Knuckleball free kick

Clean connection with the ball maximises the speed of the shot and slow spin rate causes an erratic, unstable flight.

Apart from the topspin free kick, Juninho Pernambucano brought another shot into prominence – the knuckleball. Hitting very clean strikes with almost no spin which moved unpredictably in the air enabled him to score some of the greatest long range free kicks in the history of the game.

The ability to produce a knuckleball has become one of the most desired technical skills in football, with free kick takers around the world trying to make the ball move in the air. Very few players, however, have mastered the ability to achieve this effect. Andrea Pirlo, who in the final seasons of his career was one of the most effective free kick takers in the world, is among the exceptions. Cristiano Ronaldo also developed a knuckleball swing and with it scored some spectacular free kicks throughout his career.

Although some balls are more prone to move unpredictably than others, this movement can only be caused if the player is able to execute a very clean shot with almost no spin applied to the ball. Different swings can be used to achieve this effect and, as with other types of strikes, the technique has to be tailored to each individual player.