With more tactical analysis and data coming into the game in recent years, we are more aware than ever about how goals are being scored. The numbers show that the successful teams and top attacking players have the ability to generate more central shooting opportunities and, as time and space are naturally more scarce in those condensed areas, one touch finishing has become a key skill for players to have in their locker. Practicing finishing is not a new concept however, and throughout the history of the game there has always been a correlation between work on the training field and performance in games. Below is a clip of a young Harry Kane at Tottenham Hotspur working alongside assistant coach and goalscoring legend of the 1980s, Clive Allen. The notion of doing a little extra few minutes with smaller groups was always a part of Kane's development and as Allen said, "Even if it's just 5 or 10 minutes every day, it's important they develop a real consistency about how they strike the ball."
With many coaches entering a new season with fresh tactical concepts, it can be difficult to incorporate practices and exercises for your goal-scorers. However, below are five ideas that coaches can use with their attackers at various parts of the training session.
1. One-Touch Combination and Finishing
Sometimes finishing and shooting exercises without opponents can lack intensity and tempo as players are free to take as much time on the ball as they wish. In this exercise below however, the nature of the exercise challenges the players to play at speed and high quality. There are constant give-and-gos, along with finishing from different angles. Below is a video animation of the exercise.
2. Diamond Shooting Exercise
This is another exercise with a small group that you can incorporate different finishes and combinations. The nature of the diamond means that the passes are set at different angles and challenges the passer to 'open up' in possession and face forward. If the body shape is correct upon receiving the ball, it makes the penetrative pass less challenging and allows the forward to finish in a central area. Below is a video animation of the exercise.
3. Vertical Passing Combinations to Goal
It's not just the forwards who need extra practice in front of goal of course. Midfielders will also be expected to contribute to the attack and this exercise below creates different scenarios for them to combine centrally and finish on goal. More players are used but the rotations can be quick so there is a good flow to the exercise. This can also be used as a warm-up before a session to increase the tempo and set the tone for the session. Below is a video animation of the exercise.
4. Diamond Passing into Finishing
Similar to the diamond finishing exercise, this variation begins as a passing warm-up and then progresses into finishing work, and then a crossing activity. With two groups working independently, all the players are constantly moving and the tempo should be quite high. When the exercise then combines both groups, the quality needs to be high also for timing and movement around the box. Below is a video animation of the exercise.
5. Long Passing and Finishing Warm-Up Activity
The final variation is a team passing warm-up that has two unique components. Firstly, the distance of the passes are quite longer so players look to improve their passing range and accuracy. In addition, there is a 'second ball' at the end of each passing chain for the forward to finish, so the possession aspect is almost independent of the finishing part. Therefore, the same ball is circulating at all times. This challenges the players to stay alert throughout the exercise and also adds a variety with the technical challenges. Below is a video animation of the exercise.