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How to score more goals

Not every scoring opportunity can be converted into a goal but if your players are missing chance after chance, you need to consider why they can't hit the back of the net and help them make the necessary corrections.

Failure to score from a good position comes down to one or more of these common problems:

1. Lack of technique.

2. Poor decision making.

3. Not having the "right" attitude to goalscoring.

Let's look at them in turn.

Technique

Goalscorers need to be able to put the ball into the back of the net with any part of their body.

Ronaldo, for example, scored a great goal in La Liga recently with the sole of his foot. As the ball came across the box he jumped, turned in mid air and pushed the ball into the goal with his sole.

Players like Ronaldo are not "natural" goalscorers. He scores goals like that because he has practised his shooting technique for hundreds and hundreds of hours.¬ 

Young players, like Ronaldo, also need to practise using all the parts of their foot to control, pass and shoot.

Part of every training session should be devoted to simply moving the ball with different parts of the feet.

It's easy to do. Simply warm your players up by giving them a ball each and asking them to dribble the ball with a particular part of their foot. Work your way through all six parts (insides, outsides, heels, toes, instep (laces) and soles) and do it every week.

Tell them that they must touch the ball with every step they make ("every step, touch the ball") and make it competitive by seeing who can dribble across an area and back the most times in a minute using their sole, outside, inside etc.

In all the coaching games you play, think about how you can encourage your players to use the parts of their feet (or body) that they don't like using. Perhaps give two "goals" for a goal scored with the laces? Three "goals" for a goal scored with a player's "wrong" foot? There are plenty of possibilities.

There are no shortcuts to good technique - practice makes perfect.

Decision making

"Football is a sport made up of individual moments and you have to know how to play in each of them. That means dribbling, playing short passes [or] playing long balls when necessary. The most difficult skill is knowing exactly what to do at each moment."
Vicente del Bosque, Spanish Men's National Team Coach

Children who find themselves in a possible goalscoring position have a split second to decide what to do.

Shall I shoot?

If I shoot, what part of the goal should I aim at?

Or should I pass?

If I pass, who should I pass to?

If your players take too long to decide what to do, they will lose the ball and the chance to score will disappear. Cue lots of frustration!

The ability to make the right decision in the time available only comes with experience. But you can help your players make their minds up quickly by making it clear that it doesn't matter if they shoot and miss. Always praise players who take a quick shot, no matter where it ends up, and tell them that "if you don't shoot, you'll never score".

But you also want your players to spot team mates who are in a better position to score than they are and to do that they must be able to play with their heads up.

This key skill can be developed in young players by playing games such as ball tag and in older players by playing SSGs - the 1-0 game, for example - that require players to keep possession.

And don't forget to stop the (very unhelpful) shouts of "SHOOT!" or "PASS!" from the parents side of the pitch.

What part of the goal should I aim at?

Many young players who get find the ball at their feet in close range of goal react by blasting the ball straight at the goalkeeper when a simple pass/shot into the corner of the goal using the side of the foot would be more effective.

I've encouraged my players to aim for the corners of the goal by playing Hit The Teddy.

Play a normal 4v4 SSG.
Tie a large stuffed teddy bear to one or more corners of each goal.
Award extra points for shots that Hit The Teddy.

It works and it's a lot of fun. Except, perhaps, for the teddy.

What if I can't pass forward or shoot?

When you are playing SSGs, watch out for players who get close to goal but can't shoot or find a forward pass. Ask them: "What can you do if you can't shoot or pass forwards?"

Answer: Pass back to a team mate. Keep possession. Don't give the ball away.

Attitude

Goalscorers have attitude. They really want to score and will do anything to get the ball into the back of the net.

Sometimes they might seem a bit selfish ("Tom never passes when he's in front of goal... ") but goalscorers with attitude are worth their weight in gold to any youth football team.

You can encourage this "must score" mentality by playing games that positively encourage shooting. Games like Short and Wide - a SSG played on a short, wide pitch with big goals and no goalkeepers - will soon get or players into the habit of shooting without stopping to consider their options for too long.

It's also a good idea to get your players into the habit of following up on their shots by playing a 4v4 game where goals only count if the shooter or a team mate touches the frame of the goal within three seconds of the ball going over the line.

 

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