Soccer would be (almost) nothing without goals.
To be able to score them, though, you need the know-how.
Learning how to properly kick the ball is just the first step on your path to fully grasping how to turn that into an actual goal.
Regardless of the aim of your shot, a proper kicking technique is necessary.
In this article, we’ll be explaining how to shoot a soccer ball in a few different ways: lofted shot, powerful shot and accurate shot.
Some fun drills you can do in order to perfect a deadly and accurate shot will also be provided.
Why Is Shooting & Finishing So Important In Soccer
Shooting is often what determines the final result of a game.
The team that’s more efficient at finishing usually claims the victory at the end of regulation time.
Since you may not get too many opportunities during a match it’s of monumental importance to be totally prepared to shine if and when your moment comes.
Consistent Training Is Everything
Shooting and finishing are skills that require consistent training.
For a simple reason:
If you don’t practice those skills regularly, it’ll be easy to lose them.
They’re always possible to be regained, once you get back to practicing them.
Confidence in Your Finishing Skills Is Vital
We all hear about strikers going through goal droughts.
Most of the times, they’re simply not feeling confident enough that they can score.
There’s nothing worse than an unconfident player having a shot on goal.
That is why it’s so important to keep practicing in order to maintain your confidence high up there.
If you don’t feel confident enough that you can score, train until you do.
How to Shoot a Soccer Ball
We’ll start our How to Kick a Soccer Ball tutorial here by talking about shooting and kicking technique.
Afterwards, we’ll apply what we have taught you here to finishing.
Before anything else, though:
Let’s quickly review the basics behind an actual kick.
Basic Kicking Positioning Steps:
- Take a small run-up.
- Plant your supporting foot (the one you’re not shooting with) firmly next to the ball — around 7 inches (18 centimeters) away.
- Bend the planted foot slightly.
- Lean a little over the ball with your upper body.
- At this point, many feel it natural to let the arm (opposite to the shooting side) swing or extend backwards.
- Pull your entire shooting leg straight back — in an around 45-degree angle.
- From that position, flex from your knee down and up towards your behind.
- In that last position, begin to move your entire leg towards the ball.
- Once your knee has passed your supporting foot, extend your leg from the knee down until you hit the football.
- Make contact with the soccer ball with the desired part of the foot.
- Make sure your leg follows through the ball.
These are your basic steps to kicking a football.
Everyone is slightly different, but these are good starting guidelines.
Taking them as our foundations, we’ll be making slight adjustments to a few of them in order to achieve different outcomes like power shots, improved accuracy kicks and loft tricks.
Drill 1: Basic Kicking Movement
Our first drill is quite simple.
All you need to do is to practice as you run through our Basic Kicking Positioning Steps.
Keep at it until kicking your soccer ball feels super natural and comfortable to you.
How to do a Lofted Kick
The lofted kick is one which every player needs to have in their arsenal.
Here are a few reasons why:
- You might need to cross the ball into the box for your teammates.
- You might need to pass the ball to a teammate a long way away behind other players.
- You might need to clear the ball off from in front of your goal to prevent the other team from scoring.
The best way you can add more height to your kick is to correctly position your supporting foot.
For a normal shot, you would place your planted foot around 7 inches (18 centimeters) away from the ball.
That way you’d make solid contact without being able to get under the ball too easily.
In order to get that extra height, though, you will need to move your supporting foot a little further away.
It will make it easier and more natural for your foot to be sideways and almost parallel with the football.
Then, you will have to make contact with the laces and kick through the lower half of the soccer ball.
It’s almost like doing a kind of sweeping motion through the ball.
TIP: Another way to add more height to your shot is the positioning of your upper body.
For a normal kick, you would keep your upper body slightly over the ball.
When trying to get more height, however, you need to slightly lean back. This way it’s more natural to make the contact under the ball and then follow through in an upward motion.
Now that we’ve learned how you can start kicking higher, let’s put this knowledge and your skills to the test.
Drill 2: Shooting Over the Cones
If you’ve followed our Basic Kicking Movement drill above you should already feel more comfortable in regards to your kicking technique.
It’s about time to start challenging yourself:
Try adding height to your kicks.
For this drill, you will need a few tall cones and, of course… a ball. 🙂
(If you don’t have training cones, you can use tape markers on a wall instead.)
The whole idea here is to set yourself goals with the cones / markers.
Here’s how you should go about it:
- Start off with one cone.
- Place the ball 3-5 yards (3-5 meters) back and then try to kick the ball over the cone.
- Keep kicking until you get 10 kicks over the cone in a row (without knocking it over).
Next, place another cone on top of the first one.
Keep kicking (trying to reach your 10-kicks-in-a-row objective) and adding more cones on top of each other (or setting the tape markers higher on the wall) and see how high you can go.
