It is one of the finest ways to finish in soccer. The ball is slipped through to the wide attacker, they take a touch to bring the ball slightly inside, open up their body and place the ball into the opposite corner. Shooting from wide angels is a key soccer skill.
The keeper has no chance. They must protect their near post, but the slight swerve the inside of the foot shot imparts bring the ball back inside the far upright. Even more spectacular is the driven shot, hit firmly with the laces, which arrows the ball into the far post. Here it is power, accuracy and taking the ball early which delivers the goal.
In both cases, by shooting across the keeper the chances of a goal are increased. It is unlikely that the keeper will catch the ball, and even if they get a hand to the shot, the ball with deflect out into the danger area which is the centre of the goal. A striker running up in support will have the easiest of finishes.
The France and Arsenal striker, Thierry Henry, was deadly at these kinds of finishes. Like Ronaldo, Mo Salah, Raheem Sterling and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, he was the kind of striker who liked to position themselves wide rather than straight through the middle. Take a look at this collection; see how many goals the striker scores from wide, hitting the ball with placement or force across the goalkeeper into the opposite corner.
Here are three drills which can be used in training to encourage players to shoot across the goal. In these drills, the white dots are defenders. The small black dot is the ball. Black arrows show the direction of movement of the ball, red arrows movement of the team in possession and white arrows movement of the defense.
Opening Up the Body
Here right-footed players should attack from the left, and vice-versa, although once players become competent at the drill coaches can look to develop confidence with the weaker foot. When this is the aim, it does not matter from which side the attacker approaches.
Player One knocks a through ball inside the defender. Player one then continues their run to be on hand to pick up any rebounds from the keeper.
The defender can start a little behind the striker, Player Two, so that there is some pressure applied, but not so much as to make perfecting the skill too difficult. Player Two runs onto the through pass and takes a touch to bring the ball slightly inside if necessary. The player strikes the ball firmly with the instep and leans very slightly away to impart power. Arms must be out for balance, and to protect against a defensive challenge.
The player aims for the far post or slightly outside of it, imparting spin onto the ball as they hit it. The shot should be outside of the keeper’s reach, but the spin will bring the ball back into the far corner. If the goalie does get a touch, Player One should be on hand to put the ball into the net. Players swap roles and repeat.
- Ensure balance with the arms
- Strike firmly with the instep
- Only take a touch if there is time as the touch will bring the ball into the defensive runner
- Allow the defensive player to start level with the attacker to add more pressure on time. However, the defender must still turn in order to catch up.
First Time Across the Goal
Here, the pass is at forty five degrees, and the striker runs on to hit it first time, or after one touch. Initially, work with the stronger foot to allow technique to develop. This means that a right footed player will strike from the right hand side of the goal and aim for the left. In this drill, the shot is struck with the laces, and the foot strikes through the ball. In order to help keep the shot down, the head is over the ball and the striking leg slightly bent at the knee. There is a full follow through.
The hips swivel as necessary so that the player’s body is in line with the direction of the shot. The player aims for the inside of the far post.
- Arms for balance, especially if the body twists to position for shooting
- Focus on body position or the shot will lack accuracy and fly high and wide
- If the player runs on to a first time shot, then the non-kicking foot is planted to give a firm base. If the player is twisting to get the shot away, that is, running away from goal in order to take the shot, this is not possible, and accuracy becomes the key focus
- Add a defender for pressure
- Make the pass from different angles
Shoot Out Chaos
This is a fun drill, especially good with younger players, but who doesn’t enjoy shooting down a target? Therefore, Adult teams can use this as well. Set up a grid 30m square and set up cones along opposite ends. The aim is to pass the ball within the grid to create shooting opportunities. However, shots can only be taken at the furthest cone from the shooter. This means that the outside cones will be knocked down first, so the drill becomes easier as it progresses. First team to knock down their cones (mannequins also work well here) wins.
- A balance between accuracy and power is needed. It is more accurate to use the inside of the foot, but power may be needed to knock down the cones which are furthest away. The player needs to make a decision.
- Use the techniques outlined above to take the shots
- Find space through movement and communication to create shooting opportunities
- Make the drill a rondo by weighting one side in terms of players – take one set of cones away if the coach chooses
If you liked this post, you’ll like our book on Soccer Shooting Drills below.