It doesn’t matter how talented your goalkeeper is or how well organized your defense is, to win a game of soccer you need to score goals.
However, unlike a lot of sports, soccer is a game in which scoring is incredibly difficult, which is obvious when you compare the average score of a soccer game to a game of basketball for example.
That isn’t to say scoring in other sports is easy, it’s just that much more difficult in soccer, which makes it super important to ensure your attacking players have the skill to take advantage of every chance they get to put the ball in the back of the net.
Developing tactics, studying defensive setups, and working on set pieces are all an essential part of a successful attack on goal, but it doesn’t matter how you build a chance if your players panic in front of the goal or lack the composure to finish clinically.
Thankfully, there are several ways a player can improve their goal-scoring ability.
Practicing their shooting and more crucially, their approach play, positioning, control, and decision making are all ways to make an individual player much more lethal when presented with a goalscoring opportunity.
There are several drills used at all levels to develop these aspects of a player’s game and can be adapted and changed to build confidence and drastically improve your team’s attacking play.
In this piece, we’re going to look at 6 of the best finishing drills which will definitely help your players up their goal tally and test the opposition goalie as much as possible.
Two Touch, Two Goal
Two goals need to be set up opposite each other around 25 to 30 yards apart. Players are lined up beside both goals and each given a football.
The core idea is that players from one of the groups pass the ball diagonally across the play area to a player who is waiting to receive the pass in the middle.
The player in the middle receives the pass and turns on the goal behind him, taking the ball and getting a shot on goal using only two touches.
The player who passed the ball to start the drill runs into the middle and is then in a position to receive the ball from the group on the other side of the field, allowing a continuous rotation to occur.
Aim of the Drill
The aim of this drill is to put pressure on players and force them to improve their touch control, positioning, and finishing.
The beauty is that the drill is fast and rotates often, meaning players can get a lot of shots on goal and a lot of practice using limited touches, helping develop their skills in a time-efficient manner.
- Two goals and at least half a pitch are needed for this drill. The goals should ideally be regulation size and should be positioned facing each other about 30 yards apart.
- You’ll need two goalkeepers, one to play in each goal. This is an added bonus of this drill, it provides good training for keepers too. If you have more than two goalies you should rotate them out every 5 to 6 shots. If you only have 1 goalie you can leave the other goal unmanned if needed, however really this drill does work best with a keeper in both nets.
- Get your players organized into two groups and lined up beside each goal, with the waiting players standing back. The groups should be diagonally positioned from each other in order for the drill to work properly.
- Give each group several balls each, ideally a ball for each player or evenly split between the groups.
- The first player in each group starts with the ball in front of them and ready to be played. The first player in the opposite group has to stand around 20 yards in front of their group without a ball in order to start the rotation up.
- Have an idea of how many rotations you’d like to do and make a note of which players started the rotation to make sure everyone gets a fair number of chances to run the drill.
Depending on the time available, 3 to 5 rotations work well and this will typically take around 10 minutes, however, this can shrink as your players become more organized.
Running the Drill
- The first player in the line passes the ball to the waiting player who is standing without a ball 20 yards out in front of their group.
- The player who passed the ball then sprints out to a similar position on their side of the field and waits to receive the ball from the opposite group.
- The player who received the first pass must use their first touch to set the ball in a good position for a shot. They then use their second touch to take a shot at the goal, even if the first touch wasn’t very good.
- The player who passed the first ball, who is now ready and waiting in the play area receives their pass from the opposite group, again taking a touch to get the ball into positions and then getting a shot off.
- Shooters must retrieve the ball if they miss and then return to their own group.
- Passers must start their run into the ready position as soon as they pass the ball, allowing for very quick rotations.
- Continue the rotations until the predetermined number of rounds is complete, then have the groups switch to the other side of the goal and run the drill again to practice shooting from both angles.
Add Touches - If your players are new or inexperienced allow them to take 3 touches instead of 2 to build confidence.
Add Distance - Set the goals up further apart to add difficulty for experienced players.
