To be honest, I was never a fan of playing soccer barefoot until I’ve become aware of the so many benefits it has, even if this could be a little uncomfortable at the beginning …
… In this article, I address the benefits of playing soccer barefoot as well as how to do it properly so you won’t hurt yourself!
Let’s dive in.
Can you play soccer barefoot? Does it hurt the feet?
Yes, this is really common! Indeed, many of the most famous soccer players of today coming from the South American and African continent learned to play soccer barefoot!
It is even more handy (if done properly) to play barefoot then in soccer cleats. Simply said, touch of the ball is much more intense when you do not have your shoes on.
Street soccer produced some of the best players in the world, and they started playing barefoot soccer first.
Of course, to begin playing soccer like this has its difficulties…
Too much hitting of the ball and kicking it too strong can cause the pain, especially in your beloved toes. This is the main reason why the best option is to kick the ball with the inside of your foot.
That is the way to avoid pain and hit the ball harder!
At the beginning, you will definitely feel discomfort. However, with time, your feet will get used to it.
When you master the technique behind kicking the ball with your bare feet, pain will gradually disappear. Like everything else, practice makes it perfect.
Certainly, playing without shoes on is good and even recommended to strengthen muscles of foot and ankle joints.
Often, even a player’s shoes are uncomfortable for him. Playing barefoot in early ages will help players adapt and get better touch of the ball, which will be crucial for developing ball control and dribbling abilities later.
Benefits of playing soccer barefoot …
Playing barefoot soccer comes with its own advantages and benefits!
Refine touch of the ball: Indeed, those who played without shoes early on will tend to have a better touch than the others who did!
And without that element of a game, it is impossible to master other soccer skills. This is the basis of all other technique abilities.
This attribute will help you develop better sense for shot and passing power. In addition, it facilities greatly mastering dribbling technique.
Training sessions become more Fun: Playing barefoot soccer loosens up players and lifts their mood and sporting spirit. They always enjoy playing it. There is no discomfort from having tight shoes, so players can relax and have fun. It also boosts up team spirit.
Teaches faster reaction: This aspect is characterized by playing with a small number of touches, due to risk of feeling pain from too much ball kicking. This will teach to think faster, pass the ball around more often, and improve the overall ball movement.
Better acceleration: Due to more natural foot position when walking barefoot, playing soccer this way will improve players’ running abilities and their agility. This is also the reason why it is common for teams to do running shuttles without shoes at the end of their training sessions.
Strengthens feet and ankles: Muscles are more active and feet develop and grow appropriately. Inadequate running shoes or soccer cleats actually may slow down this process. In addition, stronger muscles make the feet more resistant to different playing surfaces.
Soccer ball recommendation with a barefoot
The Select Numero 10 soccer ball (Check it Here on Amazon) is considered a premium quality ball for soccer. What makes it good even for barefoot soccer is the use of neoprene foam on its surface.
This results in increased softness and optimal bounce, which is essential for proper barefoot playing.
This model is among the most used balls for soccer training. It can be used on many surfaces, except sand. For beach soccer it is better to use special beach soccer balls.
In case of beach soccer, the right choice is Senda Beach Soccer Ball (Check it Here on Amazon). This ball has 6 panel design and soft cover, which is appropriate for playing barefoot.
In addition, stitches are backed with 5mm foam for softer touch.
Where should you practice soccer barefoot?
On the South American continent, in countries like Columbia or Brazil, many children learn to play soccer barefoot on sandy beaches.
This surface is quite specific, as moving the ball around and kicking demands doing it with the ball high off the ground.
This is due to the fact that sand creates a lot of resistance and the ball practically cannot move on it. This playing style requires amazing ball control.
Learning this contributed to the tremendous skill of famous Brazilian players like Neymar and Ronaldinho. These players grow up playing barefoot soccer on the beach. Playing soccer on the beach also helps develop a large group of muscles.
One of the best surfaces to play barefoot is without doubt grass. Our foot due to the nature of the grass can much easier adapt to it. Still, in order to avoid cuts, scratches and other similar injuries, the surface must be carefully reviewed.
This is mostly the case of potential thorny plants that can grow and cause stings and wounds, that sometimes could be quite unpleasant. Important thing to keep in mind is that the grass surface needs to be flat, without any bumps on the field.
These bumps can lead to tripping and potential sprains of ankles and joints, and similar injuries.
Baseball and softball courts are great playing surfaces for barefoot soccer.
How should you kick a soccer ball barefoot?
When you kick the ball barefoot, you must pay special attention to the position of your foot. It must be straight and firm in the moment of kick.
Any irregular shot can potentially cause pain and discomfort (in some rare cases toe injury). Keep your standing foot close to the ball, and with the other foot hit the ball in the middle of it.
Make sure your foot is tight and close to the ball. For an appropriate kick, it is recommended to hit the ball with the inner part of your foot.
When wearing cleats or shoes, your toes are protected. That is not the case when playing barefoot. Your toes are exposed and you can easily hurt them. So, you should avoid using them when shooting, and focus on your inner foot.
It is essential to remember to keep your foot firm and tight. Cleats surround your feet and keep them tight and more resistant to the reaction force coming from the ball.
You do not have that type of protection when playing barefoot, and parts of your foot, including toes are much more loose.
That is the reason you must contract the muscles of your foot, which will make your foot tight and stronger during the shot.
Is it easier or harder to juggle the ball?
Juggling with your bare foot is much harder than doing it with shoes on. Main reason is much more pressure on the foot than when you have your shoes on. When you juggle barefoot, your toes are always flexing and ball weight may potentially cause the pain.
Although much harder activity to do barefoot than with shoes, long-term can be beneficial. Barefoot juggling develops better sense for the ball. When you master this activity without anything on your feet, it will be much easier for you to do it when having shoes or cleats.
Should soccer players practice barefoot?
Absolutely. Practicing soccer barefoot ensures multiple benefits for player’s development. One is being more resistant to foot injuries.
Activating large muscle groups and strengthening feet and ankles, can make you less injury prone. Various research showed that running barefoot also lowers the risk of hip injury, injury of pelvis and knees.
Barefoot soccer helps improve dribbling abilities and ball control. Players can improve their shot and pass power. Better feeling of the ball playing barefoot will create muscle memory for later, when they play soccer regularly.
Although many people mention trampling as a danger of barefoot soccer, this can happen with shoes or cleats also. It can even be more serious with cleats, than when barefoot.
Fitness, bodyweight exercises and stretching, are also examples of activities that soccer players should do barefoot. Fitness exercises and activities, such as running, are more efficient when done barefoot. It can also help them improve their stability, body balance, strength, agility, and it activates a larger muscle group.
Final Thoughts: Precautions to take …
Give time to your foot to adapt. You must gradually start practicing barefoot. Your feet must feel comfortable with the surface you will play on. Before kicking the ball barefoot, it is advised light running first. What you should do is spend between ten and twenty minutes running on the playing surface.
Practice on safe surfaces. Whether it is sand, grass or turf, primarily check it thoroughly. Surface must be without bumps, plants, and curves, in order to avoid injuries. Foot is a sensitive part of our body, and any cut or sting can lead to more severe injury.
Check your feet regularly. After each practice, you must check if you have hurt your foot somehow. Due to constant running and hitting the ball, many soccer players have a reduced feeling in their feet, so often do not notice the injuries that happened.