Flag shooting drill

Flag shootingThis is a simple exercise for younger players that emphasises finishing on goal. It also efficiently incorporates complementary receiving skills.

The exercise moves along so fast that although there is a “line” aspect to its structure, the wait per player is very short (in some cases almost not long enough, since it’s a pretty vigorous exercise and they need to get back to the starting position in time for their next turn).

Set Up and Execution

For every six to eight players, you will need:

  • a pair of flags or poles to serve as the goal
  • a pile of extra balls
  • a coach (or knowledgeable parent) to supervise and feed the extra balls when necessary.

Set up: two poles to mark the goal. Flat cones to mark the starting positions about 5 yds from the goal to begin with. Have a pile of balls next to you.


1. Serve a rolling or bouncing ball toward the first player.

Coaching point: encourage the player to meet the ball rather than wait for it.

2. The player has N touches to receive and shoot at the goal (ideally, N=two or even one). The player’s shot will, hopefully!, continue past the flags towards the other line.

Coaching point: the player’s first touch should direct the football to the side and a bit in front of them.

3. The first player from the front of line 2 moves to receive the ball, two (or one) touches and returns a shot back through the goal, which is in turn received and shot by the next player in line 1.

Tip: Rather have them move quickly out of the way after their shot passes the flags, and move back to the end of their line in time for their next turn. Quickly!

If a shot or attempt at receiving it goes astray, or is so poorly mis-hit that it doesn’t effectively roll through the flags, the coach immediately serves another ball to the next player up to go after instead.

More coaching points

Use good striking and receiving technique, BUT equally or more important is to receive and get a shot off QUICKLY!

Emphasize that in a game, fussy extra touches to try to set up a ball perfectly = lost opportunity to get the shot off before the defence recovers (and also allows the GK more time to get ready).

Set the non-kicking foot a little past the ball so it is in the correct position beside the ball when the ball is struck.

It’s better to try for accuracy and firmness than to deliberately try to swing at the ball hard.

Progression – give every player a ball. Add a goalkeeper who returns ball to shooter if the shot is on target. If the shot is not on target, the shooter retrieves it and runs back to her line.