Striking the Ball –
Skills and Drills
Striking the ball in soccer comes more easiily to some kids than others. If you feel your shot at goal is too weak, it will harm your confidence. Similarly, it will impact on other parts of your game such as passing, goal kicks, free kicks and general play. As a result, it is important to get the technique right and this can only come with guidance and practice.
Striking the Ball Drills – Skill Introduction
Passing Point to Point
The objective in this drill is for players to work on the direction and the weight of the pass (that is not too hard or soft).
- Pair players together with one ball between two
- One group of players spread out along one line with at least 2 metres between them and the player either side
- The other group spread out along a line opposite facing their partner
- Players commence 1 metre from each other and pass the ball
- With each pass, they take a step back until they are approximately 30 metres apart (vary for the age group and / or ability)
- Continue passing this time taking a step towards each other after each pass
- Stop when they a 1 metre apart again
Skill Objective: Precision and strength of pass
Variation: Left foot only, right foot only, one touch
Striking the Ball – Skill Training
In this drill, players have to pass across a no go zone to their team mates. The no go zone is patrolled by a two defenders looking to intercept the ball with their feet, thigh, chest or head.
- Two 15 metre x 8 metre grids are set up opposite each other with a 15 metre x 5 metre separating them.
- 4 players inhabit each of the outside grids, with 2 players patrolling the no go zone grid in between
- The outside players must pass the ball across the no go zone to a team mate without the defenders intercepting the ball
- Each successful pass gets one point, each intercept or pass that goes out gets 2 points for the defending team
- Change defenders around after 4 minutes.
Skill Objective: Players use weight and precision passing to beat defenders with a ‘Killer Pass”. It is a great way to simulate game day passing into space or to team mates.
Variation: Make grids narrower, 3 second disposal rule.
Striking the Ball – Skill Game
Pass the Ball to Score
Kids get obsessed with scoring goals, it is easy to forget you can’t score if you don’t have the ball. This drill is designed for kids to identify that possession is as important, with completed passes rewarded.
- Set up a 30 metre x 20 metre grid – NO GOALS
- Players separate into 2 teams of 5
- Teams earn a point each time they complete 5 consecutive passes
- When a pass is Intercepted, count starts again
- Teams to keep score
Skill Objective: Players look to keep the ball and pass to team mates.
Variation: Reduce the number of passes for age and capability, make grid bigger smaller. Odd players become the ‘Joker’ joining the team that has the ball.
Striking the Ball – Shooting
While the drills to date have been primarily about passing, striking the ball also relates to shooting for goal. Some kids develop this skill faster than others. Technique and practice will help develop this skill.
When working on technique there are four key focus areas.
4. Follow (through)
Stationary Ball – Shooting
For precision and power, use your dominant foot. If it is the right foot, approach the ball from the left. The distance you need to kick the ball will influence the length of your run up.
Approach – with speed, commence with small steps that get longer as you approach the ball
Position – when reaching the ball, plant your left foot next to the ball, with the toes pointing the direction you want the ball to go. Your right knee bends with the right foot raised behind the knee and your right shoulder should be slightly angled away from the ball. Your head is over the top of the ball when making contact.
Contact – as your right leg straightens out, the top of your foot where the laces are on your right boot will allow for maximum power. Look at the ball when making contact.
Follow through – as your right shoulder swings through from the rear to the front, your right foot follows through passed your left leg. The trajectory of your right leg will go slightly across in front of your left leg and even as high as your chest, dependent on the speed of contact.
Running with the Ball – Shooting
The approach is much more dynamic when preparing to shoot when running with the ball. Getting your body in position to effectively strike the ball will be the precursor to making good contact and therefore power.
It is essential when shooting whilst running the ball, to move the ball out to the side of the foot you intend shooting with. Having it to close directly in front of you, will result in a shot that will go straight and with limited power. Pushing it out to the side will allow you to bring your leg around the ball with greater power and a better angle.
Your shoulders must be facing the direction you want to shoot or at least swing that direction as you shoot.
Once again your shooting foot will come up behind your right knee and strike the ball with the laces of your right boot.
Zig and Zag then Shoot
This drill is designed to simulate the stop and start nature of a game with a shot at goal at the end. It ensures players are running, with the need to position their bodies ready to shoot at goal.
- Directly in front of a goal 35 metres out, players form one line behind 4 cones facing the goal (Strikers)
- Each player has a ball
- A player stands on the corner of the 18 yard box (choose one side and change after 3 shots each)
- Another player tends the goal
- One at a time, the players with the ball zig zag in and out of cones before passing the ball to the player on the corner of the 18 yard box
- The receiving player passes the ball back into the path of the striker who shoots at goal
- The Strikers collect their ball and return to the line, the Receiver swaps after the first player has had 3 shots
- Change side after 3 goes to ensure the less dominant foot has a work out.
Skill Objective: Players running onto a ball and shooting from distance with a goal keeper.
Variations: One touch – players develop first time passes & shooting.
Shooting – Running with the Ball
3 v 1 plus Goal Keeper
In this drill, 3 attackers take on one defender and a goal Keeper.
- Set up a 30 metre x 20 metre grid
- Set up a goal in the middle of one of the shorter sides
- 1 Defender and a Goal Keeper must prevent the attackers from scoring
- Attacking players line up behind a cone 30 metres directly in front of the goals
- 3 attackers start with a ball when the coach calls ‘Go!’
- Attackers must work together to get passed the defender and get a shot of on goal
- Shots this time may involve the inside of the left or right foot as the attackers maybe closer to goal and require greater accuracy rather than power
Skill Objective: Attacking players play ball into space for players to run onto and get off a shot on goal defended by goal keeper.
Variation: Attacking player can have a maximum 2 touches only or add a second defender.
Developing Striking the Ball Proficiency
Becoming proficient at striking the ball involves getting the technical aspects right. Keeping the ball outside your dominant foot, approaching the ball with speed and ensuring shoulders and feet are correctly positioned, and following through, will all contribute to better passing and shooting. Whilst it may not feel natural to some, small modifications and practice maybe all that is required to become a proficient ball player.
For young kids, it is advisable they practice kicking the ball with a partner or against a wall and move back as they develop more power. Using the inside of the foot is likely to give greater accuracy while leg speed can contribute to power.
Kicking with the laces of the boot will deliver greater power when done correctly, however for young kids it may not provide the accuracy until they master the striking style.