How to design a session that improves your players' finishing skills
Want to work on finishing but unsure how to do it? Here, we look at how to help your players develop this skill.
What is finishing?
Before going into detail, it's worth defining what we mean by 'finishing'. Simply, it's the art of putting the ball in the goal. And there are many ways that this can be done – just not with your hand or arm.
What does a finishing session usually look like?
Picture this. You line up on the edge of the penalty area and pass to your coach, who lays it off for you to have an unopposed shot. One kick of the ball. Then to the back of the queue. And repeat.
While this type of session is easy to organise, it poses a problem. It doesn't reflect a real game. Sure, players are working on their technique. But they don't experience discovering space and moving into it. They also don’t get to react or recover after they've received the ball under pressure.
In contrast, the goalkeeper is often over-worked to exhaustion (due to facing shot after shot). They may also be demoralised by the number of goals they concede. After all, it's an unopposed practice where the attacker has unlimited time and touches to pick their spot carefully.
To be fair to coaches who use this type of practice, they're likely repeating what they experienced as a player or what they've seen other coaches do. But it's far from ideal. So, where should we focus our attention?
Learning from goal analysis
While we all love a 30-yard 'screamer' in the top corner, analysis of professional goals shows these aren't the most common finish.
Take Euro 2020 as an example. 82% of open-play goals were scored inside the box. And, of those finishes, the majority were within 12 yards of the goal. Plus, there were an average of 4.7 defenders and 2.9 attackers in the box – so roughly a 5v3 scenario in the penalty area. Something that's not replicated by queuing up for a free shot on goal.