Goalscoring opportunities

I love this session because, unapologetically, it’s about scoring goals! Of course strikers are intensely involved, but there’s also plenty of encouragement placed on midfielders to shoot from distance whenever they get the opportunity.

Shooting practice is sometimes believed to be just the domain of strikers, but having everyone adept at firing the ball towards goal is vitally important – midfielders, wingers, and in some cases even defenders, must realise that they can and will score goals if they get themselves into the right positions.

But this is much more than just a wild shooting session – a big part of what we coach involves teaching players, through repetition, experience and knowledge, when to shoot and when to lay the ball off to a team mate. Building this knowledge, and getting players switched on to second balls and rebounds, should mean teams can begin maximising the chances that come their way in the final third.



Up to 44×36 yards


Balls, cones, goals

Number of Players

Up to 7v7

Session time


Unopposed and Opposed practices and progressions 20mins each

What do I get the players to do?


The warm-up actually takes the form of a handball game, and is played on a 20×25-yard area, as shown (1). It’s 6v6, with players passing the ball around with hands and scoring with a header or a volley. What we’re looking for here is for players to work on touch and ball manipulation, getting a feel for positions and an appreciation of space.


1. In the Warm-up, a simple handball game sees reds move the ball around looking to finish the move with a header or volley into the net, in the process rehearsing movement, space, ball manipulation and technique
2. If a player scores he must run a lap of the pitch, giving the opposition a temporary numerical advantage

To progress the game, once a player scores he must run around the playing area so the other team has a one-man advantage until he returns.

Unopposed attacks

Now we set up a typical attacking scenario, as shown (2). The no.10 advances, plays combinations with no.11 and no.9 before shooting. The no.9 can spin and follow in for a potential rebound off the keeper.


• In Unopposed Attacks, the no.9 links up using two quick one-twos to fire a shot past the keeper from the edge of the box

To progress, the no.10 is now allowed to play directly into the no.9, who then feeds either attacker, before spinning off for a rebound.

Opposed attacks

This is 4v4 plus two wingers and a keeper for each side (3). We play 3v1 in each zone. Attacking teams must try to score from their zone of play (their half), or can feed the ball into the wide area for a cross. The no.9 must be ready for rebounds, and we change player positions every 4mins.


• In Opposed Attacks, we are recreating the last practice by placing two boxes together – here reds combine and a shot is taken, with the no.9 ‘mopping up’ the rebound

To progress we can now play directly into the no.9 for him to score or set up play for oncoming support (4).


• In the progression a direct pass can be made into the no.9, who chooses to feed wide for the winger. The cross is headed in by a supporting team mate

To progress further, we remove all zones to enable players to roam in any part of the pitch. First-time finishes from crosses are incentivised by being worth two goals, and we’ll also encourage players to play wide and attack the box with clever runs.


• In the final progression we remove the markers to create a 7v7 game, with players looking to harness the playing angles and philosophies already practised in the session

For further progressions we can ask central players to go two-touch, with wingers only one-touch. This serves to increase the intensity of the session as well as sharpening players’ technique.

What are the key things to look out for?

In all attacking players, we’re looking for good movement to create space for the shot. Hitting the target with any shot is essential, and wide players must ensure a quality delivery into the box with midfielders making optimistic and energetic runs. Working off rebounds or any misplaced shots is a key ‘want’ also, given that 18% of goals in the Barclays Premier League last season were scored from blocks or rebounds. And if we cannot score from a rebound, at the very least we should be making concerted efforts to regain possession. 

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