What Are Shots on Target in Soccer? 

What Are Shots on Target in Soccer? 

What are shots on target in soccer? A shot on target is a goal attempt that is aimed towards the goalpost and is either blocked by the goalkeeper or goes into the net.

It is an important metric that helps teams and coaches analyze their performance and strategize their gameplay.

Understanding shots on target is crucial for soccer players, coaches, and fans. It provides valuable insights into a team’s performance and can help identify areas for improvement.

Does a team have lots of shots but a small percentage are on target? They may need to focus more on shooting more during training sessions.

By analyzing shots on target, teams can adjust their tactics, improve their accuracy, and ultimately increase their chances of winning.

Defining Shots on Target in Soccer

Technical Definition

According to Opta, a shot on target is “any goal attempt that goes into the net, or would have gone into the net if not for being stopped by the goalkeeper or the last defender”. This definition is widely accepted and used by many soccer leagues, teams, and fans.

Recognizing Soccer Shots on Target

Recognizing shots on target is pretty straightforward.

When a player kicks the ball towards the goal, the ball can either go into the net, be saved by the goalkeeper, or be blocked by the defender. If the ball goes into the net, it is a goal. If the goalkeeper saves the ball, but it was going to go into the net, it is a shot on target.

It is worth noting that not all shots on target are equal. Some shots are easier to save than others, depending on the location, speed, and trajectory of the ball. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the quality of the shots on target, not just the quantity.

Shots on Target: Strategic Importance

In the college and professional ranks, shots on target can provide valuable strategic insights into a team’s offensive performance.

soccer shot girl

Coaches and players can use this metric to identify areas where their team needs to improve their shooting accuracy.

For instance, a team that consistently misses the target may need to work on their shooting technique or positioning to increase their chances of scoring.

Additionally, shots on target can help teams identify their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses.

By analyzing their opponents’ shots on target, teams can develop effective defensive strategies to counter their opponents’ attacks.

For example, a team that is vulnerable to shots from a particular area of the field can adjust their defensive formation to limit their opponents’ scoring opportunities.

Influence on a Soccer Game

Offensive Tactics

Offensive tactics that can help increase the number of shots on target include:

  • Quick passes and movement: This can create gaps in the opposition’s defense, allowing players to take shots on target.
  • Crossing: Crossing the ball into the box can create goal-scoring opportunities, leading to shots on target.
  • Set-pieces: Set-pieces such as corners and free-kicks can provide opportunities for players to take shots on target.

Defensive Counter

Defensive teams, on the other hand, aim to reduce the number of shots on target they concede. They can do this by:

  • Keeping a tight defense: This means closing down attacking players and minimizing the amount of space they have in the final third.
  • Blocking shots: Defenders can block shots by getting in the way of the ball or putting their bodies on the line to prevent the ball from reaching the goal.
  • Forcing shots wide: Defenders can also force attackers to take shots from difficult angles, reducing the chances of the shot being on target.


In summary, shots on target in soccer are a crucial metric in measuring a team’s offensive performance during a match.

They are defined as any shot that is aimed towards the goal and would go in if it were not stopped by the goalkeeper or the goalpost.

Shots on target can be used to evaluate the competitiveness of a soccer match, as they provide insight into the number of chances created by a team and the quality of their finishing.

However, it is important to note that not all shots on target are created equal. Some may be easier to save than others, and some may be struck with more power or accuracy than others.

Overall, shots on target are a valuable statistic for analyzing a team’s offensive performance in soccer.

By tracking this metric, coaches and players can gain insights into their strengths and weaknesses and make data-driven decisions to improve their gameplay!

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created soccernovo.com to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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