The striker in soccer is the player in the team who is going to your team the goals. They always seem to be in the right space at the right time to take a shot on goal. They are the players in the team who will consistently score goals and provide many match-winning moments. In this post, I am going to go over all the qualities and skills you need to be a striker in soccer.
Where does the Striker play in soccer?
The striker is always the furthest player forward for the team.
The striker will usually play in a more central position.
However, they can drift along the back-four depending on where the ball is on the pitch and how much success they get against opposition players.
Roles of the striker in soccer
When your commentators or coaches talk about the ‘number 9 role’ they are often referring to the striker.
The main role of your striker is to help your team to score goals.
Whether it be scoring them yourself or helping your teammates score.
The number 9s can do this by playing on the shoulder of the defenders, in their blind spots.
This means that their runs can be very hard to pick up.
Which makes it a lot harder for defenders to predict where you are going to go.
The strikers are a focal point of the team and behind every successful team is a world-class striker.
They can contribute crucial goals to the team, even if they are not playing well.
However, your role within the team isn’t just limited to this.
As well as scoring goals you have do have defensive responsibilities too!
Regardless of how good your goal-scoring record is, if you are not prepared to work for the team then the chances are you probably won’t start.
Here are the key roles and responsibilities you need to fulfill to be a striker in soccer.
These roles will be different depending on whether or not your team has the ball.
The strikers’ role in the team while in possession of the ball
Unsurprisingly, your main role while in possession of the ball is to help your team score goals.
As a number 9, you should always be looking for space to exploit.
This can either be in front of the defenders or in behind the defenders.
By finding these spaces strikers are putting themselves in the best position to potentially get some shots off on goal.
When strikers get the ball at their feet, the first thing they should be thinking is,
‘Can I score a goal?’
If yes, the striker needs to be confident to take the shot as early as possible because they typically won’t have too much to line up the perfect shot.
The best strikers are comfortable shooting from a wide range of positions with either foot.
When strikers shoot the ball they are almost always aiming for the corners of the goal, this is because these are the hardest places to reach for the goalkeepers.
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Become a target player
As a striker, you will always be the furthest player forward for the team.
This means that your team will constantly be trying to play the ball to you.
Being a target player is especially important if your team has just regained possession deep in their defensive half
As a target player, your role will be to hold up the ball long enough to give your teammates a chance to get up and support you.
Not only will this help relieve pressure on your team by maintaining possession but if your team transitions quickly enough you can set up a counter-attack.
You don’t need to be the biggest player on the pitch to be a target player, you just need to know how to use your body.
When receiving the ball into their feet, target players will stand in a side-on body position and receive the ball on the front foot.
This is to protect the ball from the defender who will be pressuring them from behind.
Create chances for teammates
As a striker, it is important that as well as scoring goals, you are helping set your teammates up for goals too.
Yes, this can be hard for a striker, especially when you are not scoring many goals.
But creating goals is just as important as scoring goals.
When you have the ball at your feet you should already have a picture in your head of what you want to happen.
Scan the area so you are aware of your teammates’ movements and where the goal is.
If your teammate has made a great run for a definite goal it would make sense to pass to them.
Sometimes as a striker the first picture in your head doesn’t always play out, so it is important to have a plan B.
For example, if you want to take a shot but the angle has been closed down, you should have a backup to pass to a teammate who is in a better position to score than you.
Nobody wants to play with a greedy striker!
The strikers’ role in the team while out of possession of the ball
Lead the press
A team’s first line of defense is their attack.
As the game has adapted, it has become increasingly popular to play the ball out from the back.
This means that teams have had to adapt an effective press to negate teams from playing out from the back.
During a press, a striker is the first player that is going to close down the opposition players.
This sets the tone for the rest of the press.
If a striker is quick to close down angles the other players will follow suit.
It pays dividends for a striker to work hard in pressing the opposition.
A successful press will force the defending team into a mistake in a dangerous area of the pitch.
This is will present the hard-working striker with a potential goal.
Click here for the 5 best soccer pressing drills
Help defend set-pieces
As a striker in soccer, your aerial prowess may need to be required to help defend from set pieces.
Scoring goals is important but preventing goals is just as important if not more.
When defending your player make sure that you are standing in a side-on position so you can see the ball and player.
Even if you don’t think you can win the ball, still challenge the player to put them under as much pressure as possible.
Some players will switch off after the first ball has been cleared and lose track of their man.
Stay with your man until the phase of play has come to the end.
Look for space to receive the ball to start a counter-attack
As a striker, you shouldn’t be defending too deep, as you will give your team no outlet when they turn over possession.
