How to Score a Goal in Football – Part One
A successful result in football games is decided on who scores the most goals. Knowing how to score a goal in football and developing a powerful shot technique become paramount in maximising your team’s chance of success.
Technique will often depend on a number of criteria:
- Distance from the goal
- Obstacles in the way eg goal keeper, defenders / wall
- Angle on approach to the goal
- Striker’s Confidence
- Striker’s preferred foot
- Desire to curve or swing the ball
Striking the ball with the inside of the foot is likely to give greater accuracy in directing the ball towards a target. Striking the ball with the laces of the boot, locking your ankle and pulling your toes back akin to a fist, will provide more power.
When the striker requires power either because they are some distance from the goal or there is a need for urgency to capitalise on an opportunity, the laces of the boot is the preferred option. However, connectivity with the ball is just part of the equation. The run up, the pull back, the position of the landing foot, the follow through, head position and the use of the body as a whole will contribute to the success or failure of the strike.
The Run Up
From a dead ball situation, a run up will assist with power. However, when the ball is in play, the player is generally already running with the ball, receiving the ball at speed or the ball can be moving all of which will generate power for the shot. As a result, power will be generated more easily.
Former Arsenal and French World Cup winner, Thierry Henry exhibit the classic qualities in powerful strikes when the ball is in play.
The Pull Back and the Landing Foot
The landing foot should land no further than 40cm adjacent or slightly in front of the line of the ball. Landing it behind the line of the ball can result in striking the ball on the upward trajectory nearer the top of the ball which will negate power and height.
In the split second prior to planting the landing foot is the pull-back. The pull-back sees the foot striking the ball raised behind the calf of the striking leg. As if it is attached to an elastic band, when the striking foot reaches the maximum stretch behind the leg, it comes back faster with the boot laces connecting with the ball.
The Position of the Head
We all remember as kids, no matter what sport we played, our folks saying keep your eye on the ball.
It’s true. However a clean strike not only requires you to keep your eye on the ball, but also to keep your head over the top of the ball. Keeping your head over the ball enhances balance whilst keeping your eye on the ball until you strike it. It also ensures you are leaning into the shot rather than away. This minimises the chance that the ball moves from the position it was last sited whilst ensuring maximum power can be achieved.
Body and Balance
As a player connects with the ball, the movement of the striking leg requires the trailing shoulder to come with it. Swinging the trailing shoulder with controlled speed rather than letting it drag through with resistance will enhance power in ball connectivity. Further using the arms to balance will enhance composure and control in the strike.
The Follow Through
When shooting for goal, the follow through will have a significant impact on the direction and speed of the ball. With the landing foot firmly planted, the connecting leg straightens and continues its trajectory past the point of contact and upwards, with the toes pointing forward.
If the intent is to swerve the ball from left to right, connectivity should be to the left of centre with the connecting foot following through across the body. If the desire is for the ball to go straight, connection should be in the middle of the ball with the follow through in the same direction the ball was struck.
If the desire is to curve the ball from right to left, a different approach is required.
Once the desired technique is established, it is important then to practice. You don’t want to be chasing the ball or balls around the park. Ideally, find yourself a wall you can kick into and have the ball returned to you. Follow the technique guidelines and note the difference in connectivity, direction and speed by slowing down each component.
Once it feels comfortable and you are directing the ball where you want it to, start increasing the speed of each component.
As noted in the video, there are variables in follow through that can still result in success. Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazil’s David Luiz often uses a short follow through. This results in the ball dipping and swerving on its path towards goal. This can be challenging for goal keepers to get a line on and often results in a parry rather than a clean take.
Shooting with the Least Favoured Foot
Even the best players don’t shoot perfectly every time. Shooting with your favoured foot will never result in 100% success for a variety of reasons. Regardless, when you have reached a level of proficiency, it is advisable you start applying this technique to the least favoured foot. It is best to start kids doing this when they are young. The more they do it, the easier it gets when they are older.
Once again find a wall to work with. Start slow and close and work your way back from the wall striking the ball with your least favoured foot.
Side Footing the Ball into the Goal
To date we have discussed striking the ball with power and the technique that is required. However there are times when side footing the ball towards goal is a better option.
Side footing the ball towards goal is a better option when a greater angle is required to avoid the goal keeper and the power is secondary.
To side side-foot the ball with accuracy, a player needs to open their shoulders when striking the ball and turn their foot (and consequently their leg) so that they are perpendicular to the ball. Once the ball has been struck the shoulders follow the direction of the ball.
This short video gives an excellent summary of technique required to strike the ball with the inside of the foot.
Side footing can also provide natural spin on the ball allowing a right footer to move it from right to left after it leaves the foot. As a result, it can be a great tool to use across the face of goal from the left hand side allowing the ball to pass the outstretched hands of the goal keeper and curl into the side or back of the net.
Opening the shoulders adequately is critical to creating the angle necessary to direct the ball in the desired direction. Without creating this angle, the ball is likely to go to the left of the desired target – usually the goal keeper.
As with practicing a shot that requires power, practicing the side foot shot against a wall with identified targets will improve a player’s technique.
Improve your Shooting Success
There are a multitude of variables that contribute to the success of a strike on goal. Whilst a player can improve their technique, there will always be risks that the technique will come undone due to poor timing, a rolling ball on a bumpy surface, a deflection or a lack of confidence.
These risks are inherent. It is when they don’t exist that improving your technique will enhance the goal scoring opportunity.
Whilst here in Part One we have discussed technique and ways to improve, Part Two will explore shooting drills that will enhance technique by undertaking sessions that simulate game situations.