The ultimate FIFA 21 shooting and manual headers guide

David Purcell

Looking to improve finishing in FIFA 21? Our ultimate attacking guide has everything you need to score more goals, with top tips, controls, and how to exploit new features like Manual Headers. 

Having already put together guides for defending and passing in FIFA 21, we couldn’t leave out the most important aspect of football. Hitting the back of the net.

Scoring is the most important part of football, of course many of you will know that already. Big moments open up in matches and when that door of opportunity opens, it’s down to your skill to be able to slam it wide open and capitalize.

Here, we discuss everything from basic control to mastering the specifics. We’ll start off small, but keep reading on for the good stuff. The guide will be updated regularly as the game goes on as well so you can keep a good handle on the meta.

How to improve finishing in FIFA 21

EA has promised a hefty overhaul of attacking and defending systems in FIFA 21.EA SPORTS
Hitting the back of the net will be much easier if you follow our guide.

The basic attacking controls

Before we jump into the heavier stuff, it’s important to know all of the controls for FIFA 21 attacking. On top of that, we’ll also be including some tips on how to exploit the game’s newest features like controlled runs.

Below is a list of the basic controls you will need to know. Regular players will be aware of them all by now, no doubt.

  • Ground pass/header: X or A
  • Lob pass/cross/header: Square or X
  • Through ball: Triangle or Y
  • Shoot/volley/header: Circle or B
  • Timed finish: Circle + Circle (timed) or B + B (timed)
  • Chip shot: L1 + Circle or LB + B
  • Finesse shot: R1 + Circle or RB + B
  • Low driven shot/downward header: L1 + R1 + Circle or LB + RB + B
  • Fake shot/pass: Circle/X with X + L in direction or X/B with A + L in direction
  • Threaded through ball: R1 + Triangle or RB + Y
  • Chipped through ball: L1 + Triangle or LB + Y
  • Driven lob pass/cross: R1 + Square or RB + X
  • High lob/cross: L1 + Square or LB + X
  • Low driven cross: Double Square or double X
  • Scoop style lob: L2 + Square or LT + X
  • Dummy a pass: Press and hold R1 or Press and hold RB
  • Cancel action: L2 + R2 or LT + RT
  • Flair pass: L2 + X or LT + A
  • Flair shot: L2 + Circle or LT + B
  • Driven ground pass: R1 + X or RB + A
  • Manual ground pass: L1 + R1 + X or LB + RB + A
  • Flick up for volley: R3 or R stick
  • Lofted Ground Through Pass: Double Triangle or Double Y
  • Lofted Ground Pass: Double X or Double A
  • Driven Lobbed Through Pass: L1 + R1 + Triangle or LB + RB + Y

FIFA 21 attacking tactics

Picking your team tactics is a big part of the gameplay experience. Whether you’re jumping into Career Mode or Ultimate Team (even Pro Clubs with new features), you will be more effective at scoring with the right ones.

With the game confirmed but not released as of August/September 2020, we don’t yet know how the meta is going to look and feel. Here are all of the attacking tactics available from FIFA 20, listed below. If more are added or removed for FIFA 21 attacking styles, we’ll update the list.

  • Get in the Box
  • Attacking fullbacks
  • Team Press
  • Striker Drop Back
  • Extra Striker
  • Overload Ball Side

Quick tactics have been adjusted so that players cannot waste time as well,

Changes to attacking in FIFA 21

Erling Haaland skipping past a defenderEA SPORTS
Make the most of your attacking opportunities by monitoring which players have special Position Attribute qualities.

Playing FIFA 21 like it’s still FIFA 20 is a mistake many will make at the start, maybe to their detriment. Keeping alert to the changes and how to exploit each of them is going to be the key in the early stages of the game in particular.

Some new Positioning Attribute Impacts have been added. An official description reads: “The Positioning attribute can impact many elements of Attacking Personality, and the specific behaviors below scale according to the player’s attribute. This means that an attribute of 85 might feel good and have a pronounced effect, but 90 is significantly better, and 99 is exponentially superior.”

FIFA 21 finishing: Position attributes

As confirmed in the gameplay pitch notes from EA, these new features have been added:

  • “Passer Readiness“ Runs: High attribute players will get into positions to start runs, adapting to the speed and angle of passes. Fast Build up tactics will override this, same with Get in Behind player instructions.
  • Decision Making Time And Intelligence: Players will have better timing intelligence, which is ideal for really attacking players. The higher the attributes of a player, the better this personality trait will be for them.
  • Passing Lane Analysis: More passing lanes will open up in FIFA 21, unlike FIFA 20 where many matches were cagey in competitive modes. Work the ball out wide and exploit the space where possible.
FIFA 21 player positioningEA SPORTS
Here’s a visual on how the attribute boosts will impact player positioning for high rated players.
  • Open Up Space: The absolute top rated players have this ability. This will be the ability to open up space between defense and attack, which will be super useful for stalemate games. Holding a run is a key sign of this happening, so keep an eye out when you’re attacking.
  • Ideal Crossing Positioning: Wide play has been improved with not just Manual Headers (which we’re about to come onto), but also ideal crossing positioning traits. Dangerous crossing opportunities will open up more in open play as a result.
  • Fake Runs In The Box: Here’s an interesting one. We’ve seen fake shots in FIFA for years, but how about fake runs! Change direction and hold in a pocket of space, while sending the defender the wrong way. You can see it now, Sergio Aguero tap ins all over the place. Do this by pressing up and down sharply with the left analog stick.
  • Chance Creation Support: If there’s a lack of passing options on, expect to see strikers drop into midfield to get the ball. This should, in theory, help with buildup play.

If there is anything more you can do to exploit these tools, we’ll update the guide once we get our hands on the new game.

FIFA 21 Manual Header tips: How to score more headers

If you were hoping for header changes in the new title, your luck is in. Let’s face it, they couldn’t really ignore how ineffective they were in FIFA 20 anyway.

“In FIFA 21, to improve the viability of scoring with headers, while keeping a skill gap in the game, we are introducing Manual Heading. To enable this option, a player would set the Assisted Headers option to ‘Off’, as detailed later in the article,” developers have confirmed.

With the goal being to have headers create and be used to take more chances, manual heading has been selected. Here’s how it works below.

In recent times manual heading has been optional, although in FIFA 21 a blanket change has been made. It is now mandatory in Ultimate Team, Pro Clubs, Online Seasons, and Friendlies.

FIFA 21 finishing: Creative Run controls

  • Directed Runs: (Triggered run) L1/LB then flick Right Stick (Calling short) R1/RB then flick Right Stick.
  • Directed Pass And Go: X/A then flick Right Stick.
  • Player Lock: L3/LSB+R3/RSB

Player lock allows you to lock one into attack. This means the AI takes control of the player on the ball, while you can control the run of the off the ball player.

‘Directed Runs’ and ‘Directed Pass and Go’ are a bit faster, though, and allow you to pick a direction you would like an attacker to run into. If you spot space in a defense, now it’s not all down to AI intelligence. Take control yourself.

Here is a short clip of how it works.

Other changes to attacking play

Most of the changes have been covered so far in our guide, but there are two others you should probably know about. The controls for both can be found below.

  • Set Up Touch 2.0 – R1/RB + Right-Stick flick in a direction
  • Improved Finesse Shots – R1/RB + O/B

As soon as we know more about specific FIFA 21 attacking controls, we’ll update each section and add more. Keep this page bookmarked and check it out as time goes on, because as the meta changes so will our tips. Follow us @UltimateTeamUK for more guides, leaks, and news.