There’s nothing quite like the feeling of scoring a goal in soccer. Over the years, I’ve learned there are 11 key factors to being effective in front of goal. To help you out, I’ve listed them here in this post.
Follow each of these steps, and you will significantly increase your chances of scoring a goal every time you’re out in the soccer field.
How to score a goal in soccer:
- Look at the goal
- Notice where the space is
- Position the ball where you want it
- Be aware of where the opposition players are
- Position yourself correctly
- Point your non-kicking foot towards the goal
- Keep your head over the ball
- Look at the ball as you make contact
- Maintain your balance
- Strike the ball with the laces of your shoe
- Follow through with your foot
Remembering all of these points when you are in the middle of a soccer game may seem daunting at first, but the more you practice, the sooner these will become second nature, and in no time at all, you’ll be using these techniques without even thinking about it!
I’ve also added a graphic with each of the steps listed at the end of this article. Feel free to save it and print it off. That way, you can have it with you to go over as you train.
Let’s cover each of the 11 points in more detail.
1. Look at the Goal
The first and most important action you need to take if you are going to score a goal is to look up at the goal.
Far to often, when a player is in a position to score, you will see them kick the ball towards the goal without even taking a second to look up and see where the goal is.
This effectively becomes a “hit and hope” shot instead of a measured and effective attempt at scoring a goal. And although “hit and hope” attempts do occasionally work, they should only be used as a last resort as opposed to using a better technique.
Taking the time to look at the goal before you take a shot allows you to:
- more accurately judge the distance between yourself and the goal at that moment
- Re-orient yourself to where the goalposts are
- See where the space is in front of the goal
As you approach the goal or find yourself in a position to score, take a split second to lift your head up and look at the goal. You may only have time to quickly look out of the corner of your eye, but even this will set you up for a far more effective shot on goal, and a much better chance of making the attempt count.
2. Notice Where the Space Is
As I just mentioned, one of the most important reasons for taking the time to look at the goal before shooting is to be aware of where the space is in front of the goal.
As you look at the goal, notice where the goalie is standing. Are they in the middle? Are they slightly over to the left? Or maybe they are more to the right?
You want to be aiming for the ball to go wherever you see the most space in front of the goal. The nearer the ball is to the goalie, then the higher the chance is that they will be able to stop it. If you can keep the ball out of reach from the goalie, then you give yourself a much higher chance of scoring a goal.
When you notice space around the goalie, try to hit that target but keep the ball as close to the ground as possible. The closer the ball is to the ground, the harder it is for the goalie to stop it.
This is because the goalkeeper not only has to reach across to stop the ball but also has to get down low. This extra time, however small, can be the difference between scoring a goal and having a shot saved.
3. Position the Ball Where You Want It
As you get in a position to take a shot at the goal, you need to make sure the ball is in the area you want it to be.
If the ball is too close to your feet, then you will be at risk of under hitting the ball and not being able to get enough power behind your shot. And if the ball is too far away, then you may not even be able to reach it!
When taking a shot at goal, the position you want the ball to be in is next to your standing foot. You also want it to be just far enough from you that when you swing your foot, you make contact with the ball while your head is roughly above the ball.
This will take time and practice to figure out what position works best for you. Every player is slightly different, and no one position works for everyone.
My advice is to get our on the soccer field, or even in your back yard, and start practicing. And if you need a goal to practice with, I would recommend getting this one from soccer.com.
4. Be Aware of Where the Opposition Players Are
Knowing when to take a shot at goal is almost as important as how you take that shot.
One of the factors to be aware of when taking a shot is knowing where the opposition players around you are.
If there’s a player in front of you about to block your shot, then it’s probably not time to attempt to score. Or if a player is coming in from the side of you, they may steal the ball from your toes as you line up a shot.
Part of your mental assessment over whether it’s time to take a shot should include an awareness of the location of the opposition players. If they are blocking your shot or about to tackle, you consider holding off shooting. But if there is space around you or in front of you, now may be a perfect time.
This awareness is essential throughout the whole game, not just when you are attempting to score a goal.
As you are playing, always keep an eye on what is happening around you. Where are the other players? What direction are they moving to? Where is the space that I can move into?
5. Position Yourself Correctly
Your body position is vitally important when taking a shot at goal. If you want to score, improving your technique in this area will significantly increase your chances of scoring a goal.
The correct position to be in as you take a shot is:
- Point your non-kicking foot towards the goal
- Keep your head over the ball
- Look at the ball
- Keep your arms out to the side to maintain your balance
Let’s look at each of these points in more detail.
6. Point Your Non-Kicking Foot Towards the Goal
This is an essential tip that many people forget. In their excitement and rush to strike the ball, they neglect to think about what they are doing with their other foot.
The reality is that where you place your non-kicking foot is going to give you the foundation for your whole body as you attempt to score a goal. A strong foundation will increase your chances of scoring, and a weak foundation is going to make things harder.
Try and place your non-kicking foot around 18 inches from where you will strike the ball. This will be a good distance to allow you to kick the ball comfortably. As you plant your foot flat on the ground, make sure your toes are pointing in the direction you want the ball to go.
