At first glance, this looks simple. And, if you work with this age group, probably quite familiar. But, take the time to review this goal, and you'll start to spot loads of skilful elements.
The first thing to note is that the player has a good level of ball mastery. At no point is the ball out of his control. He stays balanced, even when he’s bumped from behind at the start of the clip. The fact the player is comfortable on the ball allows him to show good movement skills, like changing speed, direction and manoeuvring past the defender.
This ability also helps him to scan the pitch. After riding out the attempted challenge, the young player is able to take his focus off the ball quickly to see what’s ahead of him and what the defender’s up to. In this moment, he plots his best course of action – to chop the ball to his left to get past his opponent. A good individual tactic with good technique. He also spots the goalkeeper’s position and notices the ideal place to calmly slot the ball into the goal.
This is a good example of how ball mastery enables players to take in more information and be more aware of what’s going on.
Finally, the finish. After showing good balance, coordination and dribbling skills to get into the position to shoot, the player uses his left foot to score. This demonstrates another skilful element: the ability to operate with both feet.
GOAL TWO: SECONDARY SCHOOL PHASE, FUTSAL
There are three players to focus on here. They all show elements of skill and combine to create the goal.
Let’s start with the number seven. After having a shot blocked, she immediately wins the ball back. That’s a positive mindset. She then uses good technique to get the ball under control, utilising the sole of her foot – a classic futsal skill. But the main thing to highlight is the use of deception. She stays on the ball long enough to entice the defender to press. Then, she shows quick feet in a tight area and plays the pass to her teammate, who’s now in loads of space.
Deception is a theme with this goal: the number six does this as well. After getting into a good position out wide, her first touch allows her to cut inside. But instead of firing the ball across the area, she waits. The defender isn’t expecting this, so prepares to block at the near post. The number six then makes a little stutter-like movement on the ball, which buys more time and space to pick out the right pass. Putting it on a plate for the forward in the box.
Now, play the clip again but watch the goalscorer – the number four. While she only touches the ball once, it’s the crucial move. And that’s down to her perception and positioning skills. At the start, she’s constantly on her toes, watching the ball and altering her positioning dependant on where it is. But, as the ball goes wide, she completely loses her marker and picks up a position in plenty of space. She’s now an option. She hovers around the edge of the area, holding her position, before stepping back slightly to be in the right place at the right time to score. A great show of awareness.
GOAL THREE: ASTON VILLA U18 V WEST BROM U18
This clip is all about the awareness and technical ability of Aston Villa’s Louie Barry.
Turn your attention to the actions he takes outside of the box when Villa win the ball back.
Barry has just three touches.
1. He controls the ball with the inside of his foot.
2. He uses the outside of his foot to get the ball out of his feet and away from the nearest defender.
3. He curls an effort over the West Brom defence and into the far corner.
It's brilliant technique – and it showcases Barry's excellent technical ability. But, just like in the grassroots examples, Barry also demonstrates great perception skills. After all, this goal isn’t possible without them.
To score from here, he needs to establish the goalkeeper's position. This is most likely done through a quick glance after his first touch. Then, as he spots the keeper is stood closer to the near post, he adjusts his position accordingly – setting himself up to bend an effort towards goal.
GOAL FOUR: ARSENAL WOMEN V MANCHESTER CITY WOMEN
This shows Vivianne Miedema doing what fans across the world are so used to seeing from her: finishing clinically. She’s already the top scorer for the Netherlands and often hits the back of the net for Arsenal, too.
In this example, she bursts into life quickly, and the ball is soon in the bottom corner. One look. One touch. One clinical finish. Her scanning and positioning skills are key to this.
When Lucy Bronze receives the ball, Miedema immediately looks over her shoulder to check where Steph Houghton is – as the Manchester City captain is a potential passing option. Aware that Houghton has dropped off, Miedema now knows she has a pocket of space to position herself in.
While a mistake leads to her getting the ball, she’s in exactly the right position to react when it drops into her space. And with Houghton inside her 18-yard box, Miedema can easily intercept.
The Arsenal forward, with a picture in her mind of what she wants to do, takes one touch with her left foot to cut inside. This takes it away from the defender and sets her up for a clear shot at goal. With City’s goalkeeper closer to the near post, the ideal finish in this situation is for a right-footed shot to the keeper’s left. Miedema spots this and executes it well – arrowing the ball into the bottom corner.
GOAL FIVE: ENGLAND V SAN MARINO
Our final clip to analyse is James Ward-Prowse's first senior international goal. And it’s down to his excellent timing skills, as much as his calm finish.
At the start of the video, Ward-Prowse is nowhere near the ball. But as soon as he notices the trigger, he springs into action. That trigger is Raheem Sterling laying the ball off to Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell getting beyond his marker.
When Mount slides the ball through to Chilwell, Ward-Prowse, with his eye still on the ball, changes the speed and direction of his run. He knows exactly where the space is.
Then, the pull-back cross from the England left-back is smooth and accurate, leaving Ward-Prowse to simply steer the ball goalwards.
This clip demonstrates his timing skills perfectly. From the moment he starts his run, to when he connects with the ball, Ward-Prowse never breaks his stride. This is all down to his connection and understanding with his teammates. This comes from years of playing but using small-sided games can help players of any age develop connections and interactions – particularly between the passer and receiver.
Looking back at the finish, it actually shows similarities to the first grassroots clip. Ward-Prowse is well balanced, uses clever movement and makes good contact with the side of his foot to calmly guide the ball into the corner.
Simple, but effective.
While it’s easy to see the skill behind a net busting long-range strike, that doesn’t mean all finishes have to be like that to be skilful. When you really notice what’s happened to make the goal possible, players of all ages are capable of scoring skilfully – even if it is a simple close-range finish.
So, with this new mindset, try to spot skilful play in your next training session or match. You might find there are a lot of moments to praise.