Scorpion kick

What Is A Scorpion Kick In Soccer?

There are few more exciting moments for soccer fans than when a player attempts the truly unexpected. Whether it be a technique used to beat an opponent or a trick designed to entertain crowds, the world’s best players are capable of producing such wonderful moments that live long in the memory.

However, some skills are deemed more impressive than others in terms of their innovation and wow factor, like the illusive and rarely witnessed Scorpion Kick.

“The manoeuvre is remarkable,” says Sports historian Andreas Campomar, “demonstrating the game can provide moments of glory that have little to do with just victory or defeat.”

But what exactly is a Scorpion Kick In Soccer? 

What Is A Scorpion Kick?

A Scorpion Kick is both an unusual and relatively advanced technique used in soccer. 

In order to perform one successfully, a player must throw themselves to the floor and thrust the body forward. They should then place two hands on the ground and sharply flick both heels up behind their head to make contact with the ball.

Initially the move gained fame and notoriety through its use by Goalkeepers with some of the earliest and most famous ones attempted by those between the sticks. It is also sometimes known as a reverse bicycle kick or back hammer kick.

In recent years the technique has evolved and it is now widely accepted that the use of only one foot rather than requiring both feet to strike the ball is also valid.

Why Is It Called A Scorpion Kick In Soccer?

The main inspiration behind the name ‘Scorpion Kick’ is the player’s body shape as the skill is performed. 

A soccer player’s movement clearly resembles a scorpion’s tail, especially when attempting the two footed technique as originally intended. 

All versions of the method have also become commonly known as the “scorpion kick” because of the way a player’s leg or legs extend dramatically behind their head, much like a scorpion which is ready to strike.

How Do You Do A Scorpion Kick In Soccer?

There are numerous stages a player must go through when preparing to attempt a scorpion kick in soccer and all must be carefully considered but within an incredibly short amount of time.

The first vital aspect a player must contend with is the flight of the ball. They should track its path through the air in order to accurately predict where it will drop. This is often difficult to calculate as the ball is descending behind the player’s head.

Timing is also crucial. When the ball does finally fall into the correct position, a player should then wait until the optimum moment to make an accurate and precise connection with their heel.

Soccer players also require superb agility to successfully arch their back, raise either one or both legs high into the air before directing the ball towards goal and more than likely without actually seeing the moment of contact.

Is A Scorpion Kick In Soccer Hard?

A scorpion kick in soccer is one of the most advanced skills to successfully complete. It requires multiple skills to work in perfect harmony including balance, flexibility and coordination to name but a few.

A player must possess fantastic body control, along with the confidence and capability to achieve the required accuracy, whilst almost blindly making a clean contact with the ball – all in the blink of an eye.

What also makes the move hard is the incredible rarity with which a player is able to attempt one. The opportunity to complete a Scorpion Kick during a game situation is very low and so practising the feat under high-pressure is difficult to replicate or perfect.

Who Invented The Scorpion Kick In Soccer?

Scorpion Kick
Columbian goalkeeper Rene Higuita Zapata defends Jamie Redknapp shot with a Scorpion kick in 1995.

There is no one definitive creator of the scorpion kick in soccer. In fact, similar acrobatic moves or techniques have likely been showcased by players from all around the world and across numerous centuries.

Whilst it’s difficult therefore to precisely name the first person to perform the scorpion kick in the sport, there are still a number of examples on record of players attempting one, in front of large crowds and television audiences. 

The phrase “scorpion kick” was largely popularised during the 1990s with extraverts and showboaters such as Paraguay stopper José Luis Chilavert regularly using the technique.

Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita is widely credited with ‘inventing’ the skill. This is perhaps because he was involved in the highest profile display captured on film, his audacious use of the skill seen during a friendly match at Wembley against England in 1995. 

Are There Different Types Of Scorpion Kick In Soccer?

Along with the regular Scorpion Kick, there are also several other adaptations of the technique that have finally made their way into soccer in recent years. 

For example, the ‘standing’ scorpion kick, which requires the use of a back heel from more of an upright position. The spinning version is similar, but as the name suggests, involves rotating the body to make contact with the ball – neither method requiring the hands to be placed down onto the pitch. Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović is famous for utilising both moves.

Some of the most innovative twists on the existing technique include the ‘Flying Scorpion Kick,’ yet rather than flicking the ball from behind, the player instead jumps forward and connects whilst in mid-air. Erling Haaland is particularly great at this style of kick and uses it regularly as part of his dynamic goal scoring.

Another variation is the ‘Double Scorpion Kick,’ where a player performs two consecutive scorpion kicks in quick succession. The ‘Rainbow Scorpion Kick’ involves striking the ball with the outside of the foot in a sweeping motion which sends it on an arched “rainbow” shaped path through the air.

Who Scored A Famous Scorpion Kick In Soccer?

Scorpion Kick
Olivier Giroud scores an incredible ‘Scorpion kick’ in 2017 against Palace at the Emirates.

Before René Huiguita’s aforementioned infamous effort, very few traditional Scorpion Kicks were attempted during a televised game and in fact even today, the original double footed move is rarely seen.

However, there are numerous examples of one footed version being used and many were performed during high profile matches. In 2017, Olivier Giroud scored a sensational effort against Crystal Palace, with a sharp flick of his heel he looped the ball from behind his head, up and over the keeper. His shot struck the crossbar and bounced down into the net.

German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn also made a famous ‘Scorpion Kick inspired’ save during a Euro 2000 quarter-final match against the Netherlands. The legendary stopper launched himself backwards and with a flick of his heel managed to deflect the ball away from goal.

During his time at Old Trafford, Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s career became littered with inconsistency. Yet his Scorpion Kick vs Sunderland remains one of the finest moments in recent Premier League history. Connecting with a whipped cross, Mkhitaryan was both instinctive and agile, swiping the ball into the net at speed.

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