What is a Bicycle Kick in Soccer?

In the world of soccer, where elegance and precision meet the raw athleticism of players, few manoeuvres captivate spectators quite like the bicycle kick.

This audacious display of skill and acrobatics has become synonymous with greatness on the pitch, leaving fans in awe and opponents in dismay.

In this article, we delve into the intricacies of this iconic soccer move, exploring its origins, technique, and the indelible mark it has left on the beautiful game.

Join us as we unravel the mysteries behind the audacious bicycle kick and celebrate the players who have elevated it to legendary status.

First up, we’ll start with a quick definition of what this term is…

A bicycle kick in soccer is a striking technique where a player kicks the ball while airborne and upside down, with their body positioned in a horizontal or semi-horizontal position. To perform it, the player leaps into the air, usually with their back facing the goal, and uses one leg to strike the ball with force and precision. The player’s other leg remains extended in the air or bent at the knee, resembling the pedalling motion of a bicycle, hence the name “bicycle kick.”

what is a bicycle kick in soccer - acrobatic move used to score goals

Also known as an overhead kick or scissor kick, this daring move requires exceptional coordination, timing, and athleticism, and when executed successfully, it can result in stunning goals that captivate fans and leave a lasting impression on the game.


Are bicycle kicks permitted in the rules of the game?

Yes, bicycle kicks are permitted within the rules of soccer.

The Laws of the Game, which govern soccer, do not explicitly prohibit bicycle kicks.

Here’s the specific quote which backs this up:

“Playing in a dangerous manner is any action that, while trying to play the ball, threatens injury to someone (including the player themself) and includes preventing a nearby opponent from playing the ball for fear of injury. A scissors or bicycle kick is permissible provided that it is not dangerous to an opponent.”

Source – IFAB Law 12 on Fouls and Misconduct

Instead, the Laws of the Game focus on aspects such as fair play, dangerous play, and the use of excessive force.

A bicycle kick is a legitimate and legal technique used by players to strike or control the ball in a spectacular manner.

As long as the execution of the bicycle kick does not endanger other players or violate the rules, it is considered a valid and exciting move within the sport.

Therefore, the move will only be deemed as a foul if it results in a high kick where the referee feels the move has endangered the safety of the opposing player.


Who did the first ever bicycle kick in soccer?

The first-ever recorded bicycle kick in soccer is attributed to the Argentine player, Ramón Unzaga, also known as “Pelé Unzaga.”

Unzaga performed the bicycle kick during a match in 1914 while playing for the Chilean club, Club Deportivo Universidad de Chile.

His acrobatic and innovative move gained widespread attention and popularity, making the bicycle kick a celebrated technique in the world of soccer.

Although Unzaga is credited with popularizing the bicycle kick, it’s important to note that variations of the move have likely been attempted by players before him.


Which players have scored the best bicycle kick goals in soccer history?

Over the years, numerous players have scored spectacular bicycle kick goals that have etched their names into soccer history.

While it is subjective to determine the “best” bicycle kicks, here are a few iconic examples:


Wayne Rooney

Rooney’s bicycle kick goal for Manchester United against Manchester City in 2011 is often regarded as one of the greatest goals in Premier League history.

The sheer technique, timing, and execution displayed by Rooney left spectators in awe.

Have a look at this fantastic strike by watching the video clip below:


Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Known for his audacious skills, Ibrahimović has scored several remarkable bicycle kick goals throughout his career.

One notable example is his goal against England in 2012, where he executed an extraordinary overhead kick from an improbable distance.

Ibrahimovic took his shot from more than 30 yards out which further emphasizes the prowess of his technique as he timed it perfectly to catch out former England goalkeeper, Joe Hart.


Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo’s bicycle kick goal against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals in 2018 garnered worldwide attention.

With impeccable timing and athleticism, Ronaldo soared through the air to connect with the ball, sending it into the net with power and precision.


How do you perform a bicycle kick?

Performing a bicycle kick in soccer requires a combination of athleticism, timing, coordination, and technique.

It’s also important to note that executing it requires practice, physical fitness, and a solid understanding of the game.

Due to the complexity and potential risks involved, it’s recommended to attempt a bicycle kick in appropriate circumstances and with proper technique to ensure your own safety and avoid injury.

Now, here are the general steps to perform the move on the field:


1. Positioning

Assess the ball’s trajectory and position yourself accordingly.

It’s crucial to be in the right spot and anticipate the ball’s arrival to execute a successful bicycle kick.


2. Balance and timing

As the ball approaches, position your body and maintain balance.

Judge the timing and trajectory of the ball to determine when to execute the kick.


3. Jumping

Leap into the air with your back facing the goal.

Lift one knee towards your chest to generate momentum and prepare for the kick.


4. Kicking

As you reach the highest point of your jump, extend your leg opposite to the direction you want to strike the ball.

Simultaneously, lean back and arch your body, creating a horizontal position in the air.


5. Striking the ball

Propel your leg forward forcefully and make contact with the ball using the inside or top of your foot.

Aim for accuracy and power to direct the ball towards the target.


6. Follow-through

After striking the ball, complete your motion by landing safely.

Maintain body control and be prepared to resume your position on the field.


Concluding thoughts

In the realm of soccer, the bicycle kick stands as a testament to the extraordinary abilities of players.

This acrobatic move, with its mesmerizing display of skill, has transcended the boundaries of the sport, captivating fans and inspiring awe around the world.

From its humble origins to the iconic moments etched in history, the bicycle kick represents the pinnacle of soccer artistry.

Beyond the individual brilliance of players who have mastered this art form, the bicycle kick symbolizes the boundless possibilities within the game.

If you’re interested in learning more about the interesting facets of the sport, then learn about the name given to the act of putting the soccer ball in between a player’s legs.

Samuel Waihenya
Share on: