A bicycle kick (also called scissor kick or overhead kick) is a physical move made by throwing the body up into the air, making a shearing movement with the legs to get one leg in front of the other without holding on to the ground. The move can either be done backwards or sideways. Performed in ball games, when the move is done with one leg high over the head to reach the ball (located in the original head height). The move is generally linked with association football, but bicycle kicks are also used in various other sports. It is the iconic movement in the game of sepak takraw, a popular sport played in South-east Asia (specifically Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia); and also rarely occurs in Australian football where it is commonly categorised as a snap kick.
Regarding the origin of the move, there exists a controversy among the different claims of invention from the countries of Chile, Brazil, Italy, and Peru. Attributions of invention have been given to people such as Spanish Basque-Chilean Ramón Unzaga, Brazilian Leônidas da Silva, Italian Carlo Parola, and the Afro-Peruvian people of Callao. The controversy is particularly great among the Chilean and Peruvian positions, both which consider their respective terms (chilena and chalaca) as the legitimate ways to name this move. However, despite these claims, FIFA does not hold a registry of ownership.
In association football, the difficulty of the bicycle kick is such that even Pelé, one of the sport's most renowned players, describes it as "not easy to do". Due to its difficulty, only a few players have been able to perform the move (either as a defensive or offensive play) in an official football match. As such, the move is one of the most praised plays in the game, especially when a goal is managed to be scored from it.
|“||It's a technical resource in which one must use his back, in the air, but with the head almost to the ground; the legs have to stay up and one must be at almost 90 degrees.||”|
The common English name comes from the two legs that look as if they are pedalling a bicycle, with one leg going forward to the ball and the other backward to create an opposite moment. The move is also called a scissors kick due to the its motion resembling "scissors in the air."
According to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, most languages in the world name the action by the acrobatic form it resembles. The newspaper's list, which mentions mostly European languages, shows most of these name the move "scissors kick" followed by "bicycle kick." Other names that describe the acrobacy include the German Fallrückzieher (falling backward kick) and Polish Przewrotka (overturn kick), which emphasize the sacrifice of the player falling on his back, and the Italian name Rovesciata, which literally means "reversed". Some exceptions to this naming standard include those languages in which the move is attributed to a specific national origin. In the Spanish speaking world the bicycle kick is not only called tijera (scissors), but is also commonly known as chilena. In Norway, the move is known as brassespark (Brazilian kick).
Execution of move
In association football, the move can either be a pass or a shot towards the goal. There are two major situations where the bicycle kick would be useful in a game situation:
- When a defender is desperate to remove the ball from near his side's goal, but he stands facing the goal and with his back to the direction he wants the ball to go, and the ball is bouncing around and thus difficult to control.
- If a striker has his back to the opponent's goal and is in the opponent's penalty area or nearby, and the ball is bouncing at head height.
Performing a bicycle kick can be quite dangerous when performed incorrectly. A player must take care to brace himself with his arms as he lands back on the ground. The difficulty of the move makes it unanticipated and, therefore, the player runs the potential risk of getting hurt or harming another player. However, as described by BBC Sport, this is one of the acrobatic moves that makes the game much "richer."
|“||Today, these kind of movements are seen with less frequency and when they appear the controversy over who invented them is reborn. As it tends to happen, there exist the "official" responses and then the others.||”|
There are different claims of invention in different parts of the world for this popular move. Generally, players noted as being the inventors of the kick tend to be those that have made the move during national or international tournaments in an official association football match. Nonetheless, the invention of the kick is controversial as different countries have different proposals on how and where the move was invented. For instance, in Peru, the move is attributed to the players of Callao, and it is often told that they invented the move when playing with English sailors in the late 19th century. In Chile, Basque Ramón Unzaga is credited with being the first player to create the bicycle kick in 1914 and exhibit it in an official football match. In Italy, the invention is usually credited to Carlo Parola, who allegedly invented the move on 15 January 1950. Further contributing to the controversy, some players that have performed the move attribute the invention to someone else or themselves. For example, Leônidas, a famous player from Brazil, attributed the invention of this move to another Brazilian player, Petronilho de Brito. If that were not enough, sometimes the attributions of invention get jumbled, and people begin to attribute the invention of the kick to famous players who performed, but did not claim invention of, the kick such as Hugo Sánchez from Mexico and David Arellano from Chile.
Notable bicycle kicks
Due to the move's level of difficulty, only a few players have been able to make it into what could be a special hall of fame for those who have performed, scored, or effectively defended with the use of a bicycle kick. The acrobatic skill and handling of the ball that is generally required has often made it nearly impossible for players to make the move in important situations.
The following strikers have scored more than once from a bicycle kick in a top tier club match or competitive international match, have received notability or attribution of invention in regards to the bicycle kick, and are either retired or are active football players with at least a 10 year football career in a senior team.
- David Arellano
- Peter Crouch
- Klaus Fischer
- Manuel Negrete
- Carlo Parola
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Billy Bremner
- Hugo Sánchez
- I M Vijayan
- Taylor Twellman
- Ramón Unzaga
- Alejandro Villanueva
- Uwe Seeler
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- Marco van Basten
- Riccardo Zampagna
- Marco Borriello
- Dimitar Berbatov 
- Wayne Rooney
- Charlie Hopkirk
- Thomas Barker
- Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
- Steve Cook
The following defenders have used a defensive bicycle kick in a top tier club match or competitive international match more than once, have received some kind of honor or attribution of invention in regards to the bicycle kick, and are either retired or are active football players with at least a 10 year football career in a senior team.
The bicycle kick is also rarely used in Australian rules football. The oval shaped ball makes it much more difficult to control the direction of the snap, but the area of the goals is larger. Some notable goal attempts using the kick in the Australian Football League include:
- Allen Jakovich (goal) - 1991 AFL season
- Alan Didak (goal) – 2007 AFL season
- Alan Didak (goal) - 2009 AFL season
- Brendan Fevola (goal) - 2010 AFL season
- Ahmed Saad (goal) - 2013 VFL season
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