Growing up playing soccer there is so much to learn. Things like what part of the field are most goals scored is one of the most important. Kids from all over the world are learning the game different ways. Some learn on the streets, some learn from watching it on TV and others learn from a coach. I can remember learning when and where most goals are scored from my college coach at West Texas A&M University. This helped me not only in college, but also as a professional player. Knowing where most goals are scored on the pitch will help you as a defender and an attacker player.
What part of the field are most goals scored?
Between the 6 yard box and the PK [penalty kick] spot. The PK spot is 12 yards from the goal, and then the 6 yard box is like it sounds, 6 yards from the goal line. So between 6 and 12 yards out, but not only in the middle. There are also many goals scored from the corner of the 6 yard box or a little further out. So when you practice finishing drills, use your imagination and think of all the different parts of this area you will score from. Try to practice in every part of the 18 yard box, so you are better prepared. Next time you watch a pro game on TV, I bet you notice that most goals are scored in this area. Also notice when most goals are scored, and make sure you teach your teammates all of this.
For ages 9-11, more goals are scored from a little farther away, primarily because of goalie lack of height. The higher the level of play, the closer up the goals are scored. The reason is because the higher level [pro’s and college] they are so good at being patient to send in a good cross. The big difference from college to pro is how good and patient the pros are at finding the gaps/windows between the defenders to pass and score. The college level, 90% are still in panic mode around the 18 yard box.
Where to cross the ball
This is important to know because it determines from where you should practice crossing and finishing. Between the 6 and penalty area, but it also depends on the situation. Don’t think that every ball needs to be crossed between the 6 and pk spot. The main question today is “what part of the field are most goals scored?” If most goals are scored in this area, this gives you the answer on where to cross the ball. Sometimes the ball needs to be crossed outside of this area, depending on if there is a ton of space in front. Example: If the ball is in the middle third of the field and the other team is pushed up high, this leaves a lot of space between the defender and goalie. Or counter attacks would be a good time to cross the ball outside the 18 yard box.
Is crossing in the air better or on the ground?
This depends on if there is a crowd of players, timing and if you can fit the ball between defenders or not. Many youth players think of a cross in the air, but if you watch the pros you’ll see a ton crossed on the ground. Many of my new students ask if they should cross it on the ground or in the air. It’s usually easier to finish when the ball comes at you on the ground, which is why you see high level teams doing this more. Most of this comes with education and experience, so keep these thoughts in your head and the more you practice the better you get. The goalie has such a hard time saving anything 6 yards out, giving you a good chance to score.
Crossing the ball from distance
Usually crossing the ball from distance allows the GK to come out and win it. In these situations try to cross the ball further out closer to the pk spot or 18. This way it doesn’t allow or give the goalie confidence to come out for the ball. Yes, many goals are scored at the 6 yard box, but if you cross the ball in that area slow the goalkeeper will get it being so close to them. When you are crossing the ball from further out, make sure you really get some power behind it. If you think the goalie is aggressive than maybe you cross it further out near the 18.
One thing you will see different from a high school player, compared to a college or pro is how high the ball is lifted. You don’t want to hit it so high, because this allows the goalkeeper time to come win the ball. You do need to get the ball in the air in these situations, but try to hit it with power vs. making it stay in the air forever.
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Panic mode in the penalty area
At almost every youth level all the way to college, you see players panic in the penalty area. The reason is because they know there is opportunity to get a goal. They also are not used to having the ball in this area, so they are uncomfortable. Things you can do to improve is putting yourself in this situation, during your own training time. Think about positive thoughts of you getting the ball and scoring so many different types of goals. Also practice these same thoughts, like breakaway’s, turning to shoot, finishing crosses and easy tap-ins.
Defenders at the higher levels
As a defender your main job is to defend. Not possession, not dribbling or any of that. I remember going from college to professional soccer. I was in pre-season camp with the then current MLS champs [Kansas City]. During a moment in the game when I won a ball, I started to dribble up like I did in college. I remember as I was doing that one of the players on my team said something like “Give me the ball and stay back, you already did your job.” At that moment I realized that I have to change how I have played my whole life.
Defend the full 90 minutes
Please don’t forget where most goals are scored, and don’t let anything by from start to finish. Don’t play good 88 minutes and then the last few minutes let something in. Just the other day I was watching a high school game, as one of my long time friends kids was playing in the same town I live. I used to train the kid, so I wanted to show support. The team lost the game, but played well. They made 1 mistake in the back, where most goals are scored and it cost them. So all the good stuff that defender did, doesn’t matter because he made a mistake in the wrong part of the field.