To put it in simple words, strikers in soccer are the scoring machines that each soccer team depends on to win a game. But let’s take one step back before we dive into what a striker does in soccer.
If you have watched soccer before, then you very easily tell how large the soccer field is. With only 11 players on each team, the players won’t be able to cover up all the field if they do not assign roles to each other.
For this reason, a soccer team divides their players based on their role on the field. For example, a soccer team has players whose job is to defend the net, players whose job is to control the center of the field, and players whose job is to score goals.
The strikers are goal scorers.
A striker’s main job in soccer is to score goals against their opponent. Strikers usually position themselves somewhere close to their opponent’s goal and wait for their teammates to send the ball towards them. Once a striker has the ball, they immediately attempt to land the ball inside their opponent’s net.
Where does the soccer striker usually position themselves on the field?
During most of the soccer game, a striker will usually be standing on the opponent’s side of the field.
If the striker’s team is attacking, then the striker will be standing somewhere close to the opponent’s penalty area or even inside the penalty area in order to improve their chances of scoring if their teammates manages to pass them the ball.
Even when the striker’s opponents are the ones attacking, the striker will most probably be standing somewhere close to the middle of the field hoping that their teammates can extract the ball from the opponent and kick it towards them for a counter attack.
However, sometimes strikers are also required to help their teammates in defense if they are facing a team that is much better than they are.
For example, if a team’s coach decides that they are going to “Park the Bus”, meaning that they will be defending throughout the whole game, then the striker will be required to also be on the defensive side instead of always waiting for the ball and attempting to score.
In these scenarios, the striker will still be required to score goals when they get the chance to, but they will be prioritizing defense over taking risks and attempting to score.
Before we move on to the next point, I just want to clarify that the striker is not the only soccer player that can score goals. Any player on the field is allowed to score. Even the goalkeepers can score goals. However, the strikers are usually the players who are supposed to score the most since it is their job to do so.
What is the difference between a forward and a striker in soccer?
Usually, people who are new to soccer might confuse the terms “striker” and “forward”. To put it in simple words, a striker position is one of many forward positions within a soccer team.
A soccer team usually consists of 3 broad groups. These groups are
- The Defense Players
- The Midfield Players
- The Forward Players
However, these soccer groups or roles can be further subdivided into more roles. In our case, the forward position is subdivided into multiple positions including the striker.
Other forward positions in soccer include the forward wingers and the center forwards.
What makes a good soccer striker?
A striker’s job is vital to the success of the soccer club that they play for. Strikers are loved by soccer fans, and the demands are high from them.
With all that in mind, what makes a good striker? What makes a striker that can score goals and satisfy the fans? Here are some traits that strikers must have in order to meet up the expectations.
1- Strikers should know where to stand without the ball.
When it comes to soccer, a player’s skills aren’t only measured by what they do when they have the ball, they are also measured by what they do when they do not have the ball.
For example, if a soccer player knows where to stand when they don’t have the ball, then they’ll be much more dangerous than strikers who don’t.
A striker needs to make it easy for their teammates to pass the ball to them. They should stand in places that are within the reach of their teammates.
Strikers also need to stand in positions where they will get better chances to score when they receive the ball.
Strikers will also need to run along with the forward wingers in case the wingers are heading towards their opponent’s goal. They need to run at a pace that’s close to their winger’s pace, and they need to head towards a position where the wingers can reach them with a cross-ball.
To put it in simple words, a striker should know how to act without the ball in order to maximize their availability to their teammates.
2- Strikers need strong kicks and a high kick accuracy.
If a striker does not know how to kick the ball accurately and with enough force, then they better change their position.
Strikers need a huge amount of accuracy whenever they kick the ball. Sometimes, they have to only score a goal by touching the ball only once. These scenarios require a lot of accuracy and concentration.
For example, if a forward winger crosses the ball towards the striker’s foot, then the striker might want to immediately kick the ball towards the goal the moment it reaches them. If the striker wants to land the ball inside the net in these scenarios, they should have great timing and high accuracy.
3- Strikers should be quick decision makers.
All soccer players should be quick decision makers since their opponent won’t give them a lot of time to think about their next move, however, strikers should be one of the quickest decision makers on the field.
A striker does not have a lot of time to waste since they usually stand in the most critical positions on the field. The moment the striker has the ball, the opponent’s defense will run towards them from every angle because the striker poses a great threat against their team.
For this reason, the striker has to make a quick decision of what to do next. They should either decide to kick the ball immediately towards the net, or to try and dribble past the remaining defense of their opponent.
Strikers also need to make quick decisions whenever they come one on one with goalkeepers. They need to decide their target and how to kick the ball towards that target. If the striker takes too long to respond, they’ll find the goalkeeper in front of them in no time and they’ll lose their chance to score.
3- Strikers need to be fast.
Being fast as a striker is a great skill to have. Fast strikers pose more threat on the defence of a soccer team than strikers who aren’t as fast.
The reason behind it is that the faster a striker is, the less time the opponent’s defense players have to respond.
Some strikers have completely destroyed their opponents relying solely on their speed because their opponents simply could not keep up with them.
4- Strikers need high agility skills.
Agility is a fundamental skill that all soccer players should have. Strikers specifically need agility in order to trick the opponent’s defense whenever they get the chance to.
For example, strikers need to make sudden moves whenever they believe that their teammate is ready to pass them the ball. They are also required to make sudden changes in their running direction whenever they want to get rid of the defenders during a corner kick, and so on.
Strikers will be making instant changes in their positions just to trick the opponent’s defense, and these kinds of position changes require high agility skills.
5- Strikers should be good with headers.
Heading the soccer ball is a very common way for a striker to score a goal against their opponent.
Obviously, a striker needs to know how to head the soccer ball accurately. During a soccer match, the wingers will attempt to cross the ball towards the striker as many times as they can. If these crosses were high, then the striker will have to use their head to handle them.
If the striker is good enough with headers, they’ll turn more crosses into goals and that will make them live up to the expectations of their club and their fans.
With that said, I will end my article here. Here’s a quick summary of what you have just read.
Soccer strikers’ main job is to score goals against their opponents. Strikers will usually stand close to their opponent’s goal and wait for their teammates to pass them the ball in order to score.
For a striker to be considered a good player, they need to know how to act when they don’t have the ball, they need to make quick decisions, they need to kick the ball accurately, they need to know how to head the ball properly, they need to have high agility skills and more.