Bicycle Kick vs Scissors Kick – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on October 14th, 2022

There are some football skills that every die-hard football fan respects, and when done perfectly, they can earn serious praise. 

Two such examples of these skills are the bicycle kick and the scissors kick. 

You may mix up both skills as they rarely occur, or even when they do, they look too similar to tell apart. So what are the differences between a bicycle kick and a scissors kick? Let’s find out.

The difference between a Bicycle Kick and a Scissors Kick

Bicycle kicks are overhead kicks where the player strikes the ball mid-air rearward. It is usually done by throwing the body back into the air and hitting the ball when descending, which is similar to the motion you make when riding a bicycle.

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Scissors kicks, on the other hand, are football strikes with both legs apart, hitting a waist-high football at a nearly horizontal angle. During this kick, the player lifts himself horizontally, and the striking leg snaps across the other as it hits the ball like a scissors cut. 

The main difference between both is that the bicycle kick is an airborne overhead kick, and the scissors kick is a sideways kick. 

Here’s a detailed overview of both types of kicks.

What is a Bicycle Kick?

A bicycle kick is an acrobatic method of striking a football in the air that involves both feet being off the ground at a right angle. It is an overhead kick, and it starts by throwing the body backward, flipping the feet in the air, and swinging both legs. 

The non-kicking foot rises first, and the kicking foot pushes the body off the ground. The higher the non-kicking foot, the better, as it helps give the body enough momentum for the kicking leg to connect with the ball.

Here are some examples of this kick:

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid vs Juventus (Champions League Quarterfinals 2018)

Ronaldo scored a beautiful goal against Juventus in the Champions League quarterfinal.

#2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Sweden vs England (2012)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored one of the greatest goals ever with this excellent bicycle kick against England in an international friendly.

You can find out why England has deteriorated in their football standards here.

What is a Scissors Kick?

A scissors kick is a sideways football kick where the player hits a ball at a nearly horizontal angle while the player is airborne. The player first leaps with both feet leaving the ground at roughly the same time, and arches the body into a lying frame before hitting the ball.

When hitting the ball, the player’s legs are apart like an open scissor blade, with the striking portion going over the non-striking portion, copying a scissors cut.

Here are some notable examples of scissors kicks:

#1 Andy Carroll, West Ham vs Crystal Palace (2017/18)

#2 Lionel Messi, Barcelona vs Malaga (2015/16)

#3 Kylian Mbappe, PSG vs Benfica (2022/23)

Mbappe scored this brilliant scissors kick, but unfortunately, it was disallowed!

It was ruled out for offside, and you can find out why football needs this rule here.

Which Kick Is More Difficult To Execute?

The bicycle is an enjoyable skill when done right, and it requires precise body coordination and timing. 

In the bicycle kick, the player faces backward towards the goal, and the striking leg must connect with the ball properly. It has to meet the ball at a perfect angle to generate enough power and, sometimes, spin on the ball. 

To perform the scissors kick, the player meets the ball mid-air, almost facing the goal with both feet off the ground. When performing a scissors kick, the legs of the player look a lot like the cutting motion of scissors blades. 

Both are hard skills to master, but the scissor kick is much easier to execute, as it requires less jump height and less precision. When you do a bicycle kick, you land on your back, which is riskier than landing on your sides when doing a scissors kick.

Which Type of Goal Is Scored More Often?

Despite being harder to execute, there are more popular bicycle kick goals than scissors kicks. 

Scissor kick goals are mistakenly grouped as bicycle kicks because the bicycle kick is more popular, flashier, and more commonly performed.


For our final thought on both kicks, here is a table summarising both kicks:

Bicycle KickScissors Kick
AngleThe legs of the player are usually in a right-angle shape.The legs of the player are usually at a sideway horizontal angle.
Player DirectionThe player has his back toward the goal.The player is usually facing the goal.
First off the groundThe non-kicking leg leaves the ground first, and the kicking leg provides the push to lift the bodyBoth legs leave the ground at almost the same time, with the kicking leg higher.
Space and TimeRequire more space and a few seconds to execute.Require little space and less time to execute
Ball DirectionAn overhead kick so the ball is played over the head of the player.The ball is not played over the head of the player but is met sideways by the player.
PopularityPopular with fans, so more frequently performedOften goes unnoticed when performed or even mistaken for bicycle kicks because it is less popular with fans.

A bicycle kick may be quite dangerous, and you can find out how the high boot rule applies to this kick here.

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