Scoring goals in soccer is very difficult. Because of the amount of players involved, the size of the field and the nature of the game, it is tough to find ways to put the ball in the net. For this very reason, fans and enthusiasts alike appreciate the game of soccer for its rawness. Games often finish with 1 goals scored if not at all.
We often hear about natural goal scorers. What is a natural goal scorer? Maybe you have even heard about a clinical finisher. What is a clinical finisher? If you score a lot of goals, are you a natural goal scorer? Are you a clinical finisher?
What I would like to breakdown is the characteristics of a natural goal scorer vs. that of a clinical finisher. Although they are often used interchangeably, by no means are they the same thing. In this two series blog, I will first discuss the natural goal scorer. I will breakdown some of the things they do in order to score the way they do and hopefully that will give forwards and players alike some hints as to how to find ways to score more goals. In the second blog, I will discuss a clinical goal scorer. I will explain how this player differentiates from a natural goal scorer and how anyone can train themselves to be a clinical goal scorer.
Much like some kids who are just born with a certain talent that you cannot explain or teach, some players are born with a nose for the net. These players somehow find ways to score no matter what. Often times it isn’t pretty nor is it something that makes you think “nice goal”; however, at the end of the day it’s a goal. These are players can be non-factors for about 89 minutes of a 90 minute soccer game, but get that one chance and score. These types of players will do this every game; they are unseen except for the one chance they get and score. The value of these types of players immeasurable – they need one chance and that’s it.
As a defender, these are the types of players that make you want to rip your hair out. You guard them almost perfectly the entire game and they barely touch the ball. The one play you, the defender, do not cover that player well enough, you find him/her beside the net taping the ball in off a rebound. Sound familiar? These types of players are found in all levels of soccer – even at the professional level.
And what player better fits this description than the Italian, and AC Milan, master Filippo Inzaghi. Watch this video which highlights a compilation of goals that are typically scored by Inzaghi. Notice how many of his goals are tap-ins and scrappy. None of these goals would necessarily make a highlight chart, but these are the types of goals Inzaghi scores almost every game he plays in. As a result, he has been labeled as one of the best natural goal scorers of all time.
Another player that is notoriously known as a natural goal scorer is the former Manchester United striker and Dutch hero Ruud Van Nistelrooy. He is said to have scored more goals inside the 6 yard box than any player ever. He knew where to be and always found himself in the right spot. Again, this isn’t something you can teach a player. Some players know how to read the game and anticipate where the ball will end up. Consequently, they usually find themselves where the ball is.
Even though it is difficult-to-impossible to teach someone an instinct – in this case an instinct for where the ball will be – it is possible to teach players to anticipate. Here are a few hints on how to find yourself at the right spot to score more goals.
1. When a ball is about to be crossed into the box or passed along the face of the goal, make quick and sudden directional moves away from a defender in order to give yourself just enough separation and room to get a shot off if its to come to you. In soccer you do not need to be wide open in order to score a goal – you just need a step.
2. Make full-paced runs into an area. When a ball is about to be crossed or about to be passed, sprint to where you see the ball being. The reason you want to sprint is because you will create separation from your defender and you will get to the ball before any other defender can. Before they have the time to turn around or make a play on the ball, you have tipped the ball passed the goalie.
3. Be patient. Continue to make these same runs and continue to make them in and around the area of the net. Always wait around the net and always try to anticipate angles of crosses and passes. As I mentioned above, natural goal scorers need one chance and they will patiently wait for it the entire game. So, be patient and always be ready to pounce.
4. Finally, the most important point is that natural goal scorers hang on the shoulder of the last defender the entire game. They try to be as far up the field as possible without being offside. When you are on the shoulder of the last defender the entire game, you are bound to get a chance to make a run or just get in and behind the defender to get a shot off or score a goal.
If you continue to practice these tips on the field and always linger around the net, eventually it will become a habit and you will make these types of runs without thinking twice – it will become natural. I repeat, it will become natural…suddenly you will be a natural goal scorer because of tips you turned into habits which then became natural.
What are some of the other characteristics of natural goal scorers you have observed and believe to be true?