When I was a youth player a recurring theme from my coaches was to aim for the far corner when a shot opportunity arose. So as a player who typically played on the right side of the field, most of my shots looked something like this:
As I grew older I came to suspect that aiming for the far corner was really just a coaching ploy to prevent the player from thinking too much about picking out their shot location. However, it turns out that there is quite a significant difference in shot results depending on which side the shooter picks out. By analyzing more than 200,000 shots (throwing out the ones blocked by defenders or goalkeepers) from European league play the following near and far corner shot results were produced:
Shot Results When Shooting At The Near or Far Goal Post
|Aiming Near Corner – Goal %||Aiming Far Corner – Goal %|
So what causes this disparity in results? I suspect the main reason has do with the preceding play’s momentum. As the ball swings out towards the wing, there is a subtle shift of the goal keeper towards the play. This means when the shot comes back across the goal the goalkeeper is initially moving in the wrong direction like this:
This suggests that there are opportunities for goal keepers to improve their results by not overshifting towards the play. It also suggests that young players should listen to their coaches.