How to get your Players to Shoot from Distance

Youth soccer dribbling the ball into the goal.

Who doesn’t love a screamer of a goal from distance; it’s one of the most aesthetically appealing goals in the game.  A major reason it’s so aesthetically appealing is because it happens so rarely.  And a reason it happens so rarely is because players refuse to shoot from distance; they would rather try to walk the ball into the goal.  What coaches/players don’t understand is that if you start taking shots from distance it will open up the game and provide more opportunities.

If you start taking shots from outside the box defenders will naturally recognize this and start to creep forward, opening up the space in behind.  Defenders will start diving in to try to block the shot, leaving them vulnerable.  Several things could happen here, you could fake the shot, cut, and get in behind the defender or, you could fake the shot, cut, and get fouled in a dangerous area.  Also, if the defenders start to creep forward to try to defend the shot, they are opening up space in behind them for players to make runs towards goal.  Even though it’s low percentage, there are ample positives from taking shots from distance.  You could get a deflection and get a corner, it could deflect into the goal, it opens up space in behind the defenders, and on a rare occasion, you can score a gem! 

Too many times when players take shots from distance you see arms from coaches, players and parents flail into the air in frustration.  Goodness me, they need educated.  Have you heard of negative non-verbal communication?  A player knows when they make a mistake and they know when they have taken a bad shot.  The negative non-verbal (or verbal) gestures only discourages the player from attempting it again.

The best way to get your players to start to shoot from distance is to encourage, encourage, encourage!  Educate your players on the benefits of what happens you do shoot from distance.  Incorporate drills into your practice that forces your players to shoot from distance.  This can easily be done by setting up a boundary that you aren’t allowed to shoot in front of or you lose possession.  If you are having a serious issue that your players are refusing to shoot from distance include more drills with this boundary and do it on a regular occasion (there are several drills that can be used to teach the same concept).  Your players will learn by repetition.  Even consider having a rewards system that if they shoot from outside the box during a game, they will receive quench gum (or something of the likes).  You can never go wrong with repetition and rewards!

Over time your players will learn when it’s a good time to take a shot at goal and when you should look at other options.  It becomes a natural instinct as you learn and understand the game.  Until it becomes learned, encourage your players to take shots from distance and make sure they understand not to yell at their teammates when they do attempt the shot.  Even if it’s a little dribbler that doesn’t make it to the goalie make sure you tell them to keep shooting.  It’s amazing the things that can happen when you put the ball into dangerous areas.  You could even score off a beach ball!

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Tomo is your prototypical “soccer guy.” A four year starter at Shippensburg University, Tomo owned the defensive midfield with his awesome vision of the game and hard-nosed style of play. An avid Chelsea fan, he’s left scratching his head wondering what owner Roman Abramovich will rotate through Stamford Bridge. Tomo also blogs about Chelsea and the English Premier League on his site TomoTimes.

One thought on “How to get your Players to Shoot from Distance”

  1. totally agree! I’ve been working with my 8 year old daughter and she has no problem shooting from the half field line or sometimes even further back. Even at her age she had learned when to attempt the shot and she has scored some awesome looking goals in the past year or so of us working on it. Granted she has a really powerful and accurate kick so when her teammates attempt similar kicks, the ball usually doesn’t end up anywhere near the target but it puts the ball in dangerous places or wins a corner. And naturally if there is no immediate reward, parents and one of the coaches respond as described in the article which leaves me looking odd for giving kids the thumbs up and letting them know they had a good try. It’s difficult this season not being the coach; I have to bite my tongue a lot in order to keep from contradicting messages sent by the coaches.


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