Three Tips for Teaching Players to Finish

By Adrian Parrish

Have you ever been in a situation where you control the whole game, out-shoot your opponents and end up losing by one goal? Opportunities to score may have been handed to your team for easy goals when the keeper spilled the ball but your team failed to capitalize on this because they never followed up their shots.

As coach’s we conduct shooting session’s focusing on the technique, but how often do we focus on the tactical and psychological part of finishing? Many times our players believe the harder they hit the ball the better the chance they have of scoring, when a majority of goals could be scored by simply slotting the ball in and finishing with finesse.

No matter how good a shooter you are you have to practice finishing not just shooting. There will be games when the opponent’s keeper is just too good or lucky for you to rely only on your shooting skills. Below are some good practice tips that can be used with most shooting activities/games to
improve a player’s ability to finish:

Tip #1: Taking the Opportunity
A striker’s confidence will be high when they are scoring goals, but it will be very low when they are missing the opportunities, this may result in them even refusing to take shots. If they are creating chances we need to keep encouraging this, from there the minimal request I have for them is to make the goalkeeper work, the maximum I can demand of a player is to score.

When conducting finishing and attacking practice sessions, during the warmup have the players play into the keeper, this will help them hit the target, warmup both sets of players and they will be reaching your minimal request. As in every other practice session we then add pressure and make the activity a little more complex, so as well as adding defenders, raise your demands to request that the players score.

Tip #2: Terminology
When I observe coach’s conducting shooting sessions I will often hear them instruct their players to shoot. As long as the player gets the shot off, no matter of the end result, the coach will often be satisfied. If the shot misses the target, a coach will tell the player that they are unlucky. This could make the player believe that the coach is satisfied with any kind of shot. Instead of shouting shoot, encourage the players to finish.

Tip #3: Following up the Rebound
Lazy attackers have a bad tendency of watching their shots when they “know” that the shot is going in. They then miss the opportunity to score when the ball hits the posts or bar or is batted down by the keeper, and either one of the strikers fail to follow in.

Adding special requirements to a practice can help solve this problem. On any shot that an attacker takes, that attacker has three seconds after shooting to enter the goal and touch the net or the goal is disallowed. This ingrains the habit of going to the goal every time they shoot.

Great shots, no matter how pretty, only count once the ball enters the goal. There are no style points in soccer. Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Manchester United and Holland may be one of the world’s best strikers but he scores majority of those goals with toe poke or tap in from inside the six yard box and those goals count the same number as that beautiful 30-yard scorcher that hits the top corner of the net.

Adrian Parrish is the Director of Coach & Player Development for the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association. He is responsible for the Coaching Education Program and the management of the Olympic Development Program. A native of Louth, England, Parish currently possesses a USSF “A” License, UEFA “A” License (Pending), and the US Youth Soccer National Youth License. He can be reached at


Beating Fear of Failure

By John Ellsworth

Fear of failure is one of the many mental obstacles which can impact athletic performance. It is characterized by the following:

An avoidance of risks. (E.g. plays conservatively, tries to protect score, etc.)
A strong concern about what others think about him/her or his or her performance. (E.g. makes assumptions about what others think, mind reading, etc.)
An avoidance of embarrassment (e.g. avoids mistakes by playing “safe”, fear of what will happen, etc.)

Whatever the symptoms may be, fear of failure ultimately causes athletes to hinder, rather than advance, their ability to succeed. While social approval is desired by all people, regardless of their athletic abilities, is should not be the driving force behind how an athlete performs especially in competition.

I challenge you to answer this question:
Do you compete for yourself, or do you compete for the approval of those in your athletic circle (e.g. coach, teammates, parents, audience, etc.)?

As you ponder the answer to the above question consider how you make decisions or what determines your reactions in your sport. Ask yourself: Do I feel that everyone is watching me when it is my turn? Do I fear how others will react if my performance is very good, or very poor? Do I have ideas or thoughts about what others may be thinking about me or my performance? Do I sometimes feel myself stiffen up when I am in a stressful situation in my sport?

If you have answered even one of the above questions with a “yes” then you likely have a strong fear of failure. While fearing failure is normal, you should begin to change your mind set. Instead of fearing what others may think, protecting your score or playing safe, recognize that there is no failure where you are trying to take your performance to the next level.

Give yourself the “right” to make a mistake. Don’t worry about what others may think or try to read their minds. Focus your energy on making the effort to let your brain trust in your body’s ability. Do this and you will establish a new approach to taking action toward improving your performance.

For more information about this article or for information on mental game coaching contact John R. Ellsworth – Mental Game Coach at Protex Sports, LLC.

Soooo close!

That’s what the Rock Creek Mustangs were thinking in their Kansas Mid-East League 8th Grade Basketball League tournament game against the Riley County Falcons. Watch as time expires in the game. You’ll never see an ending decided by this narrow a margin.

Help PHIT and get a $2000 tax break!

If you already have kids playing sports, or if you are a member of a health club, this is a no-brainer. If you are searching for some financial ‘relief’ from the soaring costs of keeping your child busy playing sports, ask Congress to pass the PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) Act – today!

In layman’s terms, the PHIT Act is pending Congressional legislation that would allow consumers to use their pre-tax medical accounts to get reimbursed for physical activity expenses that complement a healthy lifestyle, such as health club dues, sports league registration fees, entry fees for road races, pay-to-play school sports fees, personal trainer costs, and many sport-specific equipment purchases. Translation: Up to $2000.00 off  your personal tax bill for doing what you’re doing anyway if this passes!

It takes less than a minute to send a note to your congressional representatives. Just go to and click on Advocate or click here. There is an easy 1-2-3-step process to send an email to your Members of Congress.  “We have made it easy for anyone to have their voice heard. The PHIT Act is a very important piece of legislation for this country. We can help prevent and reduce health care costs while giving families and Americans an incentive to be more active, fit and healthy,” says Jim Baugh, Founder of PHIT America.

Take care of your fields

Saturday, as I walked past our local school ball fields, I observed baseball coaches throwing soft-toss to their players who were hitting into the school fencing. Not only is this bad for the league-supplied balls, but it is extremely damaging to the fences. Most sections of the chain-link were curled at the bottom from the balls hitting them. This also presents a safety issue as a player running after a foul ball could potentially land on that upturned fence, with disastrous consequences. An inexpensive pop-up net can be purchased to eliminate this issue. They are fast and easy to set up and break down, and store in the trunk of a car. It is important that our coaches treat the fields they are using with respect.

CoachDeck in Dick’s Sporting Goods

Our little decks of cards will be getting a whole new showcase soon! In 63 tier-one Dick’s Sporting Goods stores this spring will be an end cap aimed at youth baseball coaches, (what a great idea). And one of the products offered on the display will be CoachDeck for baseball! Here is our first shipment going out on the truck.

Dicks shipment 0215

Are high-schoolers ready for year-round football?

That’s the question Los Angeles Times reporter Eric Sondheimer asks in yesterday’s column. Many coaches are concerned with the escalation. Here is the article.