Posts Tagged ‘goals’

2010 Soccer MVP: Inside-of-the-Foot … Shooting

February 26, 2010

Author’s Note: This post is one in a series of posts that breaks down the 2010 Soccer MVP Tournament competition. Be sure to look at the final results to review how ‘Inside’ was crowned champion. What do you call this part of the foot? Please vote.

There sure is a lot of emphasis placed on shooting and scoring goals. And rightfully so. After all, if you don’t shoot, you don’t score, and if you don’t score, you don’t win games. Goals in soccer are equivalent to home runs in baseball, touchdowns in football, and slam dunks or buzzer-beating shots in basketball. It’s what puts bodies in the stands and highlights on Fox Sports Report, Gol TV, and ESPN SportsCenter. The lack of goals is usually the #1 complaint voiced among sports fan when asked what’s wrong with soccer. So players, please shoot, shoot often, and score!

The shooting discipline was divided into 3 categories: power, accuracy, and breadth. In what many will consider an upset, ‘Inside’ won this discipline as well.

Power

Without a doubt, ‘Laces’ generated the most powerful shots. Besides being able to transfer the momentum of a pass or a cross to produce powerful shots, strong shots were also generated when shots were taken with the ball in a stationary position. ‘Laces’ was able to score some fantastic goals from 25-, 30-, or 35-yards out. Talk about a ‘golazo’.

‘Inside’ came in a respectable second. On crosses, ‘Inside’ generated as much power as ‘Laces’ had. But it was not able to generate as much power from stationary or set-play shots. However, ‘Inside’ was able to score some amazing goals off of free kicks. Walls and great goalies were no match for a beautifully executed and well-positioned ‘banana kick’.

On several occasions, ‘Outside’ was able to generate the same velocity as ‘Inside’ had but only rarely. ‘Bottom’ was a non-factor.

Accuracy

‘Inside’ excelled at accuracy. The same billiard table analogy I used for receiving the ball can again be applied. The flatter the surface, the more accurate the shot. On many crosses, ‘Inside’ simply had to stick out the foot and accurately redirect the ball into the net.

Accuracy is why penalty kicks and free kicks are taken with the inside-of-the-foot. A good penalty taker has to be able to hit any target inside the goal. With the inside-of-the-foot, the lower-left corner can be hit just as easily as the upper-right corner. The same holds true for direct free kicks. When David ‘Bend-It-Like’ Beckham shoots his free kicks, he always uses the inside-of-the-foot.

‘Outside’ came in second because it was more able to consistently hit its targets than ‘Laces’. When ‘Laces’ made solid contact with the ball, it would usually go straight. However, when the ball did not make solid contact with the sweet spot on top-of-the foot, a spin or curve was introduced and the direction of the shot became more unpredictable. ‘Bottom’ was once again a non-factor.

Breadth

Goalies are so good these days that it often takes incredibly precise shots to beat them. To be effective goal scorers, players need a foot surface that can give them many shooting options. The inside-of-the-foot does this and easily won this shooting subcategory. Several ‘breadth’ tests were used in determine the winner: penalty kicks and long-distance shots with defenders in the way.

Penalty Kicks

Penalty takers try to disguise the direction of the penalty kick so the goalie is forced to guess where the ball will be kicked. Good goalies know that the position of the plant and the kicker’s approach usually telegraph the placement of the kick. That is not the case with the inside-of-the-foot. Good penalty takers are able to place the plant foot in several positions and still hit all targets inside the goal (see image below).

The same is not true when using the top- or outside-of-the-foot. As illustrated below, these surfaces limit the part of the goal that can be targeted because the plant foot needs to be positioned just so in order to execute a good kick. Therefore, good goalies can usually predict where the ball will be kicked by concentrating on the position of the plant foot.

Long Distance Shots with Obstructions

Bending the ball around defenders is an extremely important skill for forwards and free-kicker takers to have. Once again, David Beckham is able to bend or curve a shot around or over walls that are set up to defend against the free kick. This skill also comes in handy on non-set plays. When a forward needs to avoid a defender from blocking a shot, a curved shot using the inside-of-the-foot will do the trick. Even when no defenders are present, forwards will curve a shot around a goalie’s outstretched hands.

Shots with the top-of-the-foot generally go straight. If a defender is standing between the shooter and the goal, whether in a wall or in the run of play, there is a high percentage that the shot will be blocked. Shots with the outside-of-the-foot did give the kicker the ability to curve the ball around a defender, but unlike the inside, these shots had less spin.

Conclusions

In a surprise, ‘Inside’ won the shooting discipline. In terms of shooting ‘accuracy’ and ‘breadth of shots’, the inside-of-the-foot was the overwhelming winner. ‘Inside’ also did quite well in the ‘power’ category.

The other disciplines evaluated in this competition were: structure, receiving, dribbling, passing, popularity among professionals, and ease of learning.

