Bicycle Kick

Key Takeaways:

  • Definition and Execution: A bicycle kick is an acrobatic move where a player kicks the ball in mid-air while facing away from the goal, combining athleticism and precision.
  • Historical Significance: The bicycle kick has rich historical roots, with notable contributions from players like Pelé, Rivaldo, and Cristiano Ronaldo. This highlights its lasting impact on soccer.
  • Mastering the Move: Perfecting a bicycle kick boosts technique adds surprise to your game, and enhances confidence and versatility on the field.


Here at, we’re experts at everything involving the world’s most beautiful game. From our knowledgeable team of soccer enthusiasts to our extensive collection of gear from the top soccer brands in the world, we have exactly what athletes and coaches need to succeed on and off the pitch. 

The bicycle kick is one of the most spectacular and challenging skills a player can perform in soccer. Known for its acrobatic flair, it involves a player leaping into the air, leaning their upper body backward, and kicking with both legs, resembling a bicycle pedaling.

This maneuver allows the player to strike the ball while facing away from the goal, often catching defenders and goalkeepers by surprise. The bicycle kick is not just about athleticism; it requires precise timing, exceptional skill, and a deep understanding of the game's dynamics. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the history and notable instances of the bicycle kick, illustrating why it remains one of the most celebrated moves in the game. We'll explore strategies for mastering this iconic move, making it a valuable resource for aspiring players seeking to elevate their game and seasoned coaches aiming to refine their team's tactical options.

Definition: What Is A Bicycle Kick In Soccer?

A bicycle kick, also known as an overhead kick or scissors kick, is a high-skill maneuver in soccer that combines athleticism, grace, and precision. The move involves a player kicking the ball in mid-air while inverted, throwing their legs over their head to generate maximum power and surprise. This awe-inspiring move typically occurs when the ball comes from the air and the player has their back to the goal.

Here's the typical sequence of a bicycle kick:

  • Positioning: The player first gauges the trajectory of the incoming ball and positions themselves accordingly.
  • Jump: The player then jumps backward towards the ball.
  • Rotation: While airborne, the player throws their legs over their head, rotating their torso to bring the kicking leg in contact with the ball.
  • Strike: The player's foot makes contact with the ball, ideally at its highest possible point, to direct it towards the goal.
  • Landing: Finally, the player lands, typically on their back or side, having completed the kick.

Executing a bicycle kick requires technical skill, courage, and a bit of flair — qualities that make it one of soccer's most spectacular and celebrated moves. Not every attempt may result in a goal, but a well-performed bicycle kick remains a memorable moment in any match.

Ready to take your soccer skills to the next level? Visit today and explore our extensive collection of soccer gear. Whether you are practicing hard or competing fiercely, make every kick count. Shop now and bring your soccer dream to life!

History Of The Bicycle Kick In Soccer

The bicycle kick, or "bicicleta" as it's known in some soccer-loving countries, is more than just a show-stopping move; it's a piece of the sport's rich history. This visually stunning skill has evolved through the decades, but its origins are a matter of both folklore and debate.

One popular narrative traces the move back to South America in the early 20th century. Specifically, the bicycle kick is often credited to Ramón Unzaga, a Chilean player of Basque descent, who reportedly executed this move during a match in the Chilean port city of Talcahuano in 1914. Unzaga's innovation was first called “chilena,” linking it permanently to its Chilean roots.

However, the technique also has claims from Brazil and Peru, where local players performed similar feats almost concurrently. In Brazil, Leonidas da Silva popularized this move during the 1930s, captivating audiences with his flair and athleticism.

The legend of the bicycle kick only grew from there, gaining prominence worldwide thanks to players like Pelé, whose famous bicycle kick goal in Brazil's Maracanã Stadium is one of the most celebrated goals in soccer history. This move soon became a global sensation, symbolizing technical skill and soccer's creativity and excitement.

