Volley vs Half Volley (Football) – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on November 13th, 2022

While watching a game of football, you may have heard the commentator shout the terms volley and half volley. Or perhaps, you heard these terms in a heated football discussion with some of your friends. 

So what are these 2 strikes and how are they different from each other?

The difference between a volley and a half volley in football

A volley is a strike made by the player before the ball touches the ground after the previous player has launched it in the air. A half volley is a strike made the moment the ball touches the ground or immediately after

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You will be surprised to know that most football fans are not aware of the difference between a volley and a half volley. In fact, the same can be said for some football pundits as well. 

Both strikes have more in common than differences. Therefore, it is understandable why the two can be confused for each other.


A volley is defined as a strike made by the player before the ball has touched the ground after the previous player has launched it in the air. Meanwhile, a half volley is a strike made the moment the ball touches the ground or immediately after. 

Contrary to popular belief, volleys and half volleys are not always aimed at the goal. They can even be used to pass the ball to a teammate, make clearances on defence or to kick-start a counterattack

Some defenders may use a volley to clear the ball from play to avoid the danger of a goal. This is helpful in scenarios where taking control of the ball may risk loss of possession and cause a goal.

Do remember that the ball needs to cross the entire goal line before it can be counted as a goal!

In an attack, volleys are usually used to score a goal. Since the ball has to be in the air, volleys are generally scored off a cross, corner or clearance through a header.


Executing a volley is an arduous task for any footballer. It involves excellent foot-eye coordination and timing the shot to a T. 

To hit a volley, you must be able to calculate the eventual position of the ball. This requires superb anticipation skills and even a slight miscalculation can result in a blunder.

Then you need to position yourself for the shot and kick the ball at its centre. If you strike the bottom of the ball, it will fly upwards. 

Do make sure your toes are pointing towards the ground, ankles locked and optimise the connection with the ball. 

Executing a half volley also requires a lot of skill. 

Moreover, do keep an attentive eye on the ball and expect its landing. Then you lunge forward, and strike the ball at its centre with your toes pointing downward.

A volley is harder to execute than a half volley. You are more likely to see volleys end up in the football stands instead of the back of the net. 

Strikers can rarely strike the ball at the desired position and mostly end up kicking the ball underneath. 

You can find out how a winger differs from a striker here.


A successful volley or half volley is an eye-catching moment for any football fan and always ends up being a screamer. 

Since volleys are more difficult than half volleys, they are a rarer sight. 

Famous Volleys

Let’s look at some of the most extraordinary volleys scored by footballers.

#1 Zidane’s goal vs Bayer Leverkusen

Zidane scored an iconic volley in the UEFA Champions League final in 2002. The former Real Madrid manager launched a left-footed volley into the top corner that won Real Madrid their 9th Champions League title.

The volley was chosen as the most beautiful goal in the history of the Champions League


#2 Wayne Rooney’s goal vs Newcastle

Manchester United were losing 1-0 to Newcastle in 2005 when Wayne Rooney pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Newcastle’s Peter Ramage headed a clearance out. 

Wayne Rooney jumped at the opportunity (quite literally) to score a peach of a volley. 

#3 Robin van Persie’s goal vs Charlton

Robin van Persie has scored many insane volleys in his career. One of his most iconic volleys came in a Premier League match against Charlton in 2006.

Emmanuel Eboue sent a cross to the edge of Charlton’s penalty box. Van Persie sprinted towards it and miraculously raised his leg to an incredible height to lash a flying volley into the back of the net.

Famous half volleys

Over the years, we have witnessed some brilliant half volleys that have left us stunned. Here are a few of them.

#1 Papiss Cisse’s goal vs Chelsea

Papiss Cisse scored a stunning half volley against Chelsea in 2012 to seal a 2-0 victory for Newcastle. Cisse struck the ball from outside the penalty box that curled and looped into the top corner, catching Cech off guard. 

It is one of the most incredible goals ever scored in Premier League’s history.

#2 Paul Pogba’s goal vs Udinese

Paul Pogba scored a belter of a goal against Udinese. After controlling the ball off a failed clearance that flew out of the Udinese’s penalty box, Pogba then drilled a fiery half volley into the back of the net.

#3 Phil Jagielka’s goal vs Liverpool

Everton was trailing 1-0 in the Merseyside Derby. Jagielka helped his team to an equaliser with a 25-yard thunderbolt in injury time. The ball swerved and crashed off the bar before ending up in the back of the net. 

#4 Granit Xhaka vs Southampton

Xhaka let the ball bounce on the pitch before lashing out with this great strike against Southampton in the Premier League.

#5 Phil Foden vs Brentford

Foden scored this beautiful goal against Brentford, which Man City eventually lost.


Here is a summary of the comparison between these 2 strikes:

VolleyHalf Volley
DefinitionStrike before the ball has touched the groundStrike immediately after the ball has touched the ground
ExecutionMore difficultLess difficult
FrequencyMore frequentLess frequent

Although there are some slight differences between them, both strikes are remarkable and pleasing to the eye!

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

If you’re looking to buy the latest football merchandise from your favourite club, you can check out the latest deals at Kitbag.

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