Gol TV’s Top 100 Goals for 2009

December 31, 2009

I just finished watching Gol TV’s top 100 goals for 2009. Here are my thoughts:

  • 10-12 were chip shots over the goalie. I love it when players play with their heads up and are aware of their surroundings.
  • 6-8 where beautiful bicycle kicks. I never get tired of seeing these beautiful goals.
  • I never remember seeing goals scored like this when I was younger. The long-distance shots are just incredible.
  • 10-12 of the goals were from free kicks. While these goals are a thing of beauty, they are all pretty much the same.
  • I did not see any goals from the Premier League … I guess Gol TV does not carry the rights to show or telecast those games.
  • What about headers? Though I am not a big fan of headers at the youth level, there is nothing prettier than seeing goals scored off of headers that are low and in the corners. I guess Gol TV does not agree.
  • I do agree with the #1 for 2009. The nerve, audacity, and boldness Grafite displayed in attempting his back-heel shot is phenomenal. The lead-up to the shot is pretty good as well. It is a well-deserved honor.

Reward the Soccer Assist

October 3, 2009

We Americans are obsessed with statistics. Baseball is all about statistics. Football is heading in the same direction. Can soccer be far behind? Most professional televised games now share with its audience shots on goal, saves, corners, fouls committed, yellow cards, red cards , and time of possession at half time and at the end of the game. I understand the importance of these stats especially if you are the coach. However, as a fan, I think you can sometimes go overboard. In my book, the most important stat is the final score.

Fortunately as the youth level, I have only seen a few coaches who are overly concerned about stats. But some stats are good to track. I have no problems keeping track of who has scored the most goals on a team. While it may single out several players from the rest of the team, it is usually the parents that have the tougher time with this especially if their son or daughter is not among the leaders. On the other hand, players know and readily acknowledge who are the better players.

There is one stat, however, that if it were tracked and emphasized more, could make a team much, much better. It is the assist. Here’s my reasoning.

The better players are already scoring a lot of goals. They know it wins games. Perhaps they are getting compensated each time they score. Quite simply, next to winning and losing, it is the glamour stat. But it could come at a price. These players may hold onto the ball more than necessary resulting in the rest becoming mere spectators. However, if the assist is now the most important or glamour stat, the better players will now focus on the assist. By doing so, these players will hopefully look to get teammates involved in the game since only when someone else scores will they received the primary reward. Just think how much better a team will become. And think how much better and more well-rounded the better players will become.

I like the way professional hockey (the NHL) tracks assists and goals. They acknowledge the goal and both the primary (first) and secondary assists. Each is worth one point. I would make one change. I would award 2 points for the primary assists and 1 point each for the secondary assist and goal.

If you are a coach, try it for a few games and let everyone know if emphasizing the assist has made your team better. As parents, ask your child how many assist points they collected in the game.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Shots On Goal

September 4, 2009
Ever wonder why it seems that so many shots on goal are shot directly at the goalie? Sure it could be that the goalie is in a good position. But I am of a different opinion. I believe the main reason is due to which part of the foot is used to strike the ball.

Oftentimes, the instep (also known as the top-of-the-foot or laces) is used to shoot on goal. The main reason to use the instep is to produce a more powerful shot. A strong shot is great but if it is shot directly at the goalie, what is the point? Players will often get frustrated at themselves when kick after kick goes directly to the goalkeeper; yet this keeps happening. What is going on?

Different Technique
I consider myself an expert when it comes to using and understanding the importance of the inside-of-the-foot. I invented a soccer training device called Loopball which teaches players to use the inside-of-the-foot. You will see many more posts in this blog about Loopball and the importance of the inside-of-the-foot. For the purposes of this post, I believe the problem lies in the fact that shots with the instep require much less thought than shots with the inside-of-the-foot. Instep shots require brute strength. Inside-of-the-foot shots require forethought and placement.

The direction a ball travels can normally be traced back to the position of the plant-foot toe. For shots on goal, this toe is usually pointed at the middle of the goal. When an instep kick is well struck, it will travel in the direction that this toe is pointing which is where the goalkeeper is likely to be standing. It is usually the poorly-struck instep kicks that stand a better chance of going in. The same logic can be applied to shots with the inside-of-the-foot, but because more forethought is given with this type of shot, the kicks don’t always head for the middle of the goal. Using the inside-of-the-foot requires the player to think which side of the goal to aim for and whether or not to curve the shot around the defenders or goalkeeper.

From long distance, I definitely recommend using an instep kick. But when the ball is closer to the goal, have your players use the inside-of-the-foot and have them think about the kick. You’ll also be surprised how much force this type of kick can generate when struck well. The top players in the world usually use the inside-of-the-foot to score goals, especially with free kicks. David ‘Bend-It-Like’ Beckham certainly does and he is quite successful.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Dribble On Goal

August 26, 2009

In a typically youth game, each team will have several breakaways per game. While the offensive player simply has to beat the goalie, more often than not, a goal is not scored. The main reason for this does not happen is the offensive player ends up taking a shot from long distance and thus negating the advantage of the breakaway. The further the shot is taken from goal, the less likely it will go in. This is easily solved and will definitely results in more goals.