Benefits Of Mastering The Bicycle Kick

Mastering the bicycle kick in soccer is not just about adding flair to your game; it holds tangible benefits that can elevate your performance on the field. Let’s discuss a few compelling reasons why investing time in perfecting this spectacular move can be advantageous:

Build Incredible Technique

The bicycle kick requires acute technical skills, including timing, coordination, and spatial awareness. Regularly practicing this move enhances your overall ball control and agility, which are critical components for any soccer player striving to excel.

Surprise Element

Due to its unexpected nature, a well-executed bicycle kick can catch opposing defenders and goalkeepers off-guard. This maneuver can turn the tides of the game in seconds, making you a formidable opponent who can exploit unpredictable moments.

Surprise Element

Boosts Confidence

The confidence gained from mastering such a complex maneuver can be transformational. Players comfortable performing high-skill moves like the bicycle kick often carry an air of self-assurance that can psych out opponents and inspire teammates.

Enhances Versatility

Adding the bicycle kick to your skill set proves you can contribute to the game from any position and situation, whether scoring from a challenging angle or clearing a defensive danger zone with acrobatic flair. This versatility is highly valuable on the soccer field.

Encourages Creativity

Soccer is as much about creativity as it is about athleticism. Learning to perform a bicycle kick encourages players to think creatively on the field and explore different ways to score or defend. This creative approach can lead to discovering personal, unique playing styles.

Why The Bicycle Kick Is So Challenging To Master

The bicycle kick, with its awe-inspiring nature, has earned its reputation as a challenging skill to master for several reasons:

A Fusion of Skills: It's not just one technique; it's a complex combination of abilities. It demands:
    • Power and Jumping Ability: You need strong legs to propel yourself high enough for a clean connection with the ball.
    • Flexibility: Good hip and core flexibility allow for a wider range of motion, creating the scissor-like kick and enabling a forceful strike.
    • Core Strength and Balance: Maintaining airborne control and stability is crucial for accuracy. A strong core prevents awkward twisting and lets you focus on hitting the ball cleanly.
    • Timing: You must time your jump and swing perfectly to connect with the ball at the right moment and trajectory.
      Coordination Challenge: The bicycle kick requires high levels of coordination. You need to:
        • Coordinate Your Legs: One leg swings high for the scissor motion while the other connects with the ball. This requires precise leg movement and timing.
        • Body Awareness: You need excellent spatial awareness to accurately judge the ball's position and execute the kick.
        Risk vs. Reward: The bicycle kick is a high-risk maneuver. If not executed perfectly, it can easily be mishit or lead to a loss of balance and potential injury.
          Not for Every Situation: It's not a one-size-fits-all move. The bicycle kick is best suited for specific situations where you have space and the right trajectory for the ball.
            Mastering the Basics First: Before attempting the bicycle kick, it's crucial to master fundamental skills like jumping, kicking, and core strength exercises.

              How To Perform A Bicycle Kick: Step-By-Step Guide

              Performing a bicycle kick is one of soccer's most exhilarating and visually spectacular skills. It's a move that combines athleticism, timing, and flair. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you execute this stunning maneuver.

              Step 1: Positioning

              First and foremost, position yourself correctly. You should be facing away from the goal, with your back to the target. Keep your eyes on the ball as it approaches, gauging its trajectory and speed.

              Step 2: Timing

              Timing is crucial. You’ll need to anticipate when the ball will arrive at the ideal height for striking. This is typically when the ball is slightly behind you and at a height where you can reach it mid-air during your kick.

              Step 3: Leaping

              Begin your leap by bending your knees and preparing to push off the ground. Use your stronger foot to generate the force needed to propel your body backward. This movement requires both strength and coordination.

              Step 4: Execution

              As you go airborne, throw your legs up while throwing your head and upper body down towards the ground. This counter-movement is essential for achieving the necessary rotation. Kick your legs in a bicycling motion — the leg closer to the goal should be used to strike the ball, ideally with the laces or instep for maximum power and control.

