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Introduction to Shooting and Goal Scoring

INTRODUCTION TO SHOOTING AND GOAL SCORING

The objective of shooting in soccer is to legally propel the ball into the opponents’ goal, completely “…over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar…” (Law 10). This may seem very straight-forward, but, in reality, the shooter usually has to overcome the nature of the goal itself and the opposing goalkeeper in order to score.

As young players are first learning the game, they are usually taught to dribble and then to pass to a teammate. These are mobile, human activities. In learning to shoot to score, however, they are expected to direct the ball through a fixed, invisible plane and to make sure that it goes away from the opposing goalkeeper. Subconsciously, this can be a very difficult transition for the young player to make, as evidenced by the countless times in youth games that shooters can be seen kicking the ball directly to the goalie. Accordingly, coaches should strive to effectively utilize and build upon the more basic skills of dribbling, passing, and instep drive kicking (which are assumed to have already been properly taught) in order to introduce the more advanced skills of shooting and goal scoring.

Coaches should first introduce their players to a real goal by identifying the goal line, the goalposts, and the crossbar. They should then clearly demonstrate that the ball must be completely over the goal line, whether on the ground or in the air, to score. Similarly, coaches should demonstrate that a ball stopped on, or rolling along the goal line, is not a goal and needs to be kicked again (as long as it has not become in possession of the goalkeeper). At this time, coaches might also mention that the net exists to help the referee determine if a goal has been scored and that, in and of itself, the net does not have any significance as far as the rule is concerned regarding how a goal is scored.

Next, coaches should introduce the concept that all shots need to be directed “on-goal.”* By definition, shots which are directed “on-goal” will score a goal unless someone, such as the opposing goalkeeper or other defender, intervenes to save, block or deflect the ball away. Shots which are not directed on-goal may look pretty, but have next to no chance of scoring. A hard, screaming shot that is high or wide of the goal mouth is little more than a “nice try.”

It is now time to introduce the fact that accuracy is the key to scoring. When first learning to shoot, youth and adults alike have a tendency to want to power the ball into the goal, causing an unfortunate and disproportionate number of misses, a lot of which become self-reinforcing. Accordingly, coaches of beginners should demonstrate how “easy” it is to score, using very little effort to get the ball over the goal line or into the goal mouth. The tendency to want to blast the ball into the goal should be restrained. Trying to apply power too soon is mostly done at the expense of accuracy.

The way to achieve accuracy is to establish and hit a target with the ball. This may be done by using the introductory shooting and goal scoring learning progression. In this learning progression, players are taken from the point where they just dribble through an empty goal to the point where they are expected to hit a real target with the ball. While doing so, beginning players should kick the ball in such a way that their shot will move along the ground. There are two major reasons for this. First, ultimately it is difficult for the goalkeeper to get down to the ground to stop shots. Second, when the third spacial dimension of kicking the ball into the air is added too soon, most players lose accuracy. It is also important to start this learning progression very close to the goal and without a goalkeeper. In this way, each player receives the positive reinforcement of scoring virtually every time.

Using a real goal (see Important Safety Note below), the introductory shooting and goal scoring learning progression follows. This entire progRession is performed with no nets on the goal.

1. Each player has a ball:
– Dribble through the goal
– Dribble close to the goal line, use short inside of the foot pass to score
– Dribble close to the goal line, use short instep drive pass to score

2. Players to get the ball as close to the inside of a goalpost as possible without missing; alternate sides and feet on each turn:
– Dribble through the goal
– Dribble close to the goal line, use short inside of the foot pass to score
– Dribble to the goal line, use short instep drive pass to score

3. Add two cones, approximately six feet apart, in the middle of the goal, to represent the presence of a goalie – more cones may be placed in between; players to dribble or shoot between the nearest cone and the goalpost; alternate sides and feet on each turn:
– Dribble through the goal
– Dribble close to the goal line, use short inside of the foot pass to score
– Dribble close to the goal line, use short instep drive pass to score

(Option: With continued success, coaches may then increase the width between the cones representing the goalie, thereby decreasing the space between the cones and the goalposts, and run the sequence again.)

4. Add two groupings of three or four cones approximately ten yards behind the goal just inside the dimensions of the goalposts; these become the first targets; alternate sides and feet on each turn:
– Dribble close to the goal line, use short inside of the foot pass to hit the group of target cones
– Dribble close to the goal-line, use short instep drive pass to hit the group of target cones.

5. Add two cones in the field of play, approximately five yards in front of each goalpost; passes must now be made when reaching these cones; alternate sides and feet on each turn:
– Dribble close to the field cone, use short inside of the foot pass to hit the group of target cones
– Dribble close to the field cone, use short instep drive pass to hit the group of target cones

(Option: With continued success, coaches may then increase the distance of the field cones away from the goal.)

6. Add a player as a “goalie;” players pass with inside of foot and instep to both sides to hit the target cones as above; the goalie is to be specifically told that he is not to try to stop or “save” any balls unless they are kicked directly to him; the “goalie” at this point is a “distracter”:
– Goalie stationary in the middle of the goal on the goal-line
– Goalie moves along the goal-line, left-and-right, only to the cones
– Goalie may move one or two steps in front of the goal-line, but still only within the width of the cones

(“Goalies” need to be changed frequently.)

After shooting (or passing through the goal), players are to follow their shots, collect their ball, and run around to the outside to perform the skills again. It is here that coaches need to inform and demonstrate to their players that, when a ball is properly “on goal,” there is a chance that it could rebound or deflect off the goalkeeper, another defender, the goalposts, or the crossbar, and back into the field of play. These are live balls that are available to be shot again. Even rebounds off the referee remain live.

Notes: Players must be reminded that the object is always to score and not to kick the ball so hard that they start missing. Constant reinforcement of “hitting the target” (cones) is essential, once the target cones have been added. If players are observed to start missing due to goal-line cones being too close to the posts, or the field cones being too far out into the field, the placement of these cones must be promptly adjusted. The “goalies” quickly understand their role as distracters – they can be allowed to wave their hands and fake like they are going to get the ball, but they must not be allowed to call out or yell.

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: Goals must be checked to ensure that they are properly secure and anchored. No one is to be allowed to climb on or play on the goals or their supports. Children have been seriously injured or killed by falling goals. If goals are found to be improperly anchored, or sitting on unlevel ground, they are not to be used. If this is the case, the appropriate authority should be promptly notified.
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*Also referred to by American players as “on-frame” or within the rectangle formed by the goal-line, the goal-posts, and the crossbar.

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“Only after I saw him score five goals in three games, all by banking the ball into the net off the inside of the goalpost, did I realize that he was hitting the post on purpose.”
— Spectator observing Craig Jeffries, NCAA All America, Summer 1976

 

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