  • In this situation, the offensive player’s goal is to get as close to the goal as possible before shooting. Youth goalies typically either remain on the goal line or if they are good distance off the goal line, will tend to retreat instead of charge the ball. Since the goalie is usually not aggressive, the offensive player should take full advantage and get as close to the goal as possible.
  • During a practice, set up a game where the only way a breakaway goal can be scored is if the player dribbles past the goalie before shooting. This drill will condition players to get closer to the goal (it will also help your goalie become more aggressive).
  • The most common command I hear from the sidelines is, “Shoooooot!” Naturally, if a young player hears her parents and sidelines yelling ‘shooooot’, she will most likely shoot. In this and in many other cases, she is being given bad advice.
  • Oftentimes, a player will say they shot the ball because a defender was closing in on her. While that may be true, treat the comment as an excuse. The solution is to always make sure that the offensive player places himself between the ball and defender. This is easier said than done and normally takes many years for a player to understand and feel comfortable employing this tactic. Nevertheless, if an offensive player positions himself properly, the defender won’t be able to get the ball and if they try, they will likely go through the offensive player, resulting in a penalty kick.

Defensive Strategy

I have a long post that discusses tricks a goalie can use to make a huge difference in a game. For now, the best way to negate a breakaway is to teach the goalie not to retreat and instead be aggressive and move toward the on-coming ball. It is interesting to see how often a forward will panic when a goalie charges him.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Goal Kicks

August 13, 2009

Unless the defending team has a goalie or defender with a strong leg, an offensive team will have several opportunities a game to intercept a goal kick at the top of the penalty area with only the goalie and possibly one defender to beat. In these situations, the offensive team stands a very good chance of scoring a goal.

In this case, the offensive team should:

  • Camp a few forwards just outside the penalty box
  • If the player can kick the ball further, the forwards should be positioned 5 yards nearer the goal than where the ball lands. Line up the midfielders 5 to 10 yards behind the forwards. Spread the players out to cover a large area of the field.
  • Since younger players tend to telegraph where they plan to kick the ball, simply have the forwards follow the eyes of the player taking the goal kick.

The rules state that a ball is not in play until it has completely left the penalty area. Therefore, there is no reason for an offensive player to stand inside the penalty area. When the ball is touched by any player inside the penalty area, the goal kick will be re-taken. Some league or tournaments allow goal kicks to be taken from the top of the penalty area. The same strategy should be applied to these kicks as well but when they are intercepted, the offensive player is further from the goal. This is a nice way to counteract teams that employ this strategy, especially against weaker opponents or team that don’t have strong kickers.

Defensive Strategy

Conversely, if you are the defending team that is not blessed with a strong leg in the back and your goal kicks are constantly getting picked off and creating easy scoring opportunities, employ one of these tricks:

  • Have your strongest-legged player, even if it is a forward, taking all goal kicks, especially when kicking against the wind.
  • Don’t be afraid to have your goalie take the goal kicks. If their leg is not that strong, make sure to place 1 defender in goal and possibly another defender around the penalty area. Because this player is in the penalty area, they can’t have the ball passed to them. However, they will be in a position to defend immediately.
  • Take the goal kicks quickly before the offensive team has time to set up.
  • Have the kicker avoid telegraphing the kick. Have them look one way but kick the other
  • Kick to ball out the side of the penalty area. If the ball is picked off on the side, the chances of scoring are considerably less than when a ball is picked off at the top of the box. Also if the ball goes out-of-bounds for a throw-in, a throw-in is better than giving the ball up in front of the goal.
  • Toe-poke the ball. Though it is not pretty and the ball may not always go where they want it to, some younger kids get more distance on their kicks using their toe.
  • Ask the referee before the game if they will allow goal kicks to be taken from the top of the penalty spot.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Indirect Free Kicks

August 9, 2009

Treat all free kicks as direct free kicks (DFK), even when the referee signals an indirect kick (IDK). This is especially true when your team is inside or just outside the opposing team’s penalty area.

According to the laws of the game on IFKs, “a goal can be scored only if the ball subsequently touches another player before it enters the goal”. Coaches and players usually take this to mean a teammate must first touch the ball. But the law states that it can be any player.

For all IFKs around the opponents penalty area, have one of your stronger kickers take a low shot on goal. If the ball goes into the net, I guarantee you that more often than not, a field player or the goalie will have touched the ball first.

Tips:

  • Shoot the ball on the ground so it can get deflected.
  • Shoot the ball hard.
  • Before the game, tell the referee what you have planned and ask if the goal will count if the ball is touched by a defensive player. During a game, some referees could be caught off-guard by this tactic.

Defending Against the Indirect Free Kick

Conversely, if an opponent employs this method for all its IFKs, the defending goalie plays an important part besides trying to save the shot. First of all, she needs to know if the free kick being taken is a direct or indirect free kick. If the free kick is an IFK, the ball is heading directly for the goal, and the ball has yet to touch another player other than the kicker, the goalie should wisely let the ball go into the goal. Since the ball did not touch a second player, a goal kick will be awarded to the defending team and more importantly, the goal will not count. However, should the goalie attempt to save it, get her hands on the ball, but have the ball still go into the net, a goal will be awarded.

BE SMART GOALIE!


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