Young soccer players love to shoot. Actually, all soccer players love to shoot. There’s an almost ethereal pleasure in getting the attempt at goal right. A sense of weightlessness of the ball, an artistic pleasure in seeing it arrow towards the net, or perhaps bend into the top corner.
Shooting requires strong technique, quickness of thought (it is rare to get much time on the ball when preparing to shoot), rapid assessment of a situation (is a pass a better option?) and the mental strength to know that more often than not a shot will not result in a goal. If professionals at the World Cup can shoot and miss, maybe overlooking a better option, then our Under Twelves are definitely going to do that far more often than they will succeed in scoring. We have a responsibility as coaches to encourage shooting, to ensure the team recognise that if we do not shoot, we will not score, and help build our players’ mental strength by avoiding criticism – from any quarter (including spectators!) when a shot flies wide.
u12 Soccer Shooting Drill 1 – Pacy Shooting Game
This is a simple but effective drill to use. One which includes a little pressure, but also creates plenty of opportunity to score.
- One goal, two cones, plenty of balls.
- Goalkeeper, eight to twelve players split into two even groups.
- Coach or feeder.
- Place one cone on the penalty spot, the other in line with the penalty spot but ten metres from the edge of the box.
- Split the player into two groups half way between the cones and five metres to the side of the line between them.
- One group is attack, the other defense.
- On the whistle, one player from each group sets off. The defender goes around the penalty spot cone, the attacker around the other cone.
- The feeder/coach passes into the run of the attacker.
- The defender closes down as much as possible.
- The attacker shoots.
- If their shot goes wide, the attacker retrieves the ball.
- After their turn, the attacker joins the defense and the defender joins the attacker.
- The next pair go.
- Encourage a good first touch which shifts the ball to change the angle of the shot.
- Encourage good technique:
- Arms for balance,
- Head over ball,
- Non-kicking foot planted to side, approx. six inches from ball,
- Strike with laces (power)/instep (curve and accuracy),
- Smooth follow through.
Encourage different types of shot, e.g. curler with instep, chip, first time etc.
u12 Soccer Shooting Drill 2 – Using a Pivot to Perfect Technique
This drill sees the ball coming back towards a striker, requiring excellent technique to control the shot, or a pass sideways requiring the striker to change their body position ready for their shot. However, the same shooting technique as described above is still used.
- Goal, ‘keeper, cone, pivot, lots of balls.
- The pivot stands on edge of the penalty area’s D.
- The cone is 10m towards the half way line.
- Shooters stand with a ball a further 5m back.
- The shooter dribbles to the cone, passes firmly to the pivot and sprints on.
- Pivot lays off a pass to one side (begin with shooter’s stronger side, then develop to use either side and back towards the onrushing attacker).
- Shooter runs onto ball, and shoots either first time, of after one touch.
- If possible, have two coaches here, one to run the drill (or use a player if no spare coach is available) the other to give brief individual feedback to shooter on technique.
- Start with their strength to encourage confidence – allow players a touch on their stronger side.
- Technique is more important than scoring.
- Encourage shooting to the far post, across the goal.
- Move on to first time shooting.
- Encourage shooting with weaker foot.
- Introduce a defender to add pressure.
- Defender begins behind pivot.
- Moves to close down shot once attacker has touched the pass from the pivot.
- After one go at defense, the defender joins the shooter, and is replaced by the striker who has just taken a shot.
A key point with both of these drills is for the coach to maintain pace. Each drill involves just a small number of players being active at any moment, and although by Under Twelve age players will be able to concentrate for longer periods, keeping ‘waiting time’ to an absolute minimum practicable helps discipline and focus for our players.
u12 Soccer Shooting Drill Key Map
(Diagrams created by Abiprod, using ‘Soccer Drive’)