World Cup: Is shooting from long range a bad idea?

David Beckham
Some 2014 World Cup players could learn a thing or two from the master of the free kick — David Beckham.
Credit: Getty Images

Through June 16, there had been 37 goals scored in 11 matches at World Cup 2014. Yet only five out of these 37 goals has been scored from long range (outside the penalty area). There has also yet to be a goal scored direct from a free kick.

Has the long range shooting been unusually poor so far?

These five goals have come from 138 long range shots. That is a success rate of just 3.6 percent!


Is this unusual? What about previous tournaments?

At World Cup 2010 there were five goals scored direct from free kicks. Two of these five were against Denmark:

Keisuke Honda (Japan)

Yasuhito Endo (Japan)

However these free kick goals came from a total of 149 direct free kick shots. This is a conversion rate of just 3.4 percent!

[Source: FIFA 2010 Technical Report]

The situation isn’t much better when you include all shots and goals scored from outside the penalty box.


The table above shows all shots taken at World Cup 2010.


There were more shots taken from outside the penalty area than inside (1,039 versus 771) yet shots from outside were far less likely to result in a goal scored: 3 percent versus 15 percent!

A shot from outside was more likely to be either wide or blocked by a defender and therefore less likely to even be on target. If it was on target it was also more likely to be saved.

At World Cup 2010 33 of the 145 goals only scored were from outside the penalty area (22.8 percent).

Information courtesy of


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