As well as closing off passing lanes to help control where the opposition goes you should also be looking for positions to take up when your team regains control of the ball.
Make sure you are scanning the area so you know where the defenders are and the best spaces to move into.
So when a change of possession does occur you can react quickly and transition faster than the opposition team.
Remember, try not to lose focus of your defensive responsibilities during this phase of play.
Your team hasn’t get won the ball back, so if you decide to commit to making a forward run too early you’ll put your team at a huge disadvantage.
4 Qualities that all top strikers have in soccer
Strikers are one of the hardest-working players on the pitch.
They are continually making runs to try and receive the ball, closing down passing lanes, and tracking back to help prevent counterattacks.
The strikers lead by example for the work rate that is expected from the rest of the team.
Strikers sometimes go into matches with the mindset of ‘I’m only on the pitch to score goals, I don’t have to defend.
This is a really good way to frustrate your teammates.
Teammates love to play with a striker who is hungry to work when their team is in or out of possession.
A striker that works hard for the team will also get their reward in goals.
The quicker you are to close opposition players down, the less time and space you give them on the ball.
This means that the defender on the ball will have more pressure and will be more likely to make a mistake that a striker would love to pounce on!
If a striker wants to nail down the number 9 shirt, they need to show that they can score goals!
A ruthless finisher is a player that doesn’t pass up goal-scoring opportunities, they are clinical in front of a goal.
Once they get the ball you know their shot is hitting the back of the net.
This is what makes a striker a ruthless finisher:
- They will score with anybody part
A ruthless finisher will be able to score from anywhere on the pitch.
It doesn’t matter what angle, the distance, or whether it’s their left foot, right foot, or head.
They will always find the back of the net.
- They take their shots early
All the best strikers take their shots early.
As a striker, you must take the shot as soon as you think you can score.
If you wait too long you are allowing the defenders to get back and close you down.
The goalkeepers will also be able to get set to give them a better chance of saving your shot.
Taking early shots will catch the defenders and goalkeeper off guard and will give you the highest chance of scoring.
- Anticipation and reading of the game
Ruthless finishers will always be in the right place at the right time to put the ball beyond the keeper.
The best strikers can look around them and anticipate where the ball will end up based on what is going on around them.
This means they are the quickest to react to a loose ball or a low cross that has come into the box.
If you want to be a striker in soccer then this is a must!
Above all strikers should always put the team before themselves.
To be a striker in soccer you need to score goals but the strikers are also there to help teammates get goals too.
Especially when there are teammates who are in better scoring positions.
Sometimes the striker doesn’t even have to be on the ball to be a team player.
The striker can make little runs and movements to lure the defender out of position to create space for teammates to move into.
The striker will not always get credit for these types of runs but they are just as important as making decisive passes that lead to goals.
If you want to be a striker in soccer then you need to work on your decision-making.
The best strikers can make the best decisions.
They know when to take a shot, when to pass or when to dribble past the defenders.
The strikers can paint the picture in their head because they are always 2 or 3 steps ahead of the game.
They do this by constantly checking around the pitch so they a constantly updated with the positions of their teammates and the opposition defenders.
As well as scanning the area around them strikers will listen to the information that their teammates are giving them.
Letting them know whether or not they can turn to shoot, or whether a player is closing them down.
On top of this, they can draw on their past experiences and knowledge of what to do in certain situations.
5 skills all strikers need to work on in soccer
As a striker, you need to be confident in your 1v1 scenarios.
To beat the defender, you need to be able to use a combination of skills, change of direction, and pace.
You should also be comfortable using skills with both feet, this will make it incredibly hard for the defender to predict what you are going to do.
When you are dribbling you want to make sure you are keeping your head up as often as possible, this will help you make better decisions when dribbling the ball.
There needs to be a purpose as to why you are dribbling to beat the defender.
Is it move past them and dribble into the space behind them, to take a shot or cross?
Do you want to get them to a slight shift in one direction so you can fashion yourself a shot on goal?
Or do you want to drag them out of position so a teammate can move into the space they have left?
Always back yourself to beat the defender and learn from your mistakes.
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Movement off the ball
The work you do off the ball is just as important as the work you do on the ball.
As a striker, you need to be aware of how your movements can affect the players around you.
Whether it be your teammates or your opponents.
As a striker, your movement off the ball is what’s going to help you get in as many goal-scoring as possible.
Here are 2 different scenario’s to show you why your movement off the ball is so important:
- Create space for yourself to receive the ball to your feet or in behind a defender
- To create space for your teammates to move into.
When you are trying to create space for yourself, your first movement should always be to drag the defender away from the space you want to move into.
The second movement should then be into the space you want to receive the ball.