The higher you get the further back from the cones you need to move.
Eventually, you can try kicking the soccer ball over a goal.
Only move on to the more difficult step when the one you are on becomes too easy.
How to Shoot a Soccer Ball Harder
Everybody wants to describe their shots as powerful ones, right?
Some power is necessary but you know it:
“With great power comes great responsibility” (as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben would put it).
And by “responsibility” I mean you need to learn how to control it.
There are a few simple ways that can help you add power, but it’s important to realize when much it’s too much.
The thing is:
You’ll want to maintain some sort of accuracy as well.
The first way simply refers to how close you bring your foot back to your backside.
Step #7 of the Basic Kicking Positioning Steps is what I am referring to here.
When you bend your knee how far back you bring your foot is an indicator of power.
When I talk to my youngsters about it, I explain it as “range of motion”.
The bigger the range of motion the more power you will get behind the shot.
It’s important to know what kinds of kicks are more conducive to attaining power.
Shooting with your laces is definitely your best bet.
That’s the easiest type of kick to get momentum behind the shot as it is the most natural movement.
If you are to kick with the inside of your foot, for instances, you’d have to open up your hips and swing at the ball, which is not such a natural movement as shooting with your laces.
That being said: practice shooting hard with the laces.
There is nothing that can improve your power more than practicing your kicking technique.
Keep practicing and following these steps and tips.
TIP: This tip may seem obvious but, apparently, it’s one that many people forget: the run-up. The longer the run-up the more momentum you’ll have behind the shot.
However, there’s obviously a limit. There is no point in taking a 30-yard (~30-meter) run-up for a shot.
A more realistic example during a game would be to poke the ball out a little in front of you before kicking it. This way you can take a couple accelerating steps before making contact.
Everyone always wants to know how hard and far they can kick a ball.
That is why this drill may be fun to some, but tedious to others.
Drill 3: Kicking Harder, Farther and More Effectively
We have all seen the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović hit some monster shots.
However, as I said above, what you have to understand is that it takes a lifetime to learn how to harness that power effectively.
That’s the main purpose of this drill – which is kind of a fun game I play with my players.
To follow it, you’ll need a goal, a decent-length soccer field and your soccer ball.
Your objective for this drill is to try and keep the shot below the crossbar of the goal to make sure it isn’t a lofted chip while giving it just the right amount of power for the ball to cross the goal line.
- Start at the penalty spot (or roughly at that distance) and try to kick your beloved sphere into the goal without it ever touching the ground.
- Every time you hit the mark at your set distance, move back a couple of yards (meters).
- Keep repeating steps 1 and 2 until you cannot put the football inside of the goal anymore.
The topic of power and effectiveness here happens to crossover a little into our next section: accuracy.
How to Shoot a Soccer Ball Accurately
Power can only get you so far; accuracy is what is crucial at the end of the day.
I always tell my youngster that a well-placed soft shot into the corner of the goal is often more effective than an absolute cannon right at the goalie.
Plus, it looks as classy as one those perfect billiards shots you see from the pros.
To reach that level, though, it will take you (or anyone) days and days of practice.
Knowing your shot is very important here.
You’ll want to realize how much you tend to curl, what kind of spin you put on the ball and how high you usually kick.
All these details will help you measure in your mind where to aim at in order to get the ball where you want it to go.
TIP: Go to the penalty spot and choose the corner you wish to shoot into. Aim for the side netting. Keep doing it until you understand what kind of shot you have.
The end result is always the same, nevertheless it will help you see how your kick is.
For example: many people will curl their shots naturally but they need to be aware of that when practicing accuracy.
Practicing accuracy is easy.
All you need to do is pick a target and keep shooting.
Breaking it down into manageable steps, however, is what will make you understand whether or not you are improving.
Drill 4: Playing “HORSE” 2.0
A fun and simple game I played a lot as a child was “HORSE”.
For those of you who never heard of it, here’s how the game is played:
You set yourself targets to hit and not hitting them will result in you receiving a letter.
If you receive all five letters of the word “HORSE”, you lose.
My version of “HORSE” was a bit different, back when I used to play this game.
I would have 10 balls and a random target.
It could be the bottom left corner of a goal, a trash can or anything else you can think of.
I would then shoot all of the 10 soccer balls and if I hit the target more than half of that number (i.e., more than 5 times) I would earn a point.
Each point would function as a credit which would get me further away from receiving all the letters.
What I mean is:
If I had one point earned, re-started the game and then fail to hit the target at least 6 times out of 10, I would lose that point. If I then re-started the game and failed again, I would receive a letter of the word “HORSE”.
Playing “HORSE” is an easy way to challenge yourself.
As a child growing up and playing soccer, I found that turning practice drills into games was fun and gave me more of an incentive.
To step it up (while aiming at your target) you can try:
- Kicking harder.
