Our first few entries in the Anatomy of a Goal series have focused on great goals and great goalscorers.
In this post, we take a look at some of the tips that great goalscorers and coaches have that may help the budding striker – or any player – develop the art of scoring goals.
Sir Alex Ferguson is said to have been an excellent man-manager but, in later years particularly, not necessarily the greatest coach on the training pitch. It could be said that his best signings weren’t players, but rather the experts that he surrounded himself with at the club: those that dealt with the day-to-day training of the players.
Trust needs to be built up between player and coach. A big change in the system can have both positive and negative effects – might we be seeing this theory in action at United currently?
If a team is struggling, the burden on the goal scorers becomes much heavier. Chances to score become more rare. We saw Robin van Persie score plenty of goals in a confident Manchester United side last season. This year, although also peppered with injury problems, we have seen a different player altogether.
There was an indication that the players are struggling to put into practice their new manager’s plans, thus losing confidence, when the Dutchman laid bare some concerns in a TV interview. The Guardian reported van Persie saying that “Our fellow players sometimes occupy the space I want to play in.”
Scoring goals requires a large amount of effort and skill. Pace, power, agility, being able to dribble the ball at speed between players or turn a man and get a shot on target within split seconds are the commodities that make a striker the most highly-valued player on the pitch. It is vitally important to supplement these these attributes with a positive mental attitude.
Top strikers know that they are going to score goals.
The website http://footy4kids.co.uk features a quote from Dutch coaching guru Hans Westerhof on how to develop players, which applies to all ages.
” Self-confidence is really nothing more than knowing what it is you have to do (your basic tasks) and knowing that you can do it. The coach must send his players onto the pitch with the right basic tasks. Players must not be given orders they are unable to carry out.”
The current Cardiff manager and former Manchester United striker, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, echoed these thoughts when asked by FourFourTwo magazine on his tips to improve goalscoring, saying:
“I used to watch other strikers all the time, then go out and copy them. You need to know what to do first, then go and train to become as good as you can be…practice by yourself so the you’re mentally ready.”
Chelsea striker Demba Ba told the same site that you have to enter an almost zen-like state of mind – ignore the goalkeeper and focus solely on the target.
“Trust your instincts…have an idea where you want to put the ball and stick to it. When you receive the ball, your mind will send a signal to the rest of your body.
The highly respected Coerver coaching method teaches that finishing is not something that can be shouted as an order. It is to be treated as an instinct that should be nurtured in ALL players, not just strikers. If players feel that they are uncomfortable when a chance arrives, they will pass on the responsibility and sit back waiting for the game to come to them.
Their mantra is “Everyone should think they can score!”
Coerver offers a quick training drill that will help to relax players and hone the skill of scoring goals.
Coerver Coaching Game:
Setup a 30- by 40- yard area with a goal and a goalkeeper at each end.
Create four teams of two players with different color pinneys or bibs, set a target number of goals and throw a ball in to start the game.
Teams can score in either goal and from anywhere on the field.
When a team scores the target number of goals, it rests while the remaining teams continue in the same pattern until one team is left as the losing side.
The three winning teams return to the field to start again at zero and play continues as such until a final game between two sides.
A further tip is to advise players to follow all shots because many goals come from rebounds.
Goal droughts can happen to all strikers. We have all seen many fine players suffering from the effects of this, but there is a clear message from many sources that the important thing is to stay positive.
You know exactly where the goal is – it doesn’t move. Be alive to possibilities, treat every new game as a fresh opportunity and trust your instinct.