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A young player uses the inside of her foot to send an effort towards goal from close range during a match on an indoor 3G pitch.

Scanning

If they’re going to take a shot, your team need to know what’s going on around them.


For example, before a player gets the ball, they must find out where it is. Then, as they receive the ball, they need to watch its approach. How fast is it going? Is it moving at an angle? Could a defender intercept? Finally, once they have the ball, players need to scan for opportunities. Where’s the keeper? Do I have support? Am I about to get tackled?


By gathering this information, your team can judge how and when to shoot. In the video below, Ian Parkes, FA youth coach developer (futsal lead), outlines a simple acronym to help players remember what to look for.

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Timing

From making a run to picking a position, timing underpins everything. Ultimately, it can be the difference between winning and losing.


To get their timing right, players must base their decisions on what the opposition (and their teammates) are doing. For instance, timing a run during the moment the opponent looks away. Another example would be making a move when their teammate puts their head down just as they’re about to play the ball.


To develop great timing, encourage your players to:

  • notice triggers and cues – like a teammate pulling their foot back to pass the ball forward
  • continually scan the pitch to gather information that will help them make good decisions
  • practice judging gaps between players, and the speed and flight of the ball.

These steps can help your team read the game, anticipate moves, and then time their reactions to match.


Movement

Players need to master their bodies. If they can control their physical movements – agility, balance, coordination and speed – they’ll be capable of shooting successfully.


Your players also need to be able to make different runs. And there are lots of options to think about. For example:

  • straight runs
  • diagonal runs
  • arched runs
  • checked runs (changing direction mid-run)
  • running across or behind a defender
  • running to then stop and stand still in space.

Each of these approaches has different benefits. Your players must be capable of choosing the right one – and putting it into action.


To help your team develop their movement skills, try playing:

  • tag games (with and without the ball)
  • small-sided games, e.g. 1v1 or 3v3
  • alternative invasion games, like handball.

These activities offer lots of benefits. For example, playing tag allows your team to work on their agility, balance and coordination. And small-sided games get players closer to the action – they also facilitate more time on the ball.


Positioning

To pick up a good position, your players have two main options. First, they could stand ‘blind side’ of the defender – so they can’t be seen. Second, they could stand in front of the defender – where they can be seen. In the clip below, Matt Jones, FA coach development officer (D&I), and Ian discuss:

  • the benefits of both these approaches
  • how to adopt a stable position before taking a shot
  • why players must be aware of their teammates’ positions.

Deception

When shooting, ask your team to consider deception in the following ways.


How they use their movement

For example, a player could run across a defender to pull their opponent out of position. Then, they could quickly change speed and direction to drop back into space and pounce on the ball.


When they strike the ball

For example, a player could fake that they are going to shoot. Or they could make their play earlier than expected to catch the opposition out.


What technique they use to finish

For example, a player facing down the keeper 1v1 may decide to use a toe-poke or a dink. This type of shot doesn't take much time and could surprise their opponent.


Harry Kane’s first goal against Ukraine at Euro 2020
is a good example of this.


Techniques

There are so many ways to score a goal in football. Side foot, laces, outside of the foot, toe poke, volley, header – the list goes on.


Naturally, some of these finishes occur more often than others. For instance, you’re more likely to see toe pokes from younger players.


If you want to work on different ways to shoot, try our five goals, five ways session. It’s a fun way to introduce your players to a wider range of techniques. Plus, you can adapt it to suit your team.