- Kicking a moving ball.
- Shooting a soccer ball against a wall, controlling it and then kicking it.
- Countless other ways to make it more interesting, fun and tough once it starts to seem easy.
Using the inside of your foot is the easiest and most reliable way to start learning how to shoot a soccer ball with accuracy.
The surface area of that part of the foot is the biggest and supplies the most consistent hit.
Therefore, begin practicing accuracy using this part of your foot.
TIP: A simple accuracy tip concerns the placement of your supporting foot. Many people place it next to the ball and don’t think about it anymore.
The direction in which this foot is pointing towards is the direction you will most likely kick to, because its placement aligns your body in a natural way before you shoot.
With that being said, use this foot to aim.
All of these are fundamental shooting skills you’ll need to train to develop a well-rounded kicking ability.
Once you have mastered them individually, it’ll be time to start putting them to the test.
Up until this point in our How to Shoot a Soccer Ball article, shooting was the most important soccer skill you needed to train.
In the next section, we’ll teach you how to practice shooting in game-like scenarios; this is when kicking becomes finishing.
How to Finish in Soccer
Shooting is vital as it is the final objective of the beautiful game.
If there’s a goal involved, however, that’s when kicking becomes really fun.
There is no greater or more satisfying feeling than to score a goal that helps your team win a soccer game.
We now are going to take some of the things you have learned and apply them to the game.
Finishing means to be able to adapt to different situations and put the ball in the back of the net.
These next two drills will help you become a consistent striker.
Drill 5: Putting It Firmly on the Target
This first drill is one that I did a lot with my coaches when I was younger and something I still implement a lot during my coaching sessions nowadays.
Before anything else, you need to get a proper feel for putting the ball firmly where you want it.
- Grab a bag of 10 balls, place yourself on the 5-yard (meter) line and try to hit the side netting.
- Once you can hit 8 out of 10 with ease, move backwards from the side netting in a diagonal line.
- Repeat step 1 from your new position on the field and, as soon as you can hit 8 out of 10, repeat step 2.
- When you get to the edge of the goal box, change to the other side netting.
- By the time you have managed both sides, invite a friend to come and play with you. He / she will need to stand next to the goal on the same side you’ll be aiming at.
- Repeat the two initial steps, but this time kick the ball directly from your friend’s pass.
- To make this drill ever harder have your friend shout “low” or “high” to force you to adjust your shot accordingly.
As you progress through the drill, experiment kicking the ball harder.
This will teach you to hit with power while also being accurate.
Controlling your shooting power is one of the hardest things to do and one of the most recognized abilities by coaches.
(I can attest to that thanks to my personal experience both as a player and a coach).
This is a simple yet effective drill to really hammer down the art of kicking and finishing which will seem easier before long.
You’ll become tired after doing it for a while but it’s important to keep your focus:
Finishing needs to become second nature to you.
Drill 6: Finishing In a Game-like Scenario
The previous drill was meant to get you acquainted and feeling confident at hitting the ball firmly and accurately.
Next, we’re going to apply it to more game-like scenarios.
For this exercise, you’ll need a friend or two, a goal, a cone and some footballs.
Before proceeding, split the goal into two equal halves by placing a training cone on the middle of the goal line.
- Place yourself at the edge of the goal box.
- Choose a side beforehand and kick the still ball into that side.
- Right after, have a friend pass another ball to you which you’ll need to control and then quickly shoot it into the same side as before.
- Finally, sprint into the goal box, have your friend throw a ball up in the air (which can be a proper cross from the corner spot) and try to score on the volley.
- Repeat these steps.
To push it up a notch, your friend(s) need be standing in different locations as you repeat the drill.
For example, in another round of the exercise, your friend could stand at the halfway line and pass you the ball. You would have to control it, turn around and then shoot it.
You can also introduce a goalkeeper to the mix since it is going to be one who you will need to beat to score in a real game.
Start soft and make your way up as you gradually increase power to your shots.
It’s a great plan to make you gain confidence and become more comfortable.
Thinking you can score is a big component to finish accurately.
Finishing… the Article
In this post, we’ve explained why shooting and finishing is so important in soccer.
We told you how to shoot a soccer ball right by first narrowing out the basic kicking steps and then proceeding to teaching you how to kick it higher, harder and more accurately.
Finally, we taught you how to finish and score in the beautiful game.
Now it is up to you to take this knowledge and put it to action!
Practice all the basic individual aspects of kicking first until you feel confident.
When those become easy, start putting them together.
Start with small and soft kicks, then gradually work your way up to big and hard.
Just bear in mind:
There is no right or wrong way to kick a soccer ball.
There is only the right way for you.
Find your way, keep practicing and be confident in your finishing skills!
NOTE: Be sure to check our article on how to kick a soccer ball high.