I love scoring goals. I love watching my favorite team score goals. I am sure you do too. Goals are what we watch soccer for or at least get us to start giving it our attention.
The thrill, the excitement, the zeal created by a single goal is unmatched by anything else. It is the reason why most people have a ‘striker’ as their favorite player. Goals are the reason why the world loves Ronaldo, Messi, Ibrahimovic, and other tremendous goalscorers.
Goals win games, and strikers score goals. Yes, soccer is a team sport, but what’s the one thing that makes teams efficient in their functioning? As a coach, I can tell you it is ‘delegation of responsibilities.’ And whose responsibility is it to score goals? The striker.
In this article, I’ll take you over the role of a ‘striker’ and the various responsibilities, strategies, techniques a good striker must have. Let me show you how to play striker in soccer!
Why A Team Needs A Striker In Soccer
For the unaware, soccer players are often categorized as forwards, midfielders, and defenders. What do they do? Well, their role depends on where they are on the pitch.
Forwards are those who play in the offensive zones of the field and are often responsible for scoring goals. Defenders are those who play in the defensive zone of the field and are usually responsible for ensuring the other team doesn’t score goals. Midfielders play in between the offensive and defensive zones and are tasked with gluing the offense and defense together.
We are focusing on the forwards, more specifically, the striker.
So, why does a team need a dedicated person to score the goals? Why not have everyone take a shot at the goal? Let me answer you with an example.
Have you ever watched five-year-olds play soccer? The chaos that ensues when every single kid is running behind the ball? Yes, the commotion that got your aunt’s kid to hate soccer, that’s what I am talking about.
Now, think about an MLS game of soccer. What makes it so enjoyable to watch? What is that one thing that allows your favorite team to pull off those Hollywood passes and score spectacular bicycle kicks? The answer is using the right person in the right part of the field.
It is one of my duties to assess a player’s strengths and weaknesses. This analysis allows me to position my team for the best possible passing plays, team build-ups, and goals in a game.
Imagine what happens when your team makes a beautiful combination of 21 passes, breaks into the opponent’s penalty area, takes a shot, and misses it wildly! Oh, the frustration! Now imagine the same situation with a striker that has excellent finishing skills. What happens now? Hopefully, your striker does his job and scores.
I hope that clears any doubts about why a soccer team needs a striker.
Role Of A Striker
The previous section cleared why the role of a soccer striker exists. Now, let us do a deep dive into what this role demands from the player.
A striker’s role in soccer is simple: score goals. However, executing that task is not just a matter of prowess but also consistency. As fans of soccer, we love goals. They’re exciting, they’re the “money balls” of any soccer match, and they’re usually the deciding factor in a match. But scoring them entails much more than is usually ignored.
Who will have the most shots on goal? The striker. Why? Because even though the defenders are trying to keep them from scoring, they still have the best position to get the ball into the back of the net. But to get in that position is a skill and not everyone is a natural at it. So you must train and practice diligently to develop your goal-scoring ability.
In general, a striker’s role will require you to:
- Get into goal-scoring positions.
- Make space for yourself to receive passes.
- Beat the opposition defense and any offside traps.
- Lead the offense.
- Make chances for other teammates.
Skills You Need To Be A Striker
A good striker will be fast, strong, have a powerful shot, and have a knack for getting the ball into the back of the net. He will also have excellent ball control, see and be aware of the open spaces on the pitch, time their runs, and beat the opposition defenders.
To break it down into skills you must train for, here’s the list.
- Speed – The faster you are, the harder it gets to stop you. Most explosive strikers in history have had great speed. You don’t have to be the fastest player on the pitch, but you must be fast as a striker.
- Strength – Strength comes in two types – mental and physical. You need both. Defenders will try to get physical with you and ‘bully’ you. If you’re strong, you’ll give them a hard time too. Plus, if your legs are powerful, your shot becomes just as tougher to stop. Mental toughness comes into the picture when it is an important game or a crucial moment in the match. The ability to have a clear head at any moment is a vital skill.
- Agility – Agility is the ability to quickly change speed and direction in a smooth, balanced way. Without agility, it would be impossible to make the nearly-impossible dives toward the goal or turn the corner on a defender to set up a pass. Agility is essential to every aspect of striker play. Remember, the quicker you are, the harder you are to deal with.
- Leadership – As a striker, you lead the attack on your team. But also, you are the first line of defense. You must be able to set up plays, attack the ball and inspire your team to attack. Your team’s attack is only as effective as you are.
- First Touch – The most important skill for a striker is the ability to receive the ball. Your first touch will be the difference between an excellent team goal and a blunder. The best strikers have an exquisite first touch that kills the ball dead on contact. The ball follows their command. Make sure you practice this the most.
- Dribbling – It is okay if you’re not the best dribbler on the planet, but you must be a good one. Your dribbling ability is crucial for you to move with the ball and do something meaningful. I am not saying you need to do step-overs like Ronaldo or Neymar, but if you can cut-inside the penalty area amidst a sea of defenders, you’ll be way ahead of the curve.
- Finishing Skills – Finally, even if you do everything right and complete a 35-pass move into the penalty area, it won’t matter if you can’t make the ball land in the back of the net. This ability is what will distinguish you from the rest. Ronaldo, Messi, Lewandowski, and several big names are because they can get the ball past the goalkeeper.
Different Types Of Strikers
Now that you’re equipped with a striker’s role, how you must play the role, and the skills every striker must have, it is time I introduce you to the different types of strikers.
Yes, not every striker is the same. I am sure you must have observed it too. Look at Fillipo Inzaghi and Robert Lewandowski. Both are excellent strikers but with a very different playstyle.
Let’s take a quick look over the different types of strikers in soccer
- Centre Forward – Great Centre Forwards, have two things nailed down – Physicality and Technique. They are well-versed with how to lead attacks and create space for teammates.
- Finisher – The name says it all. These are lethal, clinical finishers who have exceptional goal-scoring prowess. All you need to do is create opportunities for them, and they’ll make the rest happen.
- Playmaker – A playmaking striker is someone who has excellent finishing abilities as well as exceptional passing and dribbling abilities. They have an eye for that swift ‘through pass’ and have the skill to score many goals.
- Poacher – A poacher is a striker that takes few touches throughout the game and makes his presence known only when the ball needs to be put into the net. But that doesn’t mean they are lousy soccer players. They have exceptional positioning, agility, and game awareness.
- Target Man – The ‘Target Man’ role entails much more possession of the ball and setting up team moves. Their main job is to be available for crosses and finishing them.
This was a brief overview of a few different styles of strikers. Of course, there are more roles, but the goal of this article is not to speak about all the roles.
The role of a striker is an exciting one in soccer. It is crucial to any team’s success. If scoring goals is something you love, the role of a striker is the one for you.