Rickie Lambert: How to hit the back of the net
Southampton’s star striker shares his expert advice on finding space, finding confidence and finding the back of the net
First touch is everything“It’s important everywhere on the pitch, but especially when you want to give yourself that extra second or two to create scoring opportunities. When you receive the ball move it either left or right, depending on where you feel more comfortable. When the pass is coming in, try to keep a couple of yards between yourself and your marker. To do this, stay on your toes, then move towards your marker before quickly coming away from him in one movement. That will give you those vital extra milliseconds, which can make all the difference.”
Stay calm and confident“Sometimes it’s clear what you should do in front of goal, but at other times your actions are dictated by the keeper and his positioning. If he opens up one side of his goal, then you know where to aim. But if he stands up to you, that obviously makes it harder. You then have a choice: wait until he makes a move, or have it clear in your head exactly where you want to put the ball – and make sure you don’t change your mind at the last moment. Stay calm and confident in the decision you make.”
More chances will come“If things are maybe not going for you in a game, try and get involved a bit more in the action. You’ll be surprised but a few good touches on the ball or a few passes can bring the confidence back. The important thing for a striker is to maintain is single-mindedness; if you do miss a pass, don’t beat yourself up over it. When I was younger my head would go down too soon if I missed a sitter, but now I’m already looking forward to that next chance, that next opening on goal.”
LAMBERT'S SHOOTING DRILLImprove your first touch, finishing and confidence courtesy of the frontman’s favourite training ground routine
“There’s one drill I do in training to keep me sharp in front of goal, and primarily to improve my first touch.
I stand in the ‘D’ on the edge of the penalty box. I then have a player placed on either post, and they will take it in turns to ping balls at me at pace.
I will take five to 10 balls from one post, then five to 10 balls from the other. I am only allowed one touch to control the ball, then another to shoot, staying in that D at all times.
There will be a goalkeeper between the posts, but no defenders in the box as the focus is solely on me as a striker.
The majority of the balls will come at me along the ground, but there are times when the guys on the posts will include some variation: the ball might be chipped in and I will have to control it with my chest before shooting, for example.
If you manage to bring the ball under control in the D with one touch then you take your shot.
If you fail to control it, however, the penalty is that you are not allowed your shot at goal. See how many shots you can manage in succession.
After training, four or five of us will do this and obviously there’s healthy competition. If I don’t feel I have done particularly well in training, I will spend some time doing this drill, but if I’m on top of my game then I’ll only spend a short while at it.
For younger players trying this, it’s worth slowing down the speed of the ball as it is passed into the D.
It might even be a good idea to roll the ball before you feel confident enough to receive a faster pass.
This drill is all about improving your touch, just to give you that split-second advantage over your opponent.
Accuracy obviously comes into it too but working on improving your touch will ultimately improve your confidence – something that all strikers thrive on."