Vary the Passes - Have the passers lob or cross the ball to the shooters to make the first touch more difficult for them.Coaching tips:
- Highlight to your players how important the first touch is in getting a chance to shoot. Help them to understand the importance of getting the ball out from the feet and giving space to turn onto goal.
- Make your players shoot as if they’re in a real game to build accuracy and consistency and offer the goalkeepers invaluable practice.
In this drill, the ball is passed into open space in front of the players who then race to be the first to the ball and to score.
Aim of the Drill
This drill is a great yet simple competitive option that will help players get accustomed to the pressure of being contested. It also develops control, dribbling, and shooting. It also helps goalies and develops the player’s ability to contest and win back the ball.
- Place two goals next to each other on the same goal line around 15 yards apart.
- Have a goalkeeper stand in each goal and have additional goalies rotate in every few rotations. If you don’t have any goalies you can run the drill without them as the key component of the drill is the competition between the attackers
- Set up two cones 30 to 40 yards back from the goals, with a gap of 5 yards between the cones.
- Have two separate groups of players line up behind the cones, and the coach standing evenly between the two groups.
- Determine how many rotations you want to do to give all players a fair chance of winning at least 1 contest. Ideally, you want this drill to run for around 20 minutes to give every player ample time to try and win a contest.
Running the Drill
- Both players at the front of their group prepare to race to the ball when the coach passes it forward.
- The coach passes the ball into space between the two cones.
- The players attack the ball as fast as possible to beat the other player to it.
- The first player to reach the ball now has to try and score and can choose either of the goals to try and do so.
- The player who was beaten to the ball now takes on the role of a defender chasing back, trying to win the ball back or prevent a goal from being scored. If they win the ball back they may try to get a shot off on goal too, with the other player now trying to stop them.
- The battle ends when a shot is taken or blocked by the defender or goalie.
- The players return to the back of the line and the coach releases a new ball for the next players to contest.
- A round is complete once every player has had a turn - and a new round can then be started, ideally by matching up new pairs of players to compete.
Use a single goal - using one goal instead of two may be easier for setting up and also makes it harder to score and easier to defend. Goalkeepers will need to be rotated more often.
Add Players - This drill can be easily adapted to add 2 v 2 or more players for larger groups.
High Drop Start - The coach throws the ball into the air instead of passing it forward, making the ball harder to control and more difficult to contest.
- Build up the competitive nature of this drill to build excitement and pressure, but also make sure to reassure weaker players and try to give them fairer pairings in order to help them improve and give them a chance to enjoy themselves
- Keep the tempo high, if the play breaks down or loses momentum count down from 5 and then call it a draw if no one can break the deadlock.
- A good first touch and concentration is key for attackers, while defenders need to persevere and have great reflexes.
In this drill, players will complete a few agility exercises and then receive a ball to try and shoot at goal.
Aim of the Drill
The idea of this exercise is that it will help players to improve their footwork and speed, as well as setting their feet to receive the ball.
- A goal is required, but you can set the drill up on the edge of the penalty area to make things simple.
- Assign a goalkeeper and have them rotate if you have more than one.
- Set two cones up outside the penalty box around 30 yards apart. These cones mark the starting position for both groups.
- Set up an agility ladder or agility hoops or hurdles (depending on your preference or their availability) at a slight angle towards the kickoff spot.
- Place a cone 5 yards away from the end of the agility course.
- Set the players up at the starting cones and ensure each player has a ball except the first player in one of the groups.
- Set a number of circuits and make sure to keep track of who started to make sure everyone gets the same number of attempts at the circuit.
Running the Drill
- The player without a ball at the front of the group begins the circuit by running the agility course and circling around the cone.
- As they come around the cone and turn back towards the goal the player at the front of the other group passes their ball to the player who just completed the agility course.
- The passer then runs the agility course on their side, while the player who received the pass takes a single touch on the ball and then attempts to score with their next touch.
- The player who first passed the ball will now be getting to the end of their agility course and will be ready to receive a pass from the opposite group.
- They then attack the goal in the same manner as the first player, creating an alternating rotation.
- Players retrieve their ball and then return to their own group.
