From Shooting to Finishing

When I work on shooting with my teams I like to create realistic situations that transfer easily into the real game. My favorite resource for these kind of exercises is a book by Chelsea Academy Coach, Michael Beale, called Training Creative Goalscorers.

This is the best book or dvd I've seen for exercises that engage the imagination of the players and motivate them to play at game speed and focus.

Having said that, my players will tell you that their favorite shooting game is one we call 'Half-Line'. After we warm-up with some exercises that focus on the technique of shooting, we divide the team in two and put one goal at each end of an area that is the same size as two penalty areas. Since the size varies depending on the age of the players, this is a good reference point to use. A line of cones halfway between the two goals separates the teams. With younger teams, each team starts with two balls. With older teams we only use two balls to lessen the chance of someone being hit by a ball they didn't see coming.

To begin with, the rules are fairly simple: shoot from your side of the field and score in the other team's goal. Depending on the age and ability of the players, you can allow them to use their hands to save shots that are taken on their goal or you can say that they must defend the goal by clearing the ball as a field player would. The first team to score 10 goals wins.

There are a whole list of alternative rules that you can use to focus on whatever skills you'd like. Here's a list of just a few:

  • If a ball is caught, the shooter must sit out until his team scores or catches a ball shot by the other team.
  • If a ball is received cleanly (no bounce) by the defender, the shooter must sit out until his team scores or a teammate receives a ball cleanly.
  • The ball must be rolling when you hit it.
  • You can only shoot a ball that has been passed to you by another player.

As the first progression, we take one player from each team and put them on the other side of the field as a forward who is also responsible for pressuring the other team's shooters. If the forward wins the ball from the other team he can finish it. His teammates can pass to the forward for him to finish. If the forward is under pressure and unable to shoot, he can pass it back to his teammates on the other side.

Next, we allow the player who passed the ball to the forward to support his pass and move into the attacking third of the field. This run makes the game more realistic and allows for the forward to combine with another player in order to score. The second attacker is allowed to stay in the attacking half until the ball he passed in is played back to side of the field so now there is more pressure on the team to move the ball to open space to create the chance to shoot or pass to their forward.

This final progression adds an additional forward but still allows a player to support his pass to the forwards, putting three players in the attacking half.

Do you have any other progressions that could be used with this game? What shooting games or exercises do you use to transfer shooting technique into finishing skill?

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