Academy Week 3 Focus: Attacking & Finishing

Attacking is not an aspect of the game only reserved for strikers and midfielders. Every player is involved in attacking when the team is in possession of the ball – including the goalkeeper who often times is the first point of distribution when building an attack up the field. 

There are many ways to build an attack that leads to a goal scoring opportunity. One of the most utilized approaches is from the wing. Outside midfielders and fullbacks can make impactful runs down the sides of the field, drawing out the opposition's defenders and leaving an opening in front of the goal for strikers and central midfielders. This approach requires wing players to develop accurate crossing capabilities. The most dangerous type of cross is one that lands behind the defensive player and allows an attacker to run onto it. A great example of this is the cross from Megan Rapinoe to Abby Wambach in the 2011 World Cup. It's much harder for the defender to clear a cross when they are back-tracking to catch it.

Every player should practice finishing. You never know when you'll find yourself in front of the goal, and it's important to maintain composure with the ball at your feet. Finishing is a skill that requires constant practice and repetition throughout the duration of a player's career – even the world's top players sometimes fail to finish a simple goal scoring opportunity. Great goal-scorers will use any part of the body to score a goal, so it's imperative to nail down proper technique at an early stage in development.

Tips For Great Striking & Finishing:

1) Lean over the ball. This is a crucial aspect to striking the ball. Leaning over the ball keeps it from rising too high and too quickly off the ground. When you see a player clear a shot well over the goal, it was because they lifted their shoulders and chest when they went to strike. This can happen even inches away from the goal.

2) Strike the ball with your laces and toe down. This is proper striking technique that ensures that the most power is generated behind the ball, it's trajectory is accurate, and it's rise is at the right height off the ground. 

3) Plant your non-shooting foot pointed in the direction of the goal. This ensures that the rest of your body is directed towards the goal and the trajectory of the ball will be accurate.

4) Maintain balance and composure. Keep your eye on the ball. Focusing on the ball, and maintaining your balance while in motion will allow you to accurately strike the ball.

5) Remember the variety of ways you can finish the ball. Scoring a goal can be done in a variety of ways from headers, to volleys, lobs, and rolling shots to the corner of the goal. Not every goal is blasted into the back of the net – many are finessed past the keeper. 

 

Images & featured video courtesy of Nike Academy.