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How to be a technical finisher

Welcome to the FineSoccer Kids Newsletter.  Today's topic deals with being a technical finisher.

There are different types of finishers in a game of soccer.

There are the workers (in women's soccer, this would be someone like Abby Wamback or in men's soccer Ruud Van Nistelrooy) who keep working and working until finally they put so much pressure on an opponent that an opportunity is created that no one else sees or can create.  This requires a tremendous work rate, willingness to put your body into positions that others wont and overall strength, course and dedication.

There are the "lucky" ones who seem to find themselves in the right place at the right time to score the big goals (I don't actually consider these types to be lucky because they knew where to be and when to be there and that isn't luck).  An example from many years ago would be Gerd Muller from the old West Germany.  He didn't appear to have what it took to be a soccer player but he had the uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time which allowed him to be one of the best scorers of all time.

There are the artful ones.  These are the players who bend balls over walls, around walls, under walls or dribble through 3 players to score the beautiful goal.  Players who come to mind would be Marta, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi.  Every time these types of players get the ball people take notice to see what might happen next.

The fourth type of finisher is the technical finisher.  These are the player who strike the ball cleanly almost every time and are so fundamentally strong in their striking, that they put things on goal when others don't even have the ability to strike the ball in that situation.  Players who come to mind would include Robin Van Persie, Dimitar Bertatov, Steven Gerrard and Rafael Van Der Vaart.

Anyone, if they really want to, can be a worker finisher.  The question is, are you willing to put in the hard work.  Many people would say they are willing to but they don't realize, it takes more than working during the game.  In order to work that hard during the game, this type of player must be in great shape, be willing to try to run down a ball that others think can't be won and be willing to suffer the consequences of the physical abuse these players go through on a daily basis.

The lucky ones are usually students of the game who work a lot harder than many people give them credit for.  They score the easy goal off of a rebound because while others stopped because they thought the shot was going to be held, they recognized the chance of the rebound and made the effort to be in position.  While the worker is the one pressuring the ball, the lucky one frequently works just as hard but in a less noticeable way.

The artful ones are the hardest to become.  They combine skill, athleticism, tactical understanding and much more and then add the 'it" factor. I'm not sure anyone knows why Marta seems to see the game differently than other female players, or Messi sees a shot or pass that others would never even consider.  While I don't want to downplay their effort and what it took to develop the incredible skills they have, I do believe they have something that either you have or you don't.

The technical finisher to me is the most frustrating because there could be, and should be, more of these players.  They all have athleticism, but then again so does everyone at that level.  They have work rate, but not necessarily more than others.  They have confidence to strike the ball but much of that comes with their technical ability.  The thing they have, above most of their peers, is pure technical proficiency.  I can't tell you how they developed that ability but I can tell you, if you want to become a better technical finisher, it simply comes down to technique and repetition.

Start by striking a stationary ball against the wall.  Concentrate on planting your foot in the same spot every time.  Make contact on the same part of the ball every time.  Follow through consistently and keep doing it the same way (the correct way) over and over.  It's not a case of hitting 10 balls and saying "that's enough".  It's a matter of hitting hundreds of balls, day after day, concentrating on proper technique.  Make sure you are working on both feet each day.

Next do the same thing with a rolling ball.  Use the same technique but now you have to concentrate more on the plant foot to compensate for the rolling of the ball.  Again, you want to consistently use the same technique each time.  This is to be done day after day after day.

Next have balls played in from different angles and different trajectories.  In a game the ball doesn't come to you the same way over and over so it shouldn't in your training either.

The key here is to take the skill of striking the ball and turning it into a habit of striking it the same way over and over.  If you do this enough times in training, when the opportunity arises in a game, you will strike the ball in this same consistent manner.

It's important to realize you don't need to be pigeon holed into one of these categories.  For example, Steven Gerrard has an extremely high work rate and is also a technical finisher.

While you don't have to be just one of these categories, the reality is, if you aren't any of them (or at least part of them) you wont score many goals.

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