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Intermediate Shooting (B) – Moving Balls

Intermediate Shooting (B)
(Shooting Moving Balls)

The next step in the soccer shooting progression builds on the instruction provided in Coaching American Soccer – Intermediate Shooting (A), passing through a goal, by adding significant movement to both the player and the ball. The progression now combines running, dribbling, spotting a target, and shooting using the instep drive. In the first activity, players are taught to dribble, touch the ball off to one side, and use the instep drive to shoot. In the second activity, players are taught to dribble and shoot a ball which is moving straight ahead. Like passing through the goal, all shots at this stage are still expected to be straight and along the ground.

This instruction is best performed by first reviewing the mechanics of the instep drive with the players:

1. Placement of the “plant” or non-kicking foot – level with (beside), and slightly away from the ball, with the toes pointed in the direction the ball is expected to travel
2. Kicking foot down and the ankle locked, toes curled – ankle stays locked during the entire kick
3. Good balance on the plant foot – leg is able to swing freely before, during, and after striking the ball
4. Leg backswing – heel is brought up behind the upper leg
5. See the instep contacting the ball at the midline – keeping the head down to be able to see the foot contact the ball (“keep your eye on the ball”)
6. Follow through – a full swing of the leg causes the kicking foot to end up in space out in front of the kicker

The movement of the ball is now to be added.

The key to this progression is for the shooter to be able to mentally picture where the moving ball is going to be at the moment it is to be struck and to position his plant foot accordingly.

Because it is easier to see the ball when it is off to one side, this activity is introduced first.

Shooting a Ball Set Up to One Side

Demonstration: The coach is to show the players that they will be asked to –

Dribble up to a cone or disk;

Push the ball to the “outside” (on a 45-degree angle) with the outside of the foot (the part of the foot above the little toe – See Coaching American Soccer – 19 Surfaces of the Soccer Shoe™ – Picture 4, Right Front Upper Toe);

Look up quickly to see their (imaginary) target (to be passed to behind the goal);

Anticipating that the ball is still moving, place their plant foot as close as possible to where the ball will be (In order to “slow down” the movement of the ball, coaches may have to actually get down on the turf and move the ball by hand.);

Shoot, using the instep drive; follow through; and,

Keep running to “follow-up” their shot.

Drill: Players, each with a ball, are set up ten yards in front of no more than two disks, which have been placed at the 18. They are to then perform the activity as provided in the demonstration, first by shooting with the right foot and then the left. The goal should not have a net. Players are to run to the outside of the nearest goalpost to retrieve their ball. (Players may be set up behind the goal to act as retrievers and then switched with the shooters.)

Coaches may then replace the disks with a non-moving defender and then a defender limited to one-step. A non-moving goalkeeper may then be added. Players can add a move (fake) to the non-kicking side and then set the ball to the kicking side. Players are to be reminded that their shots must be as close to the inside of the goalpost as possible, but still must go into the goal; and that accuracy, not power, is still the most important objective.

Shooting a Ball Moving Directly Ahead

The transition to the next phase of this instruction is for the players to dribble the ball straight ahead with as much pace as possible. Most of the instruction above still applies only this time the plant foot must be placed out in front of the ball to allow for the forward movement of the ball to carry it next to the plant foot.

Demonstration: The coach is to show the players that they will be asked to –

Dribble very fast on a line directly toward the goal, trying to utilize speed dribbling;

Look up quickly to see their (imaginary) target (to be passed to behind the goal);

Take one last touch with what will be the kicking foot to set the ball ahead;

Place the plant foot ahead of the rolling ball next to the spot where the ball will be kicked;

Bring the heel of the kicking leg back toward the upper leg on the backswing;

See the ball appear from under the knee of the kicking leg (In order to “slow down” the movement of the ball, coaches may have to actually get down on the turf and move the ball by hand.);

Shoot, using the instep drive, when the ball is beside the plant foot; follow through; and,

Keep running to “follow-up” their shot.

Drill: Players, each with a ball, are set up twenty yards in front of no more than two disks, which have been placed at the 18. They are to then perform the activity as provided in the demonstration, shooting as they near the disk, first with the right foot and then the left. The goal should not have a net. Players are to run to the outside of the nearest goalpost to retrieve their ball. (Players may be set up behind the goal to act as retrievers and then switched with the shooters.)

Coaches may then add a defender who runs behind the kicker as a distracter, who does not interfere with the kicker. A non-moving goalkeeper may then be added. Players are to be reminded that their shots must be as close to the inside of the goalpost as possible, but still must go into the goal; and that accuracy, not power, is still the most important objective.

This is where some players will want to start to kick the ball harder. At first, this is to be discouraged because it causes misses.

Further Progression

A further progression for this series includes shooters receiving serves (passes), on the ground from beside the goal, and meeting the ball at the 18 for a one-touch or two-touch shot.

Coaching Tips:

– Beginning players think they have to “beat” a defender (i.e., get around the defender completely) in order to shoot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Coaches need to emphasize that players only need to create enough space to one side of a defender in order to get off a shot.
– Repetition is everything in shooting. “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Players are to be encouraged to engage in shooting every chance they get, at a window-less wall, at a bangboard, or with friends at a goal.
– If shots start to rise, it is because the ball is too far out in front and the kicking foot is on the upswing. The ball must be struck earlier, with proper instep drive technique. In a futile attempt to correct rising shots, some novice coaches tend to incorrectly yell, “Keep your toe down!” This is meaningless to a player. With the ankle down and locked, the toes are “down” no matter what the position of the kicking leg. The ball must be struck when it is beside the plant foot. Similarly, some novice coaches will talk about “leaning backward,” “leaning forward,” “not leaning backward,” or “not leaning forward.” Again, this has no real meaning to a player. Correct placement of the non-kicking foot will position the body over top of the ball so that the surface of the kicking foot will be perpendicular to the ground when the ball is struck, keeping the shot low.
– The drills above may be set up closer to, or farther away from, the goal depending on the age and leg strength of the players.

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John Harves
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