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Footballs sit on top of cone

Finishing session: football bowling

Jo Williams, FA coach development officer, shares the first of two arrival activities to help young players improve their finishing skills.

Football bowling

Football bowling

Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan and give it a go. 


This activity works best in twos or threes and provides an opportunity for player ownership.  

You only need a few cones, footballs and a small area to play in. Then, ask your groups to place the cones wherever they want in their area – and put a football on each one. This creates several 'bowling pins'. 


The aim is for your team to practise using their finishing techniques accurately.  

Players take turns to see how many footballs they can knock off the cones – in other words, how many 'pins' they can knock over. Whoever knocks the most footballs off wins.  

A time or shot limit can be used to structure the session. 


If your team master the game – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. This activity is an excellent opportunity to put your players in the driving seat. For example, they can decide:  

  • where the cones should be positioned  
  • how far away players should be from the cones  
  • what the scoring system is  
  • if it's a collaborative game (working together to knock the balls off) or a competition (one against the other)  
  • the permitted shooting techniques, e.g. keeping the ball on the floor, allowing it in the air, using volleys, shooting with laces or with the inside of the foot.  

But remember, learning takes time. So don't alter your activity too quickly or too much. To help, try using the STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002). This is a great way to keep things fun, engaging and appropriate.   

If you use this session with your team, let us know how you get on by posting in the England Football Community.