FineSoccer Drill 7 - Finishing
The first drill in the finishing progression is one of my favorites because it combines finishing, defending and an incredible amount of conditioning. I simply call it the breakaway drill.
Before starting this drill, you might want to review the section below on finishing breakaways.
The set up of the field is quite simple. If available, use a full field with two full sized goals. The minimum number of players needed for this drill is 10 with two keepers although 12-14 is ideal.
Split the team into two groups. One group should be 10 yards outside of one goal with balls and the other group should be 10 yards outside of the other goal (opposite post). See the diagram below to get a better understanding of this.
Each player has a ball. The first player in the X line takes off on a full field breakaway at full speed (consider having a coach or player chase her from behind to put pressure on this one player). As soon as she finishes the breakaway, the first player in line O takes off on her breakaway. The X player who just finished her breakaway then becomes the defender and must chase the O player down to pressure her on her breakaway. As soon as the O player finishes her breakaway, then SHE becomes the defender and the next person in the X line takes off. This drill can be done for 8-10 minutes and while it might seem like there is a lot of standing around while waiting for a players turn, the truth is that the players are making TWO full field sprints in a row and need the time to recover.
Players will try to cheat in this drill to make it easier for themselves. One way will be to take off on offense before the opponent finishes her breakaway. If necessary, the coach can be the one who says "go" before the player is allowed to take off. Another way to cheat is for the player who is on offense to shoot from a far distance so she can get back quicker on defense. If this starts to happen, make the players touch the goalpost that they are finishing on before they are allowed to get back and defend (I admit it, I was the kid who was always looking for ways to cheat so I could win).
The great thing about this drill is that it works on finishing breakaways in a game like situation (under pressure of lack of time as well as while suffering from exhaustion) and it is a great way to end a training session instead of doing something that involves plain conditioning. It has been my experience that after doing this drill a few times, teams have become much more comfortable with finishing in actual games.
You can turn this drill into a competition between the two teams although if you do that, you really must guard against players starting early to cheat.
Give this drill a try but be aware that this is not an easy drill and the players must really be pushed as they get tired.
Finishing breakaways is something that is taken for granted by way too many people. It has always amazed me at how little coaches and players work on this skill yet they will spend an entire game working up to the point where they have created a breakaway opportunity. Then when this opportunity is squandered, everyone gets frustrated and says how unlucky they were.
The truth is that finishing breakaways is something that can and should be practiced on a regular basis. It's an important part of the game as well as something that can be incorporated with some other aspects of the game to utilize economical training to it's fullest.
The first thing to emphasize when attempting to finish a breakaway is score. That might sound like an obvious statement but too many great scoring opportunities are lost because the player wanted the goal to look pretty and not just put it in the back of the net. The easiest and most effective way to finish a breakaway is with a simple pass with either the inside or outside of the foot pushing the ball past the oncoming keeper. There is nothing fancy about this but it simply allows for the greatest opportunity to score a goal. Simply go at the keeper, make them commit and push the ball, on the ground, past them into the back of the net.
Before you get to actually finishing a breakaway, you must make put yourself into the best position to actually finish a breakaway. Once you have beaten the last defender, your first goal is going to go at the far post (I am assuming you are coming from the midfield and not from a weird angle such as the corner of the field). By taking this touch toward the far post, it will take you toward a more central position on the field (if you are already in a central position then go straight toward the center of the goal). This touch should be hard, allowing you to really separate yourself from the chasing defenders. Once central, go at the center of the goal and make the keeper commit to coming out to challenge (if the keeper chooses to stay back then you can score anyway you want).
Now that you are central and going at the keeper, you will wait to see which way the keeper commits and then with the inside or outside of the foot, push the ball past their feet (note that this does not have to be hit very hard). There is no need to go for side netting and it's important to remember that the hardest shot for a keeper to save is the one that is low and just outside of the foot.
As long as you keep in mind that the prettiest goals are the ones that are scored (as opposed to the flying half volley that looks impressive but go over the goal), then finishing breakaways becomes an easy task.
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