A vital aspect to shooting and making the finish is timing. Some might say a shot is just another pass into the back of the net. While this is true, the timing of this pass, or as we prefer to call it, the shot, is vital. At the Players Academy of Soccer Skills, we teach our own philosophy of "shooting on the stride." This philosophy comes from years of coaching players to finish their shot. The shot is the beginning of the story, with the middle being the selection of aiming point and position of the defender, whether that is a field player or a goalkeeper. Finally, the end is where the goalkeeper has to pick the ball from the back of the net. This philosophy is not just built from the striker, but also the goalkeeper. We are lucky enough to have some of the highest qualified goalkeeping coaches in the state and nation, so we use their knowledge on the difficulties of stopping the shot and making the save, and use these to our striking advantage, Hence, we created "Shooting On The Stride" from both sides of the ball.
Watch the modern game and you will see many goals scored by a striker shooting between the legs of the defender in almost a "megging" shot. To watch it, one might think that it was a lucky shot, but in reality it was well-practiced by shooting on the stride.
Watch the average attacking player shoot when under pressure by a defender. He will will push the ball to the side, leaving the plant foot stationary and initiating the action the striking foot ("pulling the trigger"). This method can be very successful if the attacker is quick and the defender slow. It also given a big visual clue to the goalkeeper that a shot is about to be taken. By shooting on the stride we believe we can deceive the defender and the goalkeeper into thinking we are going around the defender or creating more shooting space than is necessary.
This is our teaching scenario: Imagine the attacker is one on one with the defender. Instead if pushing the ball a pace to the side of the defender to shoot, we teach pushing it about a pace and a half. By doing this, the goalkeeper thinks that we are attempting to get the ball past the defender and the goalkeeper has time to change his set position. The defender thinks he can counter the attacker's mistake of a "heavy touch" and overstride across to reach the ball, leaving him off-balance. Unknown to either defender, this has all been planned.
Our method when teaching shooting on the stride is this: Once the ball has been pushed to the side of the defender, the attacker has to take a half-step to the ball side and slightly forward with his plant foot. It is natural to be angled away from the target when doing this. For example, if we are shooting with the right foot, our plant foot (left foot) naturally points to 2 o'clock and away to the outside of the near post. As we know, where the plant foot points, the ball follows. The technical point comes in not only correcting this, but "over-correcting." We may want to point it at 11 o'clock; in reality we would prefer more toward 10 o'clock. I'll explain why later.
While all this is happening, the ball is still moving away from the striker. Plant foot placed, the striker now has to reach for the ball by taking a lunging stride and preparing to "pull the trigger." Remember, the attacker is already half a pace nearer to the ball than the defender, meaning that for the defender to match the attacker's stride he really has to step into it, leaving his legs wide open. If the timing is correct in one of two methods, he either shoots through the defender's legs or outside of the defender's reaching stride. Either way, the attacker is disguising the shot to the goalkeeper by using the defender's body as a visual shield. Remember about the plant foot being at 10 o'clock rather than 11 o'clock? Because of the over-correction, the attacker strikes the ball across its face, creating a swerving shot and pulling the ball further away from the goalkeeper's hands.
All this is very good, but the defender can easily read this. Say we are shooting with our right foot--the defender reads the shot and over-reaches out to toe-tap it away. The attacker, in the middle of his half step for his plant foot, cuts it back inside with his right foot using something as simple as an inside cut or rollover. The defender is unbalanced and over-committed, the goalkeeper has anticipated rather than reacted. The striker now has the ball on his left foot for an easy placement passing the ball into the back of the net.