Is the backheel a must-learn skill? Well, that depends on who you ask. But the fact is that the backheel can be a great skill to have in certain situations and is nice to have in your back pocket when you run out of other options. It’s also yet another great way that you can become a great playmaker in soccer.
Below we will take a look at the pros and the cons of the backheel. You’ll learn about times when it is an excellent skill to have and some of the downsides to attempting the skill.
Advantages of the Backheel
Easily the best reason to learn to use the backheel skill is because most of your opponents will not be expecting it. They try to run through the few options they think you do have and then you surprise them with a backheel pass or shot.
Not only will this type of deception help you in the short term, it also makes you more of a threat throughout the rest of the game. Opposing players now have to wonder what else you will surprise them with, making them give you a bit more space to operate.
Gets you out of sticky situations
Another reason why the backheel can be such a great skill to have is because you can use it when you don’t have any other passing options. You could be trapped against the sideline or in front of the opposition’s box and you can get yourself out of it with a well-timed backheel. If you know how to shield the ball, you can make the backheel work for you in these situations.
Obviously you don’t want the backheel to be your only option, but it is definitely nice to have when the situation calls for something a bit trickier. Don’t forget that you can also use the backheel to knock the ball off of an opponent and out of bounds to allow your team to reset.
Different way to score goals
Sometimes you just don’t have the time to turn around and get a shot off. By having the backheel in your arsenal of tricks, you might just be able to find a way to score goals when the opponents think they have you blocked off.
A quick backheel goal can be scored after you take possession of the ball or, more commonly, as a volleyed goal. Obviously these shots usually require perfect timing, but most players who have practiced the backheel enough will find that they will naturally attempt a backheeled goal when it’s the best option or them.
Disadvantages of the Backheel
Timing a backheel can be tough
It takes a lot of practice to master the backheel, but even those who do master it can have a tough time timing it correctly. The fact is that players spend a lot more time working on their standard passes than backheels, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when they backheel the ball a bit too early or a bit too late.
In most cases, you have very little time to execute the backheel, which means that your teammates have to anticipate it. This is yet another thing that can throw off the timing of the pass, which is why it shouldn’t be your first option.
Even if you are able to time your backheel, that doesn’t mean that it will go where you want it to go. Again, we spend a lot more time on normal, forward passes, so it is tough to consistently get the backheel to go where we want it to go.
You are only using the heel of your foot on backheels (hence the name), which means that striking the ball the correct way is a lot more difficult than with a normal, side-footed pass. You will have to practice backheeling the ball so it hits the middle of your heel and you have to work on getting the correct amount of power on it. These things take a lot of time to master.
Can lead to bad turnovers
If you do mistime your backheel or don’t get good accuracy on it, then your team could be in trouble. Since these turnovers usually come in the offensive third of the field, the opposition can have great opportunities to turn those turnovers into great counterattacks. You can avoid some of these types of turnovers by developing great chemistry with your teammates.
If you do turn the ball over after attempting a backheel, then at least two players will usually be out of position: you and the player you were passing it to. Even if you are the only two players out of position, that could be enough for the opposing team to break the other way and create mismatches against your defense.