Shooting is one of the most important skills in soccer, especially if you’re a forward. If you can’t shoot accurately, your team’s going to have a hard time scoring goals and winning games. There are several ways you can significantly improve your shooting accuracy and put more of your shots on target.
1. Align Your Body Correctly
There’s more to shooting accurately than your kicking leg. Your supporting leg and the rest of your body are just as important. Your supporting leg should be in line next to the ball and pointing in the direction where you plan to shoot. This is simple enough when you’re stationary, but it becomes more difficult in the heat of a game when you’re running full speed. In these situations, make sure your supporting leg lands in front of the ball. Since the ball will be moving with you, it will roll forward and end up next to your supporting leg when you kick it.
2. Keep Your Eyes on the Ball
To get the most accuracy out of every shot, you have to look at the ball as you kick it. Resist the temptation to look up or look at the goal as you’re shooting. Instead, look at the goal as you prepare to shoot. Pick your target, and then look down at the ball. This helps you keep track of it and strike it correctly with your kicking foot.
3. Shoot Low
Where you aim the ball depends on the situation and the position of the keeper, but it’s usually better to keep your shots low. A study found that 62 percent of goals came on low shots, with the majority of those coming on low corner shots. Middle and upper shots were both considerably less accurate. These shots may look spectacular when they go in, but there is also a much greater chance that the ball will sail on you.
4. Strike the Ball with Your Instep
To score the most goals and to kick most effectively whether you’re shooting or passing, you have to master kicking the ball with your instep. This method provides the best mix of accuracy and power. While using the side of your foot may help your accuracy, the loss of power makes it unsuitable for anything but close-range shots with the keeper out of position. Striking with the front of your foot provides plenty of power, but makes it hard to control the ball. Stick to the instep and follow through to guide the ball where you want it to go.
5. Practice Often
The only way your shooting will improve is if you commit proper technique to your muscle memory. Find drills that you can do either on your own or with a partner. As you practice, the correct shooting technique will start to feel natural, and your confidence will improve. When it’s time to take a big shot in a game, you’ll be ready.
Jessica Kane is a writer for SteelLocker Sports. A leading provider of sporting goods and training programs for coaches, players, parents and institutions with a primary focus on youth sports.