              Step 5: Striking the Ball

              Focus on hitting the ball with the correct foot part while your body is upside down. Keep your eyes on the ball until the moment of contact to ensure accuracy and power.

              Step 6: Landing

              After executing the kick, brace yourself for landing. To avoid injury, try to land on your upper back rather than directly on your neck or spine. Tuck your chin to your chest to protect your head.

              These steps can help you master the bicycle kick, which can turn heads and elevate your game. Remember, it takes practice and patience to perfect such an advanced skill. Always warm up properly before attempting the bicycle kick to avoid injury.

              Common Mistakes When Attempting A Bicycle Kick

              Attempting a bicycle kick in soccer can be as thrilling as it is challenging. However, this eye-catching move can quickly go wrong without proper technique and timing. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when trying to execute this spectacular skill:

              Poor Timing

              Timing is critical in successfully performing a bicycle kick. Striking the ball too early or too late can lead to a miss or weak contact, reducing the kick's power and accuracy. Anticipate the ball's trajectory and execute the kick at the optimal moment.

              Incorrect Body Positioning

              Body positioning is another crucial element for a successful bicycle kick. A common mistake is not leaning back sufficiently, which can affect the angle and elevation of the shot. To optimize the ball's trajectory, your back should be almost parallel to the ground at the moment of contact.

              Failing To Secure Enough Space

              Bicycle kicks require space for the sake of performance and safety, and trying to perform a bicycle kick in a crowded area can lead to collisions and injuries. Always ensure you have ample room around you to execute the kick safely.

              Neglecting To Spot The Landing

              Landing improperly can lead to injuries, especially to the back and shoulders. Players often focus solely on the ball and neglect where they will land. It’s important to be mindful of your landing posture, keeping your back slightly rounded and using your arms to cushion the impact.

              Training Drills To Improve Your Bicycle Kick

              Mastering the bicycle kick in soccer is about having the courage to attempt it and preparing your body to execute it flawlessly. Let’s explore some essential drills that can help you improve your technique and confidence in performing a bicycle kick during a game:

              Core Strengthening Exercises

              A strong core is vital for a successful bicycle kick. Exercises like planks, Russian twists, and leg raises can help build the abdominal and lower back muscles, giving you the stability needed to perform this acrobatic move.

              Flexibility Training

              Flexibility is key to performing a bicycle kick without injuring yourself. To increase your range of motion, incorporate dynamic stretches such as leg swings and lunges into your routine. Regular yoga sessions can also enhance your flexibility, allowing for greater movement ease and fluidity.

              Jumping Drills

              Since a bicycle kick requires elevating off the ground, practicing your vertical jump can be beneficial. Try exercises like box jumps, squat jumps, and burpees to improve your explosive power, which will help you get higher off the ground during the kick.

              Ball Control Drills

              Improving your ability to control the ball with your back to the goal is crucial. Practice drills that involve juggling the ball and using your chest, shoulders, and head to manage the ball. This control is essential for setting yourself up for the kick.

              Practicing the Kick

              Start by practicing the bicycle kick motion without the ball. Lie on your back, lift your legs, and mimic the motion to get comfortable with its feel. Once confident, have a partner toss the ball to you in a controlled setting so you can practice the timing and execution of the kick.

              Iconic Bicycle Kicks In Soccer History


              Legendary Moments: Iconic Bicycle Kicks In Soccer History

              The bicycle kick, one of soccer's most thrilling maneuvers, has produced some of the sport's most memorable moments. This section revisits some unforgettable bicycle kicks that have left fans in awe and opponents in admiration.

