Finishing Around The Box

  • Author: Ian Knapp
  • Age Group: U7 to U17+
  • Time: 20 - 30 minutes

This practice introduces different types of finishing - from crosses, a set ball played back to a player on the edge of the box, a strike at the end of an individual dribble and rebound shots from a goalkeeper save. This variety is more realistic to what your players might face in a match and helps your players deal with the different scenarios they’re likely to face in and around the penalty area.

  • Split the pitch into 2 halves. Play a totally separate game in each half.
  • In one half (right hand side, below) we have 2 servers, 2 strikers and a goalkeeper.
  • In the other half (left hand side, below) we have 2 pairs of strikers, a goalkeeper, 2 poles or mannequins to represent defenders and a line of cones that represent the line where the initial shot must be taken before.
  • Lots of balls with each server on the right side and in the middle of the pitch for the left side to use.


Right Hand Side:

  • On the right hand side we have 2 servers (pink server 1 and pink server 2) providing different types of set up for the strikers.
  • The two strikers (white 1 and 2) go one by one.
  • The first ball played in is a “lay back” from server 1. The striker can hit it first time or take one touch and then hit it. For younger or less confident players, perhaps allow more touches.
  • As that shot is being taken, server 2 drives forward and whips a cross in for the striker to finish, preferably with a first time finish. Coach can insist on ground based or aerial crosses to force working on something particular (remember, heading limited or not allowed at all for certain age groups).
  • Striker 1 then collects the stray footballs and striker 2 has their turn. Repeat for a while and then switch the 2 servers with the 2 strikers so everybody gets a turn.
  • Count up score with a certain number of balls or within a certain time frame.

Left Hand Side:

  • On the left hand side the strikers play as pairs.
  • The first pair pick a ball up in the middle of the pitch and one player dribbles round the outside of one of the mannequins / poles and gets a shot away from an angle BEFORE they reach the line of cones.
  • The other striker’s job is to follow in for any rebounds from the goalkeeper or woodwork. Rebounds can be scored from close range, beyond the line of cones.
  • Once this pair has finished their turn, they collect the ball and head back to start again whilst the other pair go.
  • Ensure the players rotate between roles so the “shooter” and the second striker going for the rebounds switch round on each turn.
  • Count up score with a certain number of balls or within a certain time frame.

  • After 5 - 10 minutes, switch the players in each half of the pitch, so they all get a chance to try both activities.
  • If required, switch the 2 goalkeepers with one of the pairs so they also get a chance to try the activity.
  • At the end, who scored the most goals?

Progressions & Alternatives:
  • If you have more players, add in another server or create an extra pair on the left hand side.
  • Can add in a “real” defender on the left hand side for more advanced players and allow the strike pair to pass to each other to beat the defender.
  • Introduce offside on the left hand side for older players where that’s relevant, so the second striker has to hold their run until the shot has been taken by striker 1.
  • Introduce points for shots on target (1), goals (2), first time finishes (3).
  • This activity then moves perfectly into a match - just remove the mannequins and cones and you’re good to go.

Coaching Points (FA's 4 Corners):
  • Early shot when keeper is unbalanced.
  • Body shape when shooting (don’t lean back)
  • First touch to take the ball where you want it.
  • Look up and pick your spot for your shot (where is the GK? Shot placement). Can you go right into the corners?
  • Shot type - power / placed / lobbed / chipped / curled / outside of boot / inside of boot / laces. Depends on position in front of goal and how you’re receiving the ball.
  • Weight and accuracy of passing / crossing from servers.
  • Body shape when receiving the pass.
  • Follow in shots in case the goalkeeper spills the ball.
  • Movement of striker to “lose your man” - relevant on the right hand side. Even though there is no defender, can you imagine their is and show that movement? Change direction of run to go to either near or far post for the cross etc.
  • On the right hand side, get set for the second finish as soon as the first shot has been taken.
  • Communication from the servers or between the pair on the left hand side.
  • Decision making - type of shot, when to shoot.
  • Confidence to try again if a shot is missed or a poor touch is taken.
  • Confidence to try things - different types of finish.
  • Competitiveness - how does the competition against the other pairs motivate or distract players? Avoid “rushing” things but play with pace still.
  • Agility and body shape when receiving the ball and getting into shooting positions.
  • Power in shot to beat goalkeeper.
  • Balance when receiving the ball.
  • Speed and pace to get to the ball quickly. Effort levels with regard to that.
  • Working as a team between you to create chances.
  • Encouraging others and not being negative
  • Communication
  • Have fun!