Although you can kick the ball in a different direction, it is easier and more natural to send the ball in the direction your body is facing.
Practice this technique by going over it slowly. As you get used to the run-up and planting your foot correctly, don’t worry about the power behind the shot. Master this step and then move onto the next.
7. Keep Your Head Over the Ball
As you take a shot and attempt to score aim to keep your head and body over the ball. Using this technique will give far more control and accuracy to your shot.
If you lean back too far and make contact with the ball while it is too far in front of you, then it becomes much harder to control the trajectory of the ball. When this happens, the ball usually ends up flying high over the crossbar of the goal.
If you can keep your head over the ball as you strike it, you will find it much easier to keep the ball low and on target. This gives you a much better chance of scoring a goal.
As you practice this, make sure you don’t take it too far and lean over the ball more than you need to. This will only lead you to lose your balance and struggle to score.
You want to aim for your forehead to be just over the ball. Any more and you may find you start to lose your balance.
8. Look at the Ball as You Make Contact
As you practice keeping your head over the ball when taking a shot, focus on keeping your eyes fixed on the ball at this moment as well.
I know from experience that when striking the ball, it can be all to easy to take your eyes off the ball for a split second to look up and see where the goal is and where the other players are. Knowing those two things are essential, but what matters most at this moment is striking the ball cleanly.
You need to keep your eyes fixed on the ball as your foot makes contact. For a split-second, forget everything else that is going on around you. Simply focus on your foot and the ball. Make sure the contact is exactly how you want it to be, and the ball will move in the direction you intend for it to go.
The contact between your foot and the ball at this moment can make all the difference between the ball ending up in the back of the goal or the ball flying past the goalpost.
This is especially important when heading the ball as looking away at the wrong moment can make a header far more uncomfortable than it needs to be. I wrote about this in more detail here if you want to know more about how to head the ball without it hurting.
9. Maintain Your Balance
We have touched on this already, but the importance of maintaining your balance as you take a shot is critical. It can make a significant difference in the outcome of your attempt to score. [source]
How well you are balanced will partly come down to your non-kicking leg and the use of your arms.
Making sure your standing leg is planted firmly on the ground as you strike the ball is vital. You don’t want to be upon your toes or have both feet off the ground at the same time. Either of these will make it very hard to score. Try and keep your standing leg slightly bent and “soft” at this moment as well to allow your body to adjust and maintain your balance.
Likewise, you don’t want your arms close in to your body as this restricts your ability to stabilize your body as you swing your foot at the ball. You want to aim to have your arms out to the sides and up around shoulder height.
As you train between games, take time to work on your core strength. A higher level of strength in this area will give you more control over your body’s movements and help you balance more effectively. You may even want to consider trying out the free trial with the fitness app Aaptiv to help you increase your fitness with a personalized training plan. Click here to check out their website.
10. Strike the Ball With the Laces of Your Shoe
To get the most power and accuracy on your shot, you want to aim to strike the ball with the top or laces of your shoe.
If you hit the ball with this part of your shoe, then you will be able to transfer the most amount of power from your leg into the ball. It also allows the ball to travel from your foot to the goal as quickly as possible.
The top of your foot or the laces on your cleats is one of the flattest areas of your foot to kick the ball with. Using this area gives you a high level of control over the ball. This control and accuracy give you an increased ability to kick the ball in the direction you want it to go.
Don’t always go for power. Striking the ball as hard as you can is not always the best technique for scoring a goal. Sometimes it pays to be a little more controlled. You may even want to use the inside of your foot to give yourself more control over where the ball goes.
11. Follow Through With Your Foot
The final point in the steps to scoring a goal is to make sure you follow through with your foot after you have kicked the ball.
What I mean by this is that once you have made contact with the ball, allow your leg to keep moving forward. Don’t stop at the point that your foot made contact.
Following through with your foot and leg is beneficial for two reasons.
- It increases the amount of time your foot is in contact with the ball
- It increases the amount of power or force you can put into the ball.
One of the benefits of being in contact with the ball for a longer time is that you have more control over the accuracy of your kick. At the moment your foot is in contact with the ball, you are pushing the ball in a specific direction. The more contact you have with the ball, the more time you have to direct the ball.
Following through is important because it means that the moment you make contact with the ball is during the middle of your swing and not at the end. If it was at the end of the swing, then you would be slowing down as you make contact. If contact is mid-swing, then you are still moving at full speed.
This allows the contact with the ball to be made at full speed and, therefore, full power.
Again, the most important thing you can do to improve your skills in this area is to practice. Get out on the soccer field or in your backyard and strike the ball over and over again. Each time you do this, focus specifically on following through with your foot. Over time it will become second nature.
These 11 steps explaining how to score in soccer should set you up to be a much more prolific scorer of goals. Regularly practice each of these, and you should see your rate of scoring goals increase before you know it!
For more information on how to improve your game have a look at one of these other articles I’ve written to help you:
Find out how a pro soccer player trains here
Find out how to juggle a soccer ball like a pro here
and find out the 21 tips every soccer player needs to know here