New Happy Face Patch on SoccerHelp

Scoring more Soccer Goals
Shooting and Soccer Finishing Tips
3 keys to scoring goals for youth soccer players
9 things you want to encourage that will lead to goals
6 Recommendations that will help soccer scoring
7 Soccer Practice Games that can help increase scoring

(Below is a letter about Finishing and my reply)

Hi SoccerHelp,

My U9 boys are able to win 1 v 1 balls, dribble up the field and execute simple passes with the help of your suggested drills. I haven't been able to locate drills on SoccerHelp Premium that focus on finishing, as we now need to score some goals.


Karin, Canada, Premium Member


Hi Karin,

Thanks for being a Premium Member.

There are links to several articles about Finishing on the Premium Home Page. I've pasted part of one article below and links to several others.

David at SoccerHelp

Some other Premium Articles are:

-- Start with "Scoring More Goals"

-- Start with "Shooting and Finishing Tips"

-- Start with "Finishing Navigation Page"

Below is part of the article from Premium "How to Teach Finishing":

I wouldn't practice "finishing" -- the problem is that "finishing drills" aren't game realistic... they aren't under pressure and at Game Speed. "Drills" simply do not teach players how to play fast when under pressure... in fact, just the reverse, they teach players to play slow and players can get away with coasting along. That is the reason to play "Practice Games" that are Competitive, under Pressure and at Game Speed. A player is much more likely to perform well under pressure if he has been practicing under pressure and at Game Speed (meaning in competition where he is trying his best).

The keys to scoring goals for youth players are to:

  1. Get the ball in to scoring range (usually within 15 steps unless you want to encourage long shots - by "steps" I mean the player's steps).

  2. Get players in position to score (again, this usually means within 15 steps) and to rebound (which means one or more players in addition to the shooter). Obviously, being in an actual position to score on a One-Touch shot is the objective.

  3. To either be able to get open by:
    1. Dribbling (few players can do this, but one who can do this can score a lot of goals or create a lot of scoring opportunities... so if you have a player who is a great dribbler in traffic, meaning one who can make those quick cuts to get open for a shot, they can be very effective at Forward or coming to goal from Midfield. The Dribble Across a Square Practice Game will help this skill and allow you to tell who is best dribbling in traffic),

    2. Or be aggressive enough to beat the opponent to a loose ball or to a pass and take a ONE-TOUCH shot.

I recommend 6 things:

  1. Play the "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" Practice Game a lot and use it to teach fast, one-touch play and Aggressive Receiving. I think it will help you more than anything.

  2. Continue to play "Dribble Across a Square" to improve control dribbling which will help your players create opportunities.

  3. Consider whether you have a dribbler who is good enough to "Take On" and break down the opposing defense and, if so, put him in a position to create opportunities. This might be Center Forward or CMF... it will need to be a position where that player can get the ball a lot in order to create opportunities... so CMF might be better. Encourage this player to dribble at the defense and "take them on". Anson Dorrance is known as the best college coach ever and I think is a soccer coaching genius. His team's score lots of goals. He always tries to have an attacker who can "take on" the opposing defense and "break it down" and he encourages that player to attack by dribbling. He also teaches his other Forwards and MF's to "Flood" the area so they are in position for a pass or rebound. The "Take On Attacker" will go straight at the opposing defense and hope to pull 2 or 3 of them out of position, which will create open space and passing opportunities. If the "Take On Attacker" can shoot and score, GREAT! but if not, she passes to a teammate who one-touches the shot. Teaching quick, one-touch shooting is critical because the opportunity is fleeting and if the shooter hesitates the shot will be blocked by a Fullback or the Keeper. My team played a dribbler like this one time in U-14 Rec... he was a left Forward who would take on my Fullbacks and dribble thru them and they couldn't stop him unless the supporting FB's (CFB and LFB) pulled out of position, in which case he would pass to an open player. He scored or assisted with 4 goals and taught me a lesson. I should have brought a good athlete back to mark him to keep the ball away from him. I recommend you watch the Video Clips of the Anson Dorrance & Tom Stone Soccer Clinic DVD and read the detailed review. There is some excellent material there about finishing.

  4. Teach your Forwards and MF's that when the ball goes into scoring range, they MUST "flood" the "scoring area", watch for a pass, and be ready to take a One-Touch shot OR to try to One-Touch shoot a rebound if a teammate shoots.

