When Shooting: Choose Placement over Power
Although the thunderous blasts from 20 yards out make for exciting highlight reels and thrilling goals, too often when a soccer player attempts the stunning shot the ball goes far high and wide of the goal. Keeping calm and focusing on aiming the ball efficiently at the target can be very difficult in the heat of a tense game, but can also be the most effective way of scoring goals. The best strikers in the world often don’t have to use their impressive leg muscles to thunder in goals because they choose placement over power, and that can be the crucial difference in leading your team to glory, or watching your team suffer a painful loss.
Think about how big a goal really is. A professional goal is 24 feet wide. That is roughly four times as long as a players’ height. If a goalie is towards one side of the goal, a well-placed shot in the opposite corner will prove nearly impossible to save. If you blast a heater straight at him or her, even if it catches the goalie fully square in the face, chances are the ball bounce away from the goal.
Shooting with placement in mind doesn’t necessarily mean a limp effort that rolls slowly to the goal where the goalie can stroll over to collect it. Often times, the movement of the ball on a well-placed shot resembles a firm rolling pass that glides right into the corner of the net while the diving goalie just misses making the save.
Yes, everyone wants to score the audacious effort that gets the crowd roaring in awe, but do realize that every goal counts as just 1. Whether the ball is fired into the upper-90, or dribbled slowly in unimpressively, it is still just 1 point. Therefore, think more about your team and winning the game than scoring the goal of the season. A smart shot is much more likely to result in a goal than a blind heave at the ball.
When approaching your opponents goal and wishing to place the ball into the net, an important thing to do is look up and find the spot you wish to aim for. Additionally, try to visualize the ball going into the net. You will be surprised how well your aim will be when you just imagine exactly where you wish your shot to go.
Coaches would do well to stress the importance of placement as well. A good drill to help promote this skill in your players is to set up cones roughly two feet from the corner posts of the goal, and tell players they must shoot between the cone and post. This will help them learn to aim for the corners of the goal, as this is the spot where shots are most likely to result in goals.
So next time you are bearing down on the goal and ready to blast in a thunderous strike, take a second to aim for that corner and carefully guide the ball into the net. You will find that scoring such classy goals is just as exciting and fun as shooting the ball as hard as you can.