10 Types of Finishes the Best Strikers Have Mastered
To the uninitiated shooting, may seem rather simple: kick a ball towards the goal. In reality, there is far more to it than just that. The best strikers have a range of finishes in their repertoire, each used for very specific occasions.
Top 10 Types of Finishes
The following list will cover some broad types of finishes, detailing when and why you may choose to opt for them.
1. Laces Shot
This is likely the first type of shot that comes to mind. As the name suggests, a laces shot uses the ‘laces’ of a boot to strike the ball and can generate a lot of power whilst maintaining a fair level of accuracy. In addition, it can be used from a variety of distances but is perhaps most effective from the edge of the area.
Another fairly common type of finish is the side-foot. Again, as the name suggests, this shot involves using the side of your foot, specifically in the instep.
Whilst it is possible to generate a powerful side-footed strike (see David Luiz), these types of shots tend to sacrifice power for accuracy. As such, they’re best used from close-range in order to stand the best chance of beating a keeper.
David Luiz Free kick 2014 World Cup Brazil vs Colombia
3. Toe Poke
Moving on to a less common type of finish, toe pokes are not to be confused with toe punts. Toe pokes can be a very effective finish when stretching for the ball inside the area. They rely on speed to catch a goalkeeper off-guard. Unlike the toe punt (a wild toe-first swing at the ball), the toe poke is a measured finish that is best used when you have little time or space.
4. Curved Shot
Curved shots can be achieved with a few different techniques but are most commonly a mixture of a side-foot and a laces shot. These are particularly useful from distance or when using a defender to blindsight the goalkeeper. Curved shots don’t have to be powerful (although they can be), instead they can be quite tame as long as they are well-placed.
5. Volleys and Half-Volley
Both volleys and half-volleys can take many different forms – the key is that the ball is not on the ground when struck. Volleys are hit first-time without the ball bouncing, whilst half-volleys bounce first and usually hit as the ball rises.
Timing is absolutely vital with these types of finishes, and the slightest delay can send the ball flying into row Z. Depending on your distance from goal, volleys can be hit with laces or can be cushioned with your instep. Aiming volleys into the ground adds another level of difficulty for goalkeepers.
6. Outside Foot
Swinging the outside of your foot at the ball may not feel entirely natural but in certain situations it can be very effective. Outside foot shots can catch the opposition by surprise and are sometimes preferable to swinging a weak foot towards the ball. There is also the added bonus of looking very cool when they come off (see Quaresma).
7. Chipped shot
The opportunity to execute a chipped shot doesn’t come around nearly as often as some of our previously mentioned finishes. Nevertheless, when a chipped shot is on, it can be devastating.
The main component of a chipped shot is lifting it off the ground with a short stabbing motion at the base of the ball. The finish is usually straight and drops into the goal without much pace. Whenever the goalkeeper is off their line, a chipped shot is possible. The further off their line, the more likely it will be to come off.
Headers could have their own article in truth, but we’ll do our best to summarise them concisely. Although it’s possible to score a header from outside the box, it’s not common.
The type of header you opt for will likely depend on the type of cross:
- Looped crosses without much pace will need to be attacked with a powerful jumping header
- Whipped crosses can be directed towards goal with a glazing header
- Goalmouth scrambles where the goalkeeper may be out of position may call for a looped header
Everyone loves a backheel but as fun as they may be, they can’t be forced. Backheels are rarely the right call and should only be used in certain situations.
If you have your back to goal in the box and need to react quickly, swinging your heel towards the ball may catch everyone out. Alternatively, flicking the ball with your heel in a crowded area could be enough to send the ball goalwards.
10. Acrobatic Finishes
If you’re looking to score a ‘goal of the season’ contender, look no further. Acrobatic finishes are special for a number of reasons:
- Difficult to execute
- The opportunity rarely presents itself
- Requires a lot of technique
However, if the perfect situation arises where the ball sits up perfectly, a bicycle kick, scorpion kick, or scissor kick can be unstoppable.
The Bottom Line
Varying your finishes and having a range of shots you can pull off will make you a far better striker.
FAQs About Finishing
Are all strikers exactly the same?
Definitely not. There may not be a position with as much variation as a striker. Forwards come in all shapes and sizes and have many different strengths.
How to improve finishing in football?
The above article has plenty of useful info detailing when and why to use certain types of shots.
What shooting drills can I practice?
For a detailed list of 15 great shooting drills, click here.