  5. If you play 11v11, you can free up your MF's to "Flood" the scoring zone by playing 2 Stoppers and "stacking" them when you Push Up to support the attack. Tell one Stopper to stop in the Center Circle to slow down attacks up the Center (so teammates have time to Recover) and tell the other one to come halfway between the Half line and the Penalty Box and to SHIFT with the ball, so he is in position to win cleared balls and feed them to the attackers, or to win the ball and come into the attack himself. This should give your attack good support even if your MF's have "Flooded" the scoring zone and will also stop breakaways. Of course, if you have really good Fullbacks, you can push them up too and let both Stoppers Push Up so they are a long pass from the ball and able to win cleared balls and also participate in the attack.

  6. I recommend giving an incentive patch to players who do the things you want even if they don't score (see below for more about this). If they do the right things, they will start to score. If your team isn't scoring many goals, it could be beneficial to use the patches to motivate your players to do the things that can produce goals. Examples of behavior that you want to teach and encourage include: getting in front of the opponent's goal (most goals are score in front of the goal, and the more players you have there, the better your odds), stealing the ball from a defender and scoring in your "Attacking Third", being alert and in position for rebounds, playing off the Far Post, being aggressive, alert and hustling. In brief: if your Forwards and Midfielders are in position, alert, aggressive and hustle, your team will score goals. Over half the goals in Rec games are scored using the inside of the foot. Placement is more important than power. Shoot low and toward the corner... from inside the Penalty Box a groundball is more likely to score than a hard kicked air ball, because the shot will be more accurate (think about how many hard kicked balls totally miss or go straight to the Goalie). Once your team learns how to score, you can discontinue giving patches for scoring. SEE BELOW FOR MORE ABOUT THIS.

Here are some more ideas:

Here are some ideas for behavior you want to encourage that will lead to goals. I recommend giving an incentive patch to players who do these things even if they don't score. If they do the right things, they will start to score:

  1. Being in position for rebounds

  2. Playing off the Far Post

  3. Stealing the ball from an opponent in your "Attacking Third" (the third of the field nearest the goal you are attacking) or in your Attacking Half (the half of the field closest to the goal you are attacking)

  4. Assists

  5. Consistently being in scoring position (in front of the goal) EVEN if a goal isn't scored. (If you can get your players to do the RIGHT things, they will start to score lots of goals).

  6. Being alert, aggressive and taking a One-touch shot, even if it doesn't score.

  7. Perhaps even give a patch for any decent shot taken from inside your Penalty Box.

  8. In this phase of training, give a patch for any goal scored.

  9. Remember that you must also continue to praise and give patches to defenders, the Goalie and Defensive Midfielders (Stoppers) so they don't feel left out or second-rate. Once your attackers learn how to score, they will get lots of positive feedback and praise, and at that point it isn't necessary to give patches to attackers, and it can even be counter-productive.

If you watch a Goals DVD like "404 Great Goals" you will notice that most goals are scored directly in front of the goal...this is especially true in youth soccer. Also, you will notice that an alert Forward who stays near the Goal Front can score goals off rebounds and defensive mistakes.

Another question asked was which Practice Games can help improve scoring. There are many "shooting drills", and I've tried dozens over the years. The problem with all drills is that they don't involve competition and aren't played at game speed and under pressure - a kid might look great in a "drill", but not be able to perform as well in a game because they aren't used to the pressure and didn't perform the "drill" at Game Speed. This is the reason I started using Practice Games. There are at least 7 SoccerHelp Practice Games that I think can help scoring:

  1. Dribble, Turn and Shoot Race

  2. Dribble Around Cone and Pass Relay Race (because it encourages accuracy, alertness, coming to meet the ball, one touch shots, aggressive receiving and kicking it while running)

  3. Kick A Crossed Ball Game (teaches how to kick a crossed ball)

  4. Pass To Space, Run With Ball and Shoot Game

  5. Teaching Forwards to be Opportunistic in the Penalty Box

  6. Run To Ball and Shoot With Side of the Foot (teaches kicking a ball sideways)

  7. 2 Team Keep Away (It teaches aggressive play, double teaming to steal the ball, "channeling" the ballhandler to the sideline or into the corner as a way to steal the ball, alertness and quick decision-making. You can also use it to teach teamwork, one-touch passing, support, movement off the ball, defensive pressure, quick transitions from offense to defense, "give and go's" and wall passes and talking. This game will help your players learn to make fast decisions and how to deal with pressure, and is a great work-out - they will be worn-out after 2 or 3 minutes.)