For decades, football fans have been able to bet on a number of markets linked to the outcome of a match – win-draw-win, over/under goals lines, cards, corners and half time-full time, amongst many more.
In more recent times, we’ve been able to have a flutter on the first/anytime goalscorer and the associated wincast/scorecast markets, but – perhaps aided by the rise in popularity of ‘prop’ bets in the US – now bookmakers are digging even deeper into the beautiful game with their betting options.
Today, a number of mainstream bookies are offering granular betting markets – player shots, passes, tackles, cards… you wonder where it will end!
But there are opportunities to profit from these player props, and value can be found in one interesting market in particular: shots on target.
What is Shots on Target Betting?
It’s important to note the definition of a shot on target (SOT) before we can consider it from a betting perspective.
Most of the betting firms that offer SOT betting use OPTA as their stats gurus, and so it’s worth noting their definition of a shot on target:
A shot on target is ‘a clear attempt to score that would have gone into the net but for being saved by the goalkeeper, or is stopped by a player who is the last-man with the goalkeeper having no chance of preventing the goal (last line block).’
So, a shot that goes wide of the post or over the bar is clearly not on target, while – and this confuses some – any shot that hits the woodwork is also classed as NOT on target, unless the ball then ricochets over the line and is given as a goal.
Interestingly, from a betting perspective, a goal is classed as a shot on target – so if your selection scores, their SOT tally will increase by one.
But it should be noted that a shot blocked by a player who is not considered the last man, even if the trajectory of the ball would see it hit the back of the net, is not classed as a shot on target.
A shot on target can come from open play or a dead ball situation, and that latter point is particularly pertinent when we consider SOT betting strategies later in this article.
How to Bet On Shots On Target?
It should be noted that not all bookmakers offer shots on target betting, so you will need to shop around to find those that do.
Another issue some punters find is that they cannot find SOT betting odds, and the reason for that is that they tend to be ‘hidden’ behind the various bet builder options that firms offer.
For example, with one bookie you will find shots on target betting odds – for games in which they are available – by clicking on the Bet Builder tab of their display:
As you can see, this is a historic example from the Chelsea vs Brentford game. The players are listed alphabetically (there’s plenty more options off the bottom of this screenshot), and you can see the odds for Over 0.5, Over 1.5 shots on target and so on – you can go for as many as 3.5 or more if you wish.
There does appear to be interesting value here – an attacking player, such as Kai Havertz, is odds-against to have two or more shots on target in a game against a clearly weaker opponent.
So is shots on target betting a good idea?
Shots On Target Betting Strategies
These days, it’s not too difficult to find shots on target stats for each team and player in the Premier League, and we’re happy to recommend FBRef as a good starting point – they offer SOT stats for La Liga, German Bundesliga, Serie A etc… and some bookies offer shots on target betting for these divisions too.
According to FBRef, this was how the Premier League’s best shots on target merchants were faring about three-quarters of the way through the 2021/22 season:
|#||Player||Total SOT||SOT per 90|
As you can see, it’s actually pretty rare for a player to have more than two shots on target per game – but remember, these stats are season-long averages. If Liverpool played Norwich, for example, we might expect Salah, Mane and Jota to fire in at least two SOT on the Canaries goal.
As far as shots on target betting strategies are concerned, the ideas are pretty obvious. Ideally, you want to be backing players that will start games, have a high chance of scoring (an automatic shot on target) and who will be active in and around their opponents’ penalty area.
One interesting strategy is to consider teams that give lots of fouls away, or who aren’t afraid of making tackles in their own defensive third of the pitch (FBRef is again an excellent resource for these). The opponents of these sides might be awarded free kicks close enough to goal to shoot from – the likes of De Bruyne, Maddison and James Ward-Prowse tend to be excellent candidates for SOT in these situations.