Bicycle kick

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For the Bengali film, see Bicycle Kick (film)
Diego Costa performing a bicycle kick.

A bicycle kick (also called 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. (Note: a bicycle kick and a scissor kick are not the same thing) [1] The move is done backwards, sideways would be a scissor kick. 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);[2] and also rarely occurs in Australian football where it is commonly categorised as a snap kick.[3]

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.[4] However, despite these claims, FIFA does not hold a registry of ownership.[5]

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".[6] 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.[7] As such, the move is one of the most praised plays in the game, especially when a goal is scored from it.[8][9][10]


Ethogram of the different phases of the execution of a bicycle kick.

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.[1] The move is also called a scissors kick due to the its motion resembling "scissors in the air."[12][13]

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."[14] Other names that describe the acrobacy include the German Fallrückzieher (falling backward kick) and Polish Przewrotka (overturn kick), which emphasize turning upside down (przewrót in simple gymnastics is a body's 360 degree turn while rolling on a floor), and the Italian name Rovesciata, which literally means "reversed".[15] 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),[12] but is also commonly known as chilena. In Norway, the move is known as brassespark (Brazilian kick).[15]

Execution of move[edit]

Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid executes a bicycle kick against Athletic Bilbao.

In association football, the move can either be a pass or a shot towards the goal.[16] 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.[1]
  • 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.[1]

Performing a bicycle kick can be quite dangerous when performed incorrectly.[17] 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.[17] However, as described by BBC Sport, this is one of the acrobatic moves that makes the game much "richer."[18]


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.[4] 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.[19] In Italy, the invention is usually credited to Carlo Parola, who allegedly invented the move on 15 January 1950.[20] 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.[21]

Notable bicycle kicks[edit]

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.[7] 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.

Notable strikers[edit]

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.

  1. David Arellano[22][23][24]
  2. Peter Crouch[25]
  3. Klaus Fischer[26][27]
  4. Leônidas[27][28]
  5. Manuel Negrete
  6. Radamel Falcao[29]
  7. Carlo Parola[30]
  8. Cléo[31]
  9. Pelé[32]
  10. Rivaldo[33]
  11. Billy Bremner[34]
  12. Hugo Sánchez[35]
  13. Eiður Guðjohnsen[36]
  14. Taylor Twellman[37]
  15. Ramón Unzaga[38]
  16. Alejandro Villanueva[39][40]
  17. Uwe Seeler[41][42]
  18. Ronaldinho[43][44]
  19. Zlatan Ibrahimović[45]
  20. Marco van Basten[46]
  21. Riccardo Zampagna[47]
  22. Marco Borriello[48]
  23. Dimitar Berbatov[49][50]
  24. Wayne Rooney[51]
  25. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar[52]
  26. Steve Cook[53]
  27. Diego Costa[54]
  28. Rafael Arlex Castillo[55]
  29. Tim Cahill[56][57]
  30. Jurgen Klinsmann
  31. Luis Suárez[58]
  32. Martín Palermo[59]

Notable defenders[edit]

The following defenders have used a defensive bicycle kick in a top tier club match or competitive international match once or more, 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.

  1. Marcelo Balboa[60]
  2. Elías Figueroa[11]
  3. César González[11]
  4. Servet Çetin[61]
  5. Bekir İrtegün[62][63]
  6. Philippe Mexès[64]
  7. Sergio Ramos

Australian rules[edit]

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:

Beach football[edit]

It is also possible to perform the move in beach football.[71]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Soccer Bicycle Kick". Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  2. ^ "World of Weird Sports". Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  3. ^ a b Matthews, Bruce (2007-09-05). "Pies star Dale Thomas's haircut leaves fans appalled | Perth Now". Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  4. ^ a b "¿Chilena o chalaca?... esa es la cuestión". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (2003-06-30). "And God created Pelé". (London). Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  7. ^ a b c Perez, Diego. "Genios: De Sudamerica salieron las maravillas del futbol." El Pais (Montevideo) Mar. 2008. Gale Group Databases. 19 January 2002. <>.
  8. ^ "En Italia se pudo ver la chilena de las chilenas -". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  9. ^ "Historia del Fútbol: La Bicicleta". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  10. ^ "San Martín selló su clasificación con una impresionante ‘chalaca’ de Alemanno | El Comercio Perú". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  11. ^ a b c "Quien invento la chilena?". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ [2][dead link]
  14. ^ "Portal de Registro y Autentificación El Mercurio". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  15. ^ a b "LOGOS - Multilingual Translation Portal". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b Soccer Made Simple: A Spectator's Guide. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  18. ^ Vickery, Tim (2005-04-18). "BBC SPORT | Football | Kerlon aiming to emulate two Rons". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  19. ^ The Ultimate Sports Handbook: How to ... - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  20. ^ "15 gennaio 1950: Parola, rovesciata leggendaria". (in Italian). Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  21. ^ "Crouch revive la magia de la chilena". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  22. ^ (Spanish)
  23. ^ Soccer in sun and shadow - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  24. ^ (Spanish)
  25. ^ "Football News | Premier League | Stoke City | Boss lauds Crouch strike". Sky Sports. 2008-10-05. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  26. ^ "Cimier Ambassadors". Archived from the original on 4 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  27. ^ a b "H2G2". Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  28. ^ "Leonidas da Silva dies at 90". Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  29. ^ "Radamel Falcao's arrival a huge deal that makes sense for Manchester United in every possible way" . The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 October 2014
  30. ^ "CARLO Parola". Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  31. ^ YouTube
  32. ^ "Signature Moves of Famous Soccer Players". Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  33. ^ "Rivaldo Bicycle Kick". 
  34. ^ "Billy Bremner overhead kick". Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  35. ^ "Chilena: el gol de los elegidos - Actualícese con La Prensa Web". Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  36. ^ "Best Scissor kick ever in football". YouTube.
  37. ^ "Taylor Twellman Bicycle Kick Goal - 11/8/2007 - Revolution". Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  38. ^ (Spanish)
  39. ^ "Hoy se cumplen cien años del natalicio de Alejando Villanueva, ídolo aliancista". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  40. ^ "Alejandro Villanueva". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  41. ^ Tor!: The Story of German Football. 
  42. ^ (Spanish),,10419~1707794,00.html
  43. ^ YouTube
  44. ^ YouTube
  45. ^ YouTube
  46. ^ Van Basten - bicycle kick on YouTube
  47. ^ YouTube
  48. ^ YouTube
  49. ^ [3]
  50. ^ [4]
  51. ^ Dailymail
  52. ^ Youtube
  53. ^ Youtube
  54. ^ "Diego Costa scores spring-loaded overhead kick against Getafe". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 19 August 2014
  55. ^ Thomas Hautmann (17 November 2014). "Wonder bicycle kick goal scored in NASL championship game". Fox Soccer. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^ "Luis Suarez bicycle-kick goal for Barcelona could be catalyst that ignites former Liverpool striker's Nou Camp career". The Independent. Retrieved 28 May 2015
  59. ^
  60. ^ "Profile: Marcelo Balboa". Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  61. ^ "Servet'ten Müthiş Rövaşata Golü videosunu izle - Spor - Mynet - Video". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  62. ^ [5]
  63. ^ [6]
  64. ^ [7]
  65. ^
  66. ^ "Broadcast Yourself". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^ "FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup: Photos". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 

External links[edit]