It’s well documented that England are no longer producing top goal scorers, especially those who can impact the Premier League, instead leaving the South American goal scoring contingent to come into the light and become renowned as some of the best goal scorers in the world. Some argue, backed by Arsène Wenger, that it’s due to the protection in football you gain whilst growing up in England. No longer can a striker and centre back bully each other for the ball in youth matches without giving away a free kick. Growing up you no longer are allowed playing against those 5 years older than you and twice your size who you have to attempt to battle against. You play on pitches which fit FA regulations, aren’t allowed to play on streets or put a ball down and have a kick around where you have a spare 5 minutes. You don’t learn to battle for the ball and you don’t learn to be prepared for the unexpected which could be bought on from the pitch you’re playing on, or who you’re playing with. While this is positive for grassroots football and the safety of the players, it’s different than how footballers are growing up in other parts of the world.
However, growing up playing and coaching football has shown me something. The child that’s got the hard kick goes upfront, simple. The child who can generate the most power on the ball, correct technique or not, is the striker, making the coach lazy. The coach doesn’t teach this striker to shoot properly because, why should they? They can already kick the ball pretty hard, leaving a young inexperienced 5 foot goalie in an 11 a side goal with not much they can do. The coaches don’t teach the rest of the players how to shoot either, because they don’t need to. Just tell them to pass the ball to the striker with the hard shot who has a better chance of scoring than their significantly weaker shot. Or vaguely explain that to shoot you’ve got to kick the ball with your laces and generate as much power as possible, leaving a predicament in the future of these players. The likelihood is that the striker is not going to make it overly far in football, relying on their hard shot and not learning how to place the ball in a corner. They are used to being the one who scores, which can lead to them being more selfish with the ball, shooting instead of passing and being less technically able, purely because they’ve never needed to be. The other players, the players trusted with getting the ball to the striker with the powerful shot may make it further in football, through becoming more technically gifted after games of practising to create opportunities for this striker, or to just keep the game running smoothly. Sir Alex Ferguson once said that he only uses a midfielder if he thinks they’ll be able to contribute to 10 goals a season. These technical players are likely to be given chances upfront, or played in midfield, but still they’ve never learnt how to shoot, making them less likely to progress in football.
Shooting is something that is perceived as something that you can or can’t do. Children and players assuming that they’re just not goal scorers not knowing the hours of grind and practise needed in order to actually become a fearsome goal scorer. ‘Natural born goal scorer’ is a phrase repeatedly mentioned in football, directed towards a player who allegedly ‘scores goals for fun’. But how do you actually become one of these formidable goal scorers? You don’t become a natural goal scorer overnight; it takes hours of practise, hundreds of shots on goal. To score at the highest level you cannot take the safe shot, you need to be confident to take the risk and aim for the smallest of margins. Football is a game of inches; half an inch right; you miss, half an inch left; you score. To become a goal scorer you have to be prepared to risk these inches, prepared to miss until you get it right, prepared to make the shot in the last minute of the game, prepared to miss, but have the confidence in yourself not to.
Following these coaching points should give a better indication of how to shoot and score goals.
When practising shooting you want to aim for the corners of the goal. There are different types of shot you can practise, including shooting with your laces, your instep, outside of the foot and a chipped shot. A simple drill to begin can be set up using for cones or markers, a goal and as many balls as you can get. Set 2 of the cones about a yard in from each goalpost, highlighting where to aim to hit the corners of the goal. The other two cones should be set where you want to take your shots from. Set these two cones at a 45 degree angle from you, to replicate the angle at which you should shoot the ball. Then simply get a ball, knock it alongside the two cones, following the angle the cones have created for you, and shoot at the corners of the goal. Aim to have 20 shots on each foot for each type of shot. Critique yourself and aim to get every shot into a corner, move onto more progressive or challenging shooting drills when you feel ready.