Soccer (football), Sport

What does the shot conversion rate for goals means in soccer?

Shot conversion for goals, also known as the conversion rate, is an indicator for the effectiveness of shots taken. It seems easy to calculate. However, we can distinguish between two types of rates. Let us briefly present you the models and describe how they work.

First: you can get the conversion rate by dividing the number of goals by the number of shots. Easy-peasy. Then you can multiply by 100 and you get the percentage conversion rate. What about the two types of rates mentioned? When you are calculating the conversion rate, you can count the number of total shots in the match, season, etc. But if you want to get a more detailed result, you can take into account only the number of shots on target. These are actually the shots that were aimed on target, but for some reason, only some of them resulted in a goal being scored – the rest were blocked, caught, cleared or saved.

It is always easier when we talk with the use of real numbers and not only about the math  itself– sorry, Einstein. Let’s look at these two ways of calculating conversion rates using the teams with the highest number of total shots and shots on target at the 2018 World Cup finals.

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Let’stake a look at the teams with the highest number of total shots in their matches. The most frequent shooting teams were Belgium (75), Croatia (71) and Brazil (70). But did the impressive number of shots help them to get the highest number of goals in the tournament? Only partly, because Belgium scored the most goals (16). On the other side – Brazil scored only 8 goals. We can clearly see that their conversion rate wasn’t so high.

Team Total shots Goals Conversion rate
Belgium 75 16 21.30%
Croatia 71 15 21.10%
Brazil 70 8 11.40%

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As we can see, the discrepancy between the three teams, who took the most shots, is quite big. There is around a 10 percent point range. Quite a significant gap. But wait a second, where are the World Champions on this chart? Bear with me.


They stand out when the shots on target are counted. Does this mean they were very effective in their attempts? It looks like it, because they have one of the highest conversion rates for goals from shots on target. In real numbers it means that they only needed about 2 shots on target, to score a goal. Woah! So how do they look in comparison to the teams mentioned previously?

Team Shots on target Goals Conversion rate
Croatia 32 15 46.90%
France 32 14 43.80%
Belgium 39 16 41%
Brazil 39 8 20.50%


You might be curious what the conversion rate is for the top football clubs. What are the average standards for the biggest teams in Europe? We can bring you this information.

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Manchester city, the team that dethroned all others and became the only team to scored over 100 goals in the Premier League in a season, had to take 509 shots – 272 of them were on target. This gives us conversion rates of  21% and 39%. For comparison, their biggest rivals – well-known neighbors – Manchester United, had a lot less attempts, but their conversion rate was at a similar level. So in their case, the solution would be to increase the number of attempts through more frequent attacks.

Now let’s look at it from the other side: whether a smaller number of goals and points at the end of season were determined by a low conversion rate? We call Spanish Malaga to the board. This is the team that earned the smallest number of points across the five strongest leagues in Europe and also scored the least number of goals in their league. If we take a closer look, they also have the smallest number of shots on target in La Liga for the 2017/18 season. They shot 294 times and only 125 of these shots were on target. Malaga scored only 24 goals and this gives us a 19% conversion rate with shots on target and only a 8% conversion rate when all shots are taken into account. So they had to shoot more than 12 times to score a goal. What a waste! So the answer is yes – small conversion rates in combination with a fewer number of attempts, is a recipe for relegation.

After analyzing the extremes that represent the best and the worst, the last thing we have left to do, is to present the average results of conversion rates for the strongest leagues. The results are almost the same in each league. The total number of shots is over the 300 mark, the average number of shots on target oscillates around 150 and teams scored about 50 goals for the season. All of this gives us results of a 15% conversion rate when we look at the total number of shots taken and 31% for shots on target.

League Total shots Shots on target Goals Conversion rate of total shots Conversion rate of shots on target
La Liga 341.6 166.9 51.2 14.70% 31%
Premier League 330.7 162 50.9 15% 31%
Bundesliga 311.2 154.9 47.5 15% 31%
Serie A 361.8 173.8 50.9 13.90% 29%
Ligue 1 347.8 165.4 51.7 14.50% 31%

Data source:

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