The "Rules" of Free Shooting



Often when soccer players gather as a group before practice or just to kick around, they will spread out in front of a goal and take shots.  Known as “free shooting,” this is a very desirable activity, especially because it allows the players to experiment in a non-pressured environment.  While this activity is not structured in the sense that it is not a drill being directed by a coach, it does require certain protocols or “rules” to ensure that everyone remains safe.  The rules of free shooting are virtually taken for granted by adult players who have grown up with the game, however, they need to be taught to young players.  The major safety objective is to ensure that players do not get hit in the head with a ball that they don’t know is coming.

 The rules of free shooting include:
  •  Never shoot if someone is between you and the goal and they are facing away from you.
  •  If someone is facing you, between you and the goal, including the goalkeeper, only shoot after you receive acknowledgement.
  •  If a goalkeeper is in goal, only one person may shoot at a time and then, only after they receive acknowledgement by the goalkeeper to do so.
  •  If a net is on the goal, never shoot if someone is trying to retrieve a ball from within the net.
  • If a net is not on the goal and there is a goalkeeper in goal, never return a ball to the field from behind (through) the goal.
  • No one should ever intentionally turn their back on someone who is shooting.
  • No one should ever be directed to have their back turned toward anyone shooting.
Even though the activity is “free” shooting, the principles of proper shooting still need to be applied by the players, especially identifying and aiming for a target spot and then trying to hit it accurately.
In addition, there is a tendency on the part of players to kick only “dead” or non-moving balls.  Players should be reminded to also use moving balls in their routine, including popping up the ball for volley kicks and receiving crosses or corner kicks from teammates.  This leads to another rule:
  • If a ball is being crossed, either on the run or from a corner kick, the kicker may only take the cross after receiving acknowledgement from everyone in front of the goal.
Finally, players must be taught:
  • If all else fails and a ball is kicked that may hit someone, players must immediately shout a warning to their teammate — e.g., “(name), duck!”

 © Copyright, John C. Harves