Shooting is different from passing, in the sense that you want to give the ball a one-way ticket for a direct line towards the goal. You don't expect any teammate to touch it, and you don't want the goalkeeper or any defender to block or deflect it. Therefore, either enormously fast or greatly curved shots are preferred (or a combination, if you're getting really excited). Usually, goals are scored from inside the box or just outside it. However, it is perfectly possible to score from more distance, but then you'll need to be able to shoot very fast with lots of accuracy, and even some curve if you want to show off.
If you have the time, your best bet will usually be to do a bending shot (curving/spinning). This requires a bit of a setup, and isn't as fast as other shots, but it can curl the ball around the goalkeeper (and other obstacles) into the goal. Also, it makes it harder for the keeper to save, because he has to predict the curve of the ball.
However, if you have a straight shot at goal, the best option would be a lace shot (driven/instep). This is the fastest shot available, and can be shot in a perfectly straight line, and therefore be struck with great accuracy. In professional soccer though, most people also give the ball a nice swerving curve with this shot, which makes it seem like it's going into one corner, but it actually goes towards the other.
And last but not least, there's the chip shot. This is used when the goalkeeper (and any last defenders) are a good distance away from goal and about halfway between you and the goal. This shot then simply lifts the ball over them, out of their reach, and makes it come down to get under the crossbar and score a goal for your team.
Also, it's better to shoot wide than high. If the ball is too high, the ball will simply fly over the goal. If it's wide, there's a good chance the ball is deflected, pushed away by the keeper for a corner or that a teammate will pick the ball up. Furthermore, if you want to hit the upper ninety with your shot, it's better to keep the shot a bit lower and make it go in just below that sweet spot, than to just blast away and shoot the ball over the crossbar 90% of the time, with no chance of ever scoring.
The best spots to strike your ball home to therefore, are actually the lower corners. It's hard for a goalkeeper to dive far when he has to do it on the ground, and there's more chance of the ball going into the net. After that, the most goals are scored by shooting the ball through the keeper's legs, or just past him. It's hard for a goalkeeper to reach to a ball that's very close to him (but not right at him), especially when he can't really see it coming. And only after that, are most goals scored by shooting it into the upper corners.
In the passing section we already discussed the cross. The cross is not much different from it, only in the fact that the bending shot usually gets more curve and speed. This is possible, because the shot shouldn't get much height, so the power of the kick goes into the other factors. Therefore, all you have to change is:
- Place your standing foot less behind the ball, and more next to it. You can also place it before it if you want a ball on the ground, but that can quickly result in inability to freely swing your leg.
- Try to get a bit more on your laces: lean into the ball/forward a bit.
- And try some more curve: make your kicking foot go back to 'toes-forward mode' as quick as possible, but retain proper technique ( = the right touch). When done correctly, this adds more spin to the ball, but also gets the ball more onto the laces and moving forward, instead of going up.
- And if you've got that under control, you can try if you can put your momentum into the shot and make your leg swing so much inwards (in the follow through) that your whole body spins around with it.
Lace shot (and outside)
This shot is all about enormous power, but I recommend you first get the technique down really well, because even an only slightly misplaced touch can result in the ball flying all over the place with this shot. I'll split the shot into two seperate forms: straight ones, and curving ones struck with the outside of the foot. So pay attention now:
- A straight run up, though an angle is perfectly possible.
- Place your standing foot right beside the ball, or even more forwards if you want to keep the ball low.
- Now swing your leg back, and while you swing forwards, keep your toes pointed down and lock your ankle for as long as you can. Hit the ball with your laces, and make sure you make full contact (and don't just poke it with the toes).
- Then follow through, still with toes pointing downwards, and then end this fluent motion with landing on your kicking foot.
- This should send the ball straight forward with enormous speed, and with some height (depending on how you place your standing foot, how much you lean forward/backward and how long you keep your toes down).
- At first, many people hit the ball too much on the left or right side of the foot. This isn't useful at all - make sure you hit the ball with the center of your foot (or a bit to to the left of that if that's too difficult).
- Also, most people are afraid of injuring their foot (or mostly their toes) when doing this shot. This only increases bad shooting habits, like straining the leg, holding back, hitting it incorrectly - so don't be afraid. However, these fears are not totally unfounded - there's a chance your toes collide with the ground if you don't watch out. So, first practice shooting with minimum speed but with proper technique. Only after that go wild and make that ball fly.
Outside curving shot
This shot basically works the same, but with a few crucial differences:
- The run up is at an angle. Also, your standing foot will not really be pointing at the target, but a bit away from it (to allow room for the other leg to swing inwards).
- Then, it's a common misconception that you must hit the ball with the outside of the foot to make it curve that way. No, you must hit the outside of the ball with all of your laces (try to get as much contact as you can, but on the outside of the ball).
- So basically, you're swinging your foot inwards and hitting the outside of the ball with your laces, steering it into the other direction (almost perpendicular to your standing foot).
- Success with this type of shot relies on hitting the outside of the ball with as much as you can, without making it into a straight shot (there's a fine line there). And on following through (in the same direction as your standing foot is pointing) very well.
- Also, some people rotate their foot a bit towards the ball in the follow through, and 'scoop' it a bit and make it more into an outside foot lob shot. That's perfectly possible, but is harder to do than the standard method.
The chip shot is actually used 80% of the time in passing, and less in shooting. But, because there is a variant that is more useful for shooting than passing, I discuss both methods here in the shooting section. As stated earlier, the chip shot makes a ball go high into the air, and come back down quickly due to the backspin.
Variant 1 - Used most for passing
- A slightly angled run up is useful.
- Place your standing foot a bit before the ball, so that you lean back when shooting.
- Then swing your kicking leg at it, and hit it with the inside of your foot, with the part of your toes. The more you can hit it with your 'big toe', while still remaining decent contact, the higher it will go.
- Then, instead of following through, you can just stop the motion after you've hit the ball. So basically with this shot, you drive your foot into the piece of grass right underneath the ball, and using the slope of the shoe at the contact part it will fly up into the air with a lot of backspin.
- The ball should go straight into the direction your standing foot is pointing. If it doesn't, your kicking foot is either angled inwards too much, or you hit it too much with other parts of the foot. If the ball doesn't get medium height when applying mediocre power, you're again hitting it with the wrong part of the foot or have positioned your standing foot too much ahead of the ball.
Variant 2 - Used most for shooting (chipping over the keeper, hard-to-get bouncy balls)
- A straight run up.
- Then you place your standing foot ahead of the ball, but make sure you don't start leaning forward with this shot.
- Now, swing your kicking leg at it, and you actually want to hit the ball with the same part of your foot (inside toes), but do this while the ball is 'behind' you.
- Then, you have an awful lot of space to follow through, as you've already struck the ball early in your swing. Use this, as it creates lots of backspin on the ball (and not necessarily height) when done correctly.
- Because of the downward movement of the foot at the moment you hit the ball, you don't really send the ball into the air, but force it to pop forward with some height. Therefore, you can't really get this ball very far, but it can go over the keeper, and it has that nasty bounce that can make it hard to defend against (and with times, can make it bounce over a defender's foot).