              • Pelé — Brazil vs. Belgium, 1968: Although not captured during a major tournament, Pelé's execution of the bicycle kick in a friendly match against Belgium in 1968 is often hailed as the moment that brought this spectacular skill to the global stage. His flawless technique and athletic prowess made it a signature move that inspired generations.
              • Rivaldo — Barcelona vs. Valencia, 2001: In a decisive match determining whether Barcelona would qualify for the Champions League, Rivaldo performed a stunning bicycle kick in the dying minutes. Capped by this incredible goal, his hat-trick ensured Barcelona's participation in Europe's most prestigious club competition.
              • Wayne Rooney — Manchester United vs. Manchester City, 2011: Dubbed as one of the greatest goals in Premier League history, Rooney’s bicycle kick in the Manchester derby is unforgettable. The sheer spontaneity and execution under pressure underscored his legendary status at Manchester United.
              • Zlatan Ibrahimovic — Sweden vs. England, 2012: Zlatan Ibrahimovic's bicycle kick against England in a friendly match is often regarded as one of the best goals ever. From about 30 yards out, Zlatan executed a perfect bicycle kick over Joe Hart, leaving fans and pundits in awe. This incredible goal earned Zlatan the FIFA Puskás Award in 2013, recognizing it as the best goal of the year.
              • Cristiano Ronaldo — Real Madrid vs. Juventus, 2018: Ronaldo’s perfect bicycle kick left even the opposing fans in Turin applauding in a vital Champions League quarter-final match. It epitomized his career-long flair and spurred a moment etched in the annals of Champions League lore.

              Each of these iconic moments underscores the blend of creativity, skill, and audacity required to execute a bicycle kick successfully. These spectacular goals are not just highlights of individual careers but also celebrated feats that have contributed to the rich history of soccer. With every attempt, players continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible on the field, embodying the essence of the beautiful game.

              Read also:


              Frequently Asked Questions About Bicycle Kicks

              Why is it called a bicycle kick?

              The name “bicycle kick” describes the motion where a player kicks the soccer ball mid-air backward and over their head, simulating the circular pedaling motion of riding a bicycle. This spectacular move combines athleticism and precision, much like cycling through the air.

              Can a bicycle kick be used defensively?

              Yes, a bicycle kick can be used defensively. Although it's primarily seen as an attacking move, players might use it to clear dangerous balls from the defensive zone during corner kicks or other set-piece situations to prevent goal-scoring opportunities by the opposing team.

              How effective is a bicycle kick in scoring goals?

              While not a commonly used technique due to its difficulty, the bicycle kick can be highly effective in situations where traditional shooting methods are not viable. Its unpredictability and spectacular nature can catch goalkeepers off guard, leading to memorable goals.

              What is the best position on the field to attempt a bicycle kick?

              The best position on the field to attempt a bicycle kick is generally near the opponent's penalty area, where a cross can be met with a backward leap, allowing the player to execute the kick effectively toward the goal.

              Can a bicycle kick be performed in a soccer game without a referee's penalty?

              Yes, a bicycle kick can be performed without incurring a referee's penalty as long as it does not endanger any players around it. The move itself is legal; however, if executed recklessly, it could lead to a foul or even a card.

              Can bicycle kicks be performed on all types of soccer fields?

              Bicycle kicks can be performed on all types of soccer fields, whether it’s grass, synthetic, or turf. However, the playing surface could impact the player’s comfort and safety when landing.

              Can children safely practice bicycle kicks?

              Yes, children can safely practice bicycle kicks, but this should be done under supervision and with proper instruction. Safety gear such as padding should be used, and teaching proper technique is key to preventing injuries.

              Can a bicycle be performed in futsal?

              Yes, a bicycle kick can be performed in futsal, an indoor version of soccer. The confined space and hard surface make it challenging to master and execute safely. Players often use this dynamic move to get the ball into the back of the net from unexpected angles.

              Can a bicycle kick be used in beach soccer?

              Bicycle kicks are quite popular in beach soccer due to the soft landing provided by the sand. This setting often encourages players to attempt more acrobatic moves, including bicycle kicks, with a reduced risk of injury.

              Can a bicycle kick be executed from a stationary position?

              While traditionally performed with a moving ball, a skilled player can execute a bicycle kick from a stationary position, using their motion to generate power and direction. However, pulling this off requires significant skill and control.