Which Angles Are Better for Soccer Scoring?

kid kicking a soccer ball

When you get in close to goal, knowing the best angles for scoring is crucial. You need to make a quick decision as to whether your position is better for shooting or passing off. Although you always want to play the best angles, occasionally you can get away with what looks impossible. Many a World Cup player -- such as Japan's Karina Maruyama, Brazil’s Roberto Carlos and Landon Donovan of the U.S. -- have gotten away with scoring from a tough angle on the big stage of international competition.

Sweet Spot

The best angles for scoring are from straight in front of the goal or just very slightly to the side. Imagine dotted lines extending out onto the field from the goalposts and flaring enough to intersect with where the penalty circle intersects with the straight line at the top of the 18-yard box. In a diagram in his book “Soccer: Steps to Success,” coach Joseph Luxbacher labels this sweet spot “the most dangerous shooting zone.” This central area is where shots are most likely to find the back of the net.

Next Best

Envision a second dotted line extending from the goalposts and intersecting with the corners of penalty box. Luxbacher observes that shots from this area can achieve moderate scoring success. Coach Alan Hargreaves adds in his book “Skills and Strategies for Coaching Soccer” that the reason shots from narrower angles are less successful is that the goalkeeper standing in the way creates a much smaller target area of open net compared to shots from the midline of the pitch.

Lowest Odds

Subtracting the zones of good and moderate shooting success leaves an area that offers poor shooting angles. This zone forms a triangle bound by the touchline -- as a soccer sideline is called -- the end line, and an imagined diagonal line from the goalpost to the penalty box corner, extended out to the sideline. Shots taken from this flank area, with its narrow shooting angle “will rarely beat a competent goalkeeper,” Luxbacher writes.


Present the facts about the best shooting angles to your players, Hargreaves recommends. Explain that the field in the attacking third contains a shooting zone and a passing zone. They can envision a shooting zone, in front of the goal and slightly to the side, and a passing zone, where they look to feed the ball to a more centrally-located teammate. German sportswriter Horst Wein in his book “Developing Game Intelligence in Soccer” describes shot success rates from 14 to 38 percent in the shooting zone, diminishing to 2 percent in the far corners. You can even test these results yourself, systematically measuring successful shots on goal for your own curiosity or as a science fair project.