The second move should be a short, sharp change of direction.
Sometimes you may even have to make 2 or 3 movements to create space for yourself.
If you are trying to create space for a teammate your first movement should be into the space that the teammates want to move into.
Your second movement should be away from that space so your teammate can then move into that space.
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If you don’t shoot then you don’t score!
Strikers need to be confident shooting from anywhere with either foot.
When you are in and around the box you should be scanning every so often, the goal and the goalkeeper.
This so you always know where you are in relation to the goal and where the goalkeeper is placed within the goal.
Scanning will help you decide:
- What will be the best technique to take the shot, either using the inside of your foot for placement or the outside of your foot for power.
- The best place to aim the shot is based on the goalkeepers’ position.
- Whether or not you need to hit the shot first or whether you can take a touch before you shoot
- If there is a teammate who is in a better position to score.
The more frequently you can, the quicker your decision-making will be when shooting, and the higher the chance of converting your shots increases.
Reading the game
Some strikers are gifted with the ability to be in the right place at the right time and this can sometimes seem like a fluke.
This comes down to the strikers’ ability to read games and paint a clear picture in their heads as to what could happen next.
The more experience strikers have played competitive games the greater their knowledge becomes.
One of the ways they can build up this knowledge is by being aware of your teammate’s runs on and off the ball.
By doing this you will start to better understand the runs and passes your teammates like to make.
This makes their behaviors a lot easier for you to predict.
Another way is by watching the defenders and picking up on certain bad habits that you can exploit.
For example, getting drawn into the ball and not checking their shoulders when an attack happens down the wing.
Watching replays of yourself in a game will help you see the game from a different perspective.
Hold up play
As a striker, your role isn’t always to get behind the defender or turn to run at the defender.
Sometimes you need to receive the ball to your feet and hold the ball up for your team.
By holding the ball up you are allowing your team to help support you during an attack.
This is also a great way to help your team retain possession of the ball if they have just been under a large amount of pressure.
To hold the ball up as a striker you don’t need to be the biggest player on the pitch, you just need to learn how to use your body.
Here are the tips I give to players to help them hold the ball up:
- Receive the ball in a side-on body
This helps put a great distance between the defender and the ball
- Receive the ball on the front foot
This is the foot furthest away from the defender and will make it hard for them to win the ball
- Bend your knees and stick your butt out
This will help brace yourself against the defender and harder to knock off the ball
- Use your arm to help give yourself some extra distance from the defender.
This doesn’t need to be a stiff arm, just a slightly bent arm placed on the defender’s chest.
You’ll be facing away from the ball.
So this arm will help give you an idea of where the defender is.
Never lose the ball again with these tips on how to protect the ball
3 unstoppable strikers you need to watch in soccer
Jamie Vardy currently plays for Leicester City and he was part of their title-winning team in 2015/16. s
He also set a Premier League goalscoring record in the process, scoring in 11 consecutive games.
Jamie Vardy was a relentless worker and was always on the heels of defenders.
This would force them into mistakes, allowing his team to capitalize.
When he was in front of goal, he was a ruthless finisher, giving the keeper no chance to make a save.
He also had a great game sense and was able to find great goal-scoring spaces.
Thomas Muller has played a key role in the success of Bayern Munich, scoring goals when they count!
Muller has a different play style from many other strikers and this makes him truly unique.
When you look int his stats everything says that he shouldn’t be a professional footballer
He is a specialist at reading the game and knowing exactly where to be to score goals.
His expert movement to create space for himself and his teammates is how he can create and score so many goals.
Ibrahimovic burst onto the scene as a teenager for Malmo FF. He has then gone on to play for numerous high-profile clubs such as Barcelona, Manchester United, and PSG to name a few.
Zlatan plays as a number 9 who can bully defenders with his physicality, this makes him a fantastic target man.
He also has silky smooth feet and balance for a tall player.
Ibrahimovic has an eye for goal and has a knack for scoring extraordinary goals for a variety of positions.
The confidence he shows in these shooting scenarios is second to none.
How to be a striker in soccer conclusion
In this post, I hope I have given you the roles, responsibilities, and skills you need to be a striker in soccer.
To help your team win games in soccer not only do you have to score goals but you have to work incredibly hard off the ball too.
As a striker, some of the most influential moments in a game can be created by your work off the ball.
It’s not always a case of what you can do with the ball at your feet.
Make sure you are taking every opportunity you can to practice and get better at your finishing.
Focus on taking your shots early and aiming for the corners.
If you are looking to be as successful as possible on the pitch then you should be putting the work in off the pitch.
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Have a look at my other player guides and tips:
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