Watching the Under 14s pass and move their way to a really pleasing victory this week I went home and decided I needed to see what I had worked on with this team when they were much younger and what had been the foundation for the way they were now playing. MORE
6 Tips For Sharp Shooters
In training we would work on the six points but when it came to the match I would let the player decide how to shoot with some reminders to the players like “try a different part of your foot to shoot” that would get the sessions we worked on in training into their minds during the match without me having to coach them.
1. Head down – eyes on the ball
Tell your players that as they approach the ball they should have a quick look up to pick out their target. Then they look back to the football as they shoot. Why? Because it is critical that your players strike the ball correctly, and they can’t do that if they’re not looking at it.
2. Plant the non-striking foot next to the ball
This is because if the non-striking foot is planted behind the ball, the resulting shot will go high (and probably wide of the target).
3. Pick the spot on the ball you want to hit
Your players need to fix their eyes on the centre line of the ball as they bring their foot back to kick it. If they do, they will naturally strike the ball in the right place, finding maximum power and accuracy. If they make contact below the middle of the ball it will rise, and if your player “tops” the ball it will just roll along the ground.
4. Keep the knee of the kicking leg over the ball
Often, children will stand too far behind the ball when they shoot. This results in their back arching as they kick the ball and that, in turn, results in a loss of power.
5. Approach the ball slightly from the side
This is perhaps the most important part of the whole technique. If your players run straight at the ball they won’t strike it with their instep; they will hit the ball with their toe. Now, in fairness, “toe-poking” can, at times, be effective. In a crowded penalty area, for example, a quick toe poke may well result in a goal. But when a player has time to choose how to kick the ball he will get more power and accuracy by using his instep. Younger children may protest that it’s easier to kick the ball with their toe, and in the case of a “toe punt” it might go further. You need to show them that they can hit the ball just as hard with their instep and their shots will be much more accurate. An easy way of doing this is to get them to shoot at a cone or pole set up 10 or 20 yards away. You should be able to demonstrate that is much easier to hit the target and knock it over using the instep.
6. A good follow-through
Finally, encourage your players to extend their kicking leg after contact with the ball. If they don’t, they’ll struggle to get sufficient power in the shot.