From Romario to Maradona, the toe poke has provided glorious goal after glorious goal for many a South American player over the decades. Yet here in the States the toe poke is often derided as the poorest of finishing forms. Players are often punished with push ups in training scrimmages by non approving coaches. Great intentions no doubt, but still punishing what is encouraged in South America, Spain, Portugal and Italy. And why might you ask these particular places? All futsal hot beds.
All parts of the foot should be encouraged for finishing. The toe poke enables a quick release that often catches keepers unaware. The toe, along with the heel, is the most fortified part of the shoe, so the ball often rockets forward at a low trajectory. The toe poke is simply another tool in the toolbox. A carpenter carries a hammer, screw driver and measuring tape. When needed, he brings out the power drill. Is the power drill a better or worse tool than the others? No, it’s just different: to be used when needed.
The toe poke often goes unnoticed in the run of play. At a recent NorCal PDP 2006 Region 3/4 training scrimmage, four toe poke goals were scored by four different players. And what did these players have in common? Yes, an extensive futsal background. Speaking of going unnoticed, did you know the greatest goal of all time was a toe poke?
So in the gentlest of ways, poke your kid’s coach, and let him know the toe poke is here to stay.