The backheel is a deceptive move – easy to execute but difficult to do well. It is exactly as it sounds: the player brings his foot in front of the ball and uses his heel to flick it backwards to a teammate.
The backheel can form an integral part of a successful attack or defence. It can confuse the opposition and is useful for opening up space behind the front line of attack. It can be invaluable when faced with a knot of hostile defenders and it belongs in the repertoire of any good dribbler.
The main reason why backheels can present problems is that you can’t see backwards. Good spatial awareness is required to ensure you are not playing into the hands of the opposition. What’s more, your teammate must be ready to receive the pass or the chain will be broken and you may find yourself playing the ball straight towards your own goal.
It is important to strike the ball evenly with the back of the boot – a misjudged strike could send it flying off at a very unhelpful angle.
It’s not only in dribbling that the backheel is useful – free kicks can be turned into surprise backheels, and it is a necessary part of good ball control. When playing along the sidelines, for instance, the slightest slip can result in a throw-in for the opposition and players must use their heel to keep control.
The most spectacular backheel trick is scoring with your back to the goal.
A goal via a backheel