Change up the agility drill - Add different agility tools such as poles or cones to make things easier or more difficult.
First touch shooting - Have the players shoot with their very first touch, but make sure the passers know to lay off the ball a little more accurately and gently to make shooting possible.
- Demonstrate how you want the players to navigate the agility course and encourage a high tempo.
- Highlight the importance of good service from the passers.
- Encourage the shooters to make clean strikes and test the goalkeeper by getting shots on target.
In this drill, players take 3 shots on goal each round. The first shot is taken from a distance, the second is a layoff from just outside the penalty area and the last one is a cross.
Aim of the Drill
This drill helps players get experience with many different goalscoring opportunities and can really improve their confidence.
- A full-size goal is best for this drill due to the distance some of the shots are taken from.
- Pick a goalkeeper and have them rotate every few players.
- Set up 3 cones, five yards out in front of the penalty area and separated by a large gap. Ideally, you’ll have one cone in the center and two at either side of the penalty box, but all still lined up in a row five yards out from the area.
- Split the players evenly between each cone and give out an even number of balls with a few more given to the center group.
- The first and second players in each group should have a ball and be ready to start.
Running the Drill
- The first player in the middle group dribbles towards the goal and shoots before they get too close or pass the edge of the penalty area.
- This player then turns around and prepares for a pass from the player who was behind him in the line.
- The player who was behind him passes to the player who just attempted to score.
- The player who receives the pass lays the ball off so that the second player can now run onto the ball and take a shot on goal.
- After the second player has taken their shot, the player at the front of one of the wider groups now passes their ball to the player who just took the layoff shot.
- The player receiving this pass then passes back to the wide player who will have started running down the line to get ready to make a cross.
- The wide player should receive the ball near the boundary line and then cross the ball into the box for one of the first two shooters to try and finish.
- The turn is over for these first three players after the cross is complete and an attempt is made on goal, and these players may return to any of the lines, ideally changing to a different one.
- The next turn runs the same but alternates to the side which didn’t cross previously.
- A ‘hat-trick’ is scored when each of the three shots in a turn is scored.
Add defenders - Adding neutral defenders to the box can put added pressure on attacking players and can work well with large groups.
Swap the defenders out when a turn is complete so everyone gets a go at each section. The most recent attackers become the defenders and then the defenders join the back of the queue.
Turn and Shoot
An attacker starts with their back to the goal, takes a pass, and attempts to turn the defender that’s marking them to then try and score.
Aim of the Drill
This drill aims to develop an attacker’s instincts when being closely marked or contested by defenders. It helps defenders to react better to an attacker’s movements and positioning also.
- Set up just outside the penalty area, using either one or two goals depending on available resources.
- Assign goalkeepers and have them rotate if there are more than one or two.
- Place a cone about 10 yards outside the edge of the penalty area, in a central position.
- Line the players up behind the cone and make sure they each have a ball.
- Pick two players out of the line and have them stand just outside the penalty area. One is the attacker and one is the defender, who will be positioned between the attacker and the goal.
- The first player in line prepares to pass the ball to the attacker so the drill can begin.
- Pick a number of rounds and make a note of the starting players to ensure everyone gets a turn.
Running the Drill
- The player at the front of the line passes to the attacker on the edge of the box. The attacker is allowed to move freely around this area outside the box to create space.
- The attacker receives the pass and attempts to out-turn the defender.
- The attacker either turns or attempts to beat the defender before attempting to score, while the defender continues to contest and block the shot.
- When a shot is taken or blocked the turn is over.
- The attacker retrieves the ball and returns to the back of the line, while the defender becomes the new attacker and the passer is now the defender.
- The round begins again and continues until all players are back at the start.
Change the start position - This will make things harder for attackers.
Add players to offense, defense, or both - This will again allow for increased difficulty depending on who you want to challenge.
Touch limits - Add a touch limit to give attacking players even more of a challenge after they’ve received the ball.
- Make attackers think about movement and positioning and how they can create space for themselves.
- Make defenders stay alert and focus on reacting well, continuing to contest if they’re initially beaten.