Bubba Watson, Copa America and Shaping Shots

Having been both a NCAA D1 soccer player as well as a high school soccer coach, I had the usual repertoire of shots, passes and goal kicks to my disposal.  On a goal kick, it was not uncommon for me to use a driving kick, lofted kick or bend one up the side lines either directly on some ones feet, head or into a space for the player to run onto.

All of the varieties of goal kicks not only required using different parts of your foot but the how the foot released  through the ball could vary greatly.

What on earth does this have to do with Bubba?


When observing a young golfer named Brandon shape shots, I realized his method is handsy just like Bubba.  It then hit me. Bubba Watson shapes shots just like a soccer player shapes shots with their foot.



Bubba learned to manipulate the club face and release in such a way that allowed him to bend it like Beckham. In fact, Bubba is using a tool that is more predicable than the leg foot unit.  Unlike the face of a golf club head, a foot does not have any uniformly flat surfaces, the closest thing that is flattish being the laces. However, a soccer player  who is not under pressure, can deliver a pass, cross, drive and shot with tremendous accuracy.

The plane of a soccer players leg foot unit swing can also vary depending on the task. A driving shot can have a more upright plane vs a cross that has a flatter plane. Also, like a golf swing the equivalent to swinging handle first is that the soccer player gets their lag by going knee fist.  The knee has to lead in order for the foot to have access to the target.

What Bubba and a soccer player also have in common is that the task or picture drive how the brain generates an arm club unit or leg foot unit release to the picture. On a goal kick, just like Bubba, a soccer player sees a movie of the task before executing.

I have run into many Bubba nay sayers that have said  “I would never teach a player to  shape shots like that”,  “Bubba is way too handsy, that is why he is so inconsistent.”… etc

It is truly sad how venomous this crowd can be.  They often throw labels a Bubba that prevents them from asking a very simply question.  What can we learn from how Bubba learns? I could go on forever…

The reality is that there is no competent soccer coach would ever say to a player, “you are being too footsie with that leg foot swing.”  Soccer players learn through experience how to shape the ball in a variety of ways just like Bubba did when he was young playing on those tight, tree lined florida courses.

So the next time you see a soccer player tee it up for a goal kick, corner kick or free kick, think Bubba!