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The Final Finishing Phase

As presented by England's FA at the UEFA "A" License

The act (and often the art) of goal-scoring is the final reward for successful attacking play. From the relatively simple tap-in to the 40-yard power strike, it matters little how the ball crosses the goal line.

Finishing practice provides hours of enjoyable and beneficial rehearsal time for the players who find themselves with an opportunity to strike at goal.

The critical ingredient of accuracy is the prime factor in goal scoring, but the added dimensions of swerve, force, disguise, flight and (of course) placement are all crucial.

Developing consistent and intelligent goal scorers should be a coach's aim. When one considers that the most clinical goal-scoring team in the Premier League in 2008-09 converted only 15 percent of its attempts on goal, and the least clinical 8 percent, there appears to be a crucial need in this area — especially for forwards. For daily practice, the skill of goal scoring can be taught. The ability to move into goal-scoring positions and reading the likelihood of scoring opportunities comes from endless practice, experience and excellent teaching.

The aim of all potential forward players, in particular, should be to score at a minimal average rate of one goal in every one and a half, or two games. Ferenc Puskas, the great Hungarian player, scored at an average rate of virtually one goal in every game for his National team, returning 84 goals in 85 International matches. That record was bettered by his compatriot, Sandor Koscis, who scored 75 goals in 68 International matches, and Gerd Muller, who returned 68 goals in 62 matches for Germany. Both scored at an average rate of 1.1 goals in each game.

Whether that rate of goal scoring is feasible in the modern game is questionable. However, there are players operating at the highest levels who have scoring records bordering on (but slightly less) than one goal per game. The bedrock of finishing practice is teaching the skills of observing the position of the goalkeeper whenever possible, making the correct decision on which skill to employ when shooting for goal and making accurate contact with the ball. However, there will be occasions where a player is unable to go through this process and has to respond quickly — some would say, instinctively — to strike at goal.

Instilling the qualities of accuracy, cleverness, finesse, disguise and both psychological and physical courage comes from repetitive scoring practice, undertaken in different situations.

Enjoy the below examples of some finishing exercises for 12-16 year-old players.

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