Clinical Finishing

I always instill in my strikers the difference between shooting and finishing. We see shooting in every game – a chance comes along and the forward puts his laces through the ball. But finishing is very different and much more valuable, particularly in the modern game where the number of clear-cut chances that develop in matches is decreasing.

Finishing is all about technique inside the box, being clinical, and controlling a shot, generally by using the side of the foot.

True finishing technique can be picked up from any age. I signed DJ Campbell for Brentford when he was 23. He was very raw and had come into the professional game late, but he learnt quickly. And his finishing for Blackpool in their Championship play-off semi-final against Nottingham Forest last season was technique exemplified – finding position, staying calm, then passing the ball beyond the goalkeeper into the net.



Penalty area


Two or more balls, goal, cones

Number of Players

1 goalkeeper

Any number of strikers

What do I get the players to do?

Place a cone a yard inside each goalpost. The striker, standing in the centre of the D outside the penalty box, passes the ball to the coach, who is standing directly in front of him on the 18-yard line. The coach will touch the ball out to either side, the striker must side-foot past the goalkeeper between the left or right cone and the post. He can follow-up any rebounds. Strikers retrieve their shots and return to the start area.

The coach will switch play from side to side to test the left and right foot in equal measure.

Next, we tell the striker to shoot across the keeper, with an additional forward in place to follow-up any loose balls with a one-touch finish. We are always looking to alter the shooting angle, by changing the placement and weight of the set-up pass.

To progress, stand the forward at the junction of the D and the 18-yard line on the other side of the box. A ball is played to the penalty spot where the striker meets it for a finish into the bottom corner. Repeat the drill from both sides using both feet, but maintaining a high tempo throughout.


• The striker’s pass is touched to either the right or the left for a shot on goal, aimed between the post and the cone.


• The striker now shoots across the goalkeeper with an additional forward ready to react to rebounds.


• The coach now serves the ball from the goal line to the penalty spot for the player to shoot across the keeper.

What are the key things to look out for technically/tactically?

Striking the ball sweetly and cleanly is essential. The player’s shoulders and head have to remain still. His head must be over the ball, his body upright, and he needs to follow through on the shot. The technique must be like a golfer holing a putt, not a ‘Happy Gilmore’ smash!

How do I progress the session?

The best progression of this is practice. Players need to build confidence by aiming for small targets and placing the ball accurately. I will always tell my players to watch the scoring techniques of the game’s very best players. We will also compile DVD material of our own players finishing well to praise those doing well and to build confidence.


• Set up as a 5v2 overload of attackers in half, and begin from the back.


• Utilise free men to create clear goalscoring chances.


• Strikers finish by passing the ball into the net.

How would you put this into a game situation?

Play in the space of two 18-yard boxes placed next to each other. In each box, organise a 5v2 overload of attackers. Start play with one of the two defenders who passes forward into the opposing half, and progress from there.

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