not the same as shooting. You need to shoot hard and accurately to become a
great finisher, but just shooting well isn’t enough.
Characteristics of great finishers
finisher’s have a lot of different qualities, most of them mental, not
physical. They include:
composure in front of goal – great finishers
are cool under pressure, and take their time. The game always seems to be
moving in slow motion for them.
making good decisions – being a finisher
means making the right decisions under pressure – which sometimes means
holding off on that shot for an extra second to make a better angle or
leave a defender in the wrong spot
placing the ball well – much more important
than hitting it hard. Shoot low, and where the goalie is going to find it
hard to handle.
anticipation – having that instinct about
where the ball is going to be. Develops over time with experience as a
acceleration – great first step. Much more
important than sheer speed over distance.
courage – both in carrying the weight of the
team’s need to score goals, and physical courage to stick your face right
in there where the boots are flying. Great finishers score most of their
goals inside the 6 yard box.
strength – sometimes a great finisher needs
the strength to hold off a big defender long enough to bundle the ball
over the line.
characteristics cannot be taught or learned. But most of them improve with
effort and experience. If you want to be a striker, the best thing to do is
to play as much as possible – every day – and try to play as a striker as
much of the time as you can.
technique is not about shooting. We’ll discuss shooting below, but finishing
is about putting the ball in the back of the net. Most of Mueller’s goals
were placed into the net from close enough in that the goalie had no chance.
So most of his
goals came from what he did before he got the ball, not from shooting.
are some core principles to remember about actually striking the ball:
Placement, not power. Busting the net is
fun, and if you are striking from the edge of the box, you need power. But
most great strikers place the ball.
not high. Upper 90 is spectacular, but
remember, you can easily kick it over the goal. If you shoot low, you
can’t get it under the net. Along the ground is most difficult to save.
post first. The near post is tempting, but a
good goalie is taught to cover the near post. Far post shots also generate
rebounds for teammates.
your time. You almost always have more time
than you think, and you can often gain even more time with a faked shot.
More time = better results.
the extra touch. You will miss more chances
taking first time shots than you will having a defender tackle you if you
take an extra touch. Watch Müller.
1Shooting zones and shooting technique
important thing about shooting is to know your personal “shooting
It’s the distance at which you can expect to score 75% of the time against a
good goalie. And that tells you how close you need to be before you can
shoot with a strong likelihood of success.
If you have a
relatively strong shot, your shooting zone might reach the edge of the
penalty area. It won’t go much further than that unless you are Steven
Gerrard or Cristiano Ronaldo.
don’t have anything like that kind of shot, so your shooting zone will
likely be inside the penalty spot.
you need to get to that point before thinking about a shot. If you shoot
outside your shooting zone, you are effectively just giving the ball back to
the other team. Know your limits.
technique is obviously an important part of finishing, though less important
than getting into the right position, not panicking, and making the right
decision on what to do. There are a number of important elements:
position. Make sure that you are leaning over
the ball, not leaning back. It is criminal to put the ball over the bar
from a good position, and it’s mostly caused by bad technique. Learn to
smack the ball along the ground first, or at most a few inches above the
Vertical strike. It is a classic error – bad
technique – to find yourself falling over as you strike the ball.
Typically, right footed strikers fall away to the left as they strike, and
lefties fall to the right. You will never be an accurate striker if you
can’t keep your balance. Practice striking the ball and holding the
finish as a pose, balanced on one foot. Do this at least a dozen times
Specific techniques for specific types of strike
on the ball:
The classic power shot, the instep strike requires that you hit the ball
with the middle of your laces. Key is to take a full swing, and follow
through aiming at the target to a balanced finish.
Inside of the foot.
Use the inside of the foot for a placed shot – which is all you’ll need
for shots close to goal. Key once again is balance, plus a specific spot
to aim at. Inside foot shots often take little backswing, and don’t
require a big follow through. Key is to make good solid contact and to
get the aim right.
Outside of the foot.
A more spectacular shot, the outside foot is used to impart extra spin
and swerve while retaining a lot of the instep power. Here the striking
foot swing through and across the ball, from outside to in. A full
follow through, with good balance, ends with the foot well inside the
original placement of the ball. Ball is struck with the outside part of
A volley is a ball received in the air and struck before it hits the
ground. Usually an instep strike, but can be any of the basic shots. Key
is to keep your head down, your eyes on the ball, and your body leaning
over the ball – it’s very easy to put a volley over the bar. Finish with
is a ball struck just after it bounces. The bounce and
timing give added power, so the main effort is not make sure you get it
on target. As with a full volley, keys are head down, eyes on ball, and
body leaning over the ball. Finish with balance.