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Kicking Accuracy

How should a football coach measure the kicking accuracy of his forwards and strikers? The number of shots on goal? Maybe, but that favours players in positions that shoot more frequently. The number of goals per game? That can be influenced by all sorts of other factors, including the skill of the opposing goalie and the defence in general, conditions of the pitch and (of course) the weather. Ability to strike a specified target? Better, but still relatively insensitive as a measure because it does not factor in the magnitude of error when the target is missed, or even which area of the target is struck.

Measuring accuracy

Frustrated by the limitations of existing methods for assessing kicking accuracy, a vital component of football performance - Finnoff et al. (2002)[2] set out to develop and test a sensitive, reliable and valid means of measuring kicking accuracy that was relatively inexpensive, simple to make and easy to use.

Their endeavours resulted in a plywood target 243.5cm wide and 122cm high, held in an upright position from behind by a wood plank frame. The surface of the plywood was covered with textured white paint; while a black mark measuring 5cm squared (the bulls-eye) was placed at the midpoint of the base of the board. A screw was placed in the middle of the bulls-eye in such a way that a hook at the end of a tape measure could fit over the head of the screw to precisely measure the distance from the bulls-eye to the centre of the mark left where the ball struck the target.

Sheets of white paper covered by carbon paper were placed over the board, such that when the football struck, it left a mark on the underlying white paper. For each new kick, a new sheet of paper-plus-carbon was used.

To test the accuracy of the system, ten-ball marks were created on the target by having a subject kick a football at it ten times from a distance of 6.1m. Two 'raters' independently measured the distance from the bulls-eye to the centre of each ball mark, each taking the marks in a different random order. They then repeated their measurement on the same day, taking the marks in a different random order.

The results showed a high degree of inter-and intra-rater reliability in measurement, with distances from the bulls-eye to the ball mark (ranging from 25.7cm to 150.75cm) accurate to within 0.15cm. To our knowledge, no other tool has demonstrated reliability. Measurements were made to within 0.15cm, suggesting that the target is sensitive to changes in kicking accuracy. Such targets may also be helpful in sports other than soccer, such as lacrosse, ice hockey, field hockey and handball.' These results suggest that our method for assessing kicking accuracy is a practical, valid and reliable tool for analysing performance in soccer players,' state the researchers.

This particular device was tested indoors in a gym. But the researchers point out that game situations could be simulated more accurately by using defenders or a goalie against the player kicking at the target, placing it on a playing field - although not in rain or extreme wind - or making it larger to replicate the size of an actual goal (244x732.5cm).

They conclude that training and research are the two main applications of the target. The bulls-eye could be moved to different places on the target, allowing players to practice kicking to specific spots. Each player's accuracy could be determined for each spot, and regions to which the player does not kick accurately could become a primary focus of training. The target could then be used to measure improvements in accuracy over time.

Article Reference

The information on this page is adapted from Walker (2003)[1] with the kind permission of Electric Word plc.


  1. WALKER, I. (2003) Football: a new measure of kicking accuracy. Peak Performance, 180, p. 10-11
  2. FINNOFF, J.T. et al. (2002) A valid and reliable method for measuring the kicking accuracy of soccer players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 5(4), p. 348-353

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2005) Kicking Accuracy [WWW] Available from: [Accessed