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In a previous blog I talked about natural goal scorers and some of the characteristics they have on the soccer field. I made a point to distinguish the difference between a natural goal scorer and a clinical goal scorer. In this blog I would like to talk about the characteristics of clinical goal scorer and how you – with practice – can become a clinical goal scorer yourself.

What is a clinical goal scorer?

A clinical goal scorer is one that knows how to beat a goalie when the ball is at his/her feet. They know where a goalie’s weak spots are; they know where they can shoot to give a goalie a difficult time; they know how to score.

When I say a player knows how to score, that originally seems odd — I mean essentially, we all know how to score. Why then is it that some of us score more goals than others? Why is it that some forwards score more goals than other forwards? It is simply because they understand how to score.

Let us begin to breakdown the characteristics of a clinical goal scorer and understand what is meant by understanding how to score.

Characteristic #1: Clinical goal scorers keep their head up

When clinical goal scorers find themselves in front of the net with the ball they always have their heads up. Whether they are on a breakaway or simply open to take a shot, they have their eyes on the prize: the net. Sometimes getting your head up to look will take too much time, so often it is sufficient to take a quick glance or even use your peripheral vision to scan where the goalie is in the net. Although this seems so obvious, very few players do it. When players find themselves in the process of taking a shot, often times they get too excited and stop thinking; consequently, players often wind up and hit the ball aimlessly and as hard as they can hoping to beat the goalie. Watch here as one of the most clinical goal scorers of all time, Croatian legend Davor Suker, scores a goal in the semi-final of the 1998 World Cup against France that nearly took them to the World Cup final. Observer how calm he remains even though the ball is crossed into him and the goalie is very quickly approaching him:

Right before your shot, take a look; where the goalie is standing might change where you wanted to shoot. For all you know, the goalie can be completely out of position and all that is involved is a short pass into the net.

Characteristic #2: Clinical goal scorers know goalies weak points

There are places you can shoot that will trouble any goalie. When you see clinical goal scorers on a breakaway, more often than not you will see them simply pass the ball by the left or right side of a goalie – almost like a pass into the net. Why do they do that? Why don’t they blast it past the goalie or beat him with a move? Simply, in order for a goalie to get down from an upright position and dive to save the ball takes immense time. Goalies cannot get down quick enough to stop this type of shot. Especially when on a breakaway, it is important not to shoot too early but not to shoot too late. The best time to slot it past the goalie is when the goalie is running towards to cut the angle down. While he is running, pick your side and put it in. The reason for this is when a goalie is running, he will require even more time to get set, gain his balance and then dive.

Characteristic #3: Clinical goal scorers never panic

Even when the ball gets away from you and you will not be able to shot it past the goalie because he is sliding, there are other options. You can either chip it over the goalie or even dribble past the goalie. The important thing to note is that when you remain calm and observe the situation as a whole (where you are, where the goalie is and where the net is) is suddenly becomes easier to beat a goalie and score a goal.

Just to show you that clinical goal scorers are not a myth, watch again as Davor Suker beats another goalie under almost the same circumstances. This occurred in the very last seconds of the game. He keeps his head up, knows where the goalies weak point is and never panics. Clinical goal scorers just know how to beat a goalie – plain and simple.


1. Always keep your head up and take a look to see where the goalie is and what your options are.
2. Learn the goalies weak points and practice shooting into those areas
3. Never panic and always remain calm – quickly assess the different situations you are presented with and learn to play with the cards you are dealt

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