Attacking Coach Coaching

Trace Toolkit: Shooting Drills to Score More Goals

Scoring goals is harder than it looks. These shooting drills will help players develop confidence in front of goal.
girl soccer player shooting and scoring

by Adam Wood

Writer, researcher and soccer coach. Devotee of The Beautiful Game. Lifelong learner and community-building advocate.

Soccer is a simple game. Forget the formations and the tactics: at the end of the day, the team who scores most wins. And in order to score, you have to be efficient and effective at scoring goals.

That starts with creating chances. But those chances mean nothing unless they end up in the back of the net, and scoring is easier said than done (and much harder than it looks on TV). Players need to practice soccer shooting drills to develop their lethal instinct.

The problem is that basic shooting drills can’t recreate the physical and mental pressure that players experience during games. It’s like shooting a free throw: making fifty straight in an empty gym doesn’t always translate to sinking a clutch one in the final minute. You need defenders on your tail, a goalkeeper rushing at you and something on the line.

You need soccer shooting drills (like these!) that will help players develop their confidence, cool-headedness and clinical goalscoring touch.

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Shooting Warmup

When designing or playing in a session focused on shooting and scoring, it’s crucial that your warmup prepares players for countless repetitions of high-impact movement. These warmups vary from team to team, but they all gradually escalate the intensity of dynamic movements. One professional example is included below.

Once this dynamic warmup is finished, it’s best not to go straight into ripping long shots. Part of warming up is mental: players need to find a bit of rhythm, and the best way to do that is through repetition.

Take ten minutes to let players open their legs up and build intensity. Lined up at one post, facing parallel to the goal, players take one touch flat across the goal-face and then strike the ball, twisting their hips to strike at a 90° angle. The purpose is simply to help players loosen their legs, open your hips and practice striking the ball itself — it doesn’t matter where the ball goes (though into the goal is preferable). After five minutes, players switch to the opposite post, to work their opposite foot.

Then you’re ready to step up the intensity with a simple shooting drill. Players separate into two lines, about 25 yards away from goal. One player dribbles towards the penalty spot and shoots. They immediately turn and check in to receive a pass, which they return one-touch for a teammate to strike. Players gather the ball and switch lines. A variation has one player shoot before turning to defend a second player 1v1.

In less than 30 minutes, this warmup helps players mentally and physically prepare themselves for a session focused on shooting and finishing chances.

Soccer Shooting Drills

This exercise goes by many names. Some are nonsensical (“Cow vs. Chicken”). Some are boring (“2v2 Transition Game”). And some are just plain good: like “Flying Changes,” which perfectly describes the game’s breakneck speed.

Flying Changes is all about scoring goals. It encourages ferocious, positive competition. It requires a willingness to take risks. It demands creativity with and without the ball. And, most importantly, it’s tons of fun.

In its simplest format (2v2 plus a goalkeeper), the field is set up with two full-size goals facing each other, about 35 yards apart. The field is 25 yards wide. Coaches divide players into two teams. Each team designates a goalkeeper. The rest split into two lines, one at each goalpost. All the balls should start with one line (per team). A quick video example below:

The team in possession plays 3v2 — their goalkeeper should be a constant, active attacking presence in this game — as they go to goal. Any time the ball goes out of bounds, one team rotates and two new attackers step on with a new ball.

That means that if one team gets scored on (or allows a shot that blazes wildly over the bar, or watches an overhit pass roll out of play in their half), two new players immediately go on the attack. Teams play to ten, but must win by two.

The magic of Flying Changes is in its unpredictability. Players relish the fast-paced goalscoring excitement and constant action, and appreciate the opportunity to showcase their speed, creativity and movement. Long shots are a valuable weapon, but not the only one: often, simple one-twos and explosive movement create the best opportunities. Best of all, every player on the team finds themselves in situations where they can score goals and be a hero.

Countless variations of Flying Changes emphasize particular behaviors. A 1v1 format encourages courageous, direct dribbling, while 3v3 requires the team to be more patient and flowing in their buildup. Alternatively, coaches can require players to sprint and touch the other team’s goalpost after every shot — this creates a significant, but brief, numerical advantage for the attacking team to exploit.

You can also play the game on a wider field, with neutral players stationed on each sideline: this allows players to attack crosses from wide areas and make darting runs into the box.

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The Scrimmage

The themes from Flying Changes (creating numerical advantages, willingness to shoot, interchanging positions and movement) transition effortlessly into a larger 5v5 playing format.

I often add neutral players, to give the attacking players an advantage and continue the session’s fun goalscoring trends. If emphasizing quick passing in tight areas, introduce a neutral central midfielder. If your team needs help attacking from wide areas, then neutral players on each sideline may help create those opportunities.

No matter the tweaks in format or variations in rules, a session built around soccer shooting drills like Flying Changes will help players cultivate confidence and creativity in front of goal.

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