HOLD UP PLAY
Strikers are unique in that they spend the majority of their time facing the opposite direction to his/her teammates when the team is attacking. Unfortunately, this skill is one of the most neglected, yet most important, aspects of a striker’s game both individually and for the team.
Honing these skills allows players to:
- slow the game down
- help the team progress up the field in a more controlled manner
- bring other team mates into the game, therefore strengthening the attack
- cause full-backs to cover their center-halves, leaving more open spaces for your wide players to utilize
RUNS IN AND AROUND THE PENALTY BOX
Movement off the ball is vital for a striker as it keeps defenders constantly guessing. Making instinctive runs can be effective in and around the box. Being able to recognize when and how to execute your runs will help your teammates and give you the advantage over those trying to mark you. Strikers must make at least two different types of definite runs before reaching their destination. Being proactive will give you an advantage over defenders, who by nature are more reactive.
USING DIFFERENT SURFACES OF THE BODY TO CONTROL THE BALL
Soccer is an extremely fast paced and dynamic sport. Strikers have a huge responsibility to be technically adept to receive and deal with the ball, from a variation of passes and at rapid speeds. As a result, strikers need to be equipped and comfortable enough to get the ball under control quickly, using any surface of the body.
STRIKING THE BALL WITH THE INSIDE OF THE FOOT
Using the inside of the foot to strike the ball is very effective when executed correctly, and can result in greater control when shooting at goal. Players can execute this technique with power and control in an attempt to add more spin and intentionally bend it, making it harder to save. Using this skill requires a lot of focus, technique and the correct body positioning.
STRIKING THE BALL WITH THE LACES OF THE CLEAT/BOOT
This technique is the most common for a striker and requires power, accuracy, and impeccable technique. Including correct body shape when striking the ball.
HEADING THE BALL WITH POWER AND ACCURACY
Young players aren’t as proficient when it comes to this skill, mainly because most coaches don’t spend enough time teaching them how to head the ball properly. Whether it’s cushioning a header to a teammate, with power towards goal or clearing the ball. This is an essential skill for a striker.
TAKING DEFENDERS ON
This is the fun part! One of the main reasons attacking players choose this position. Being able to take on a defender and beat them, is one of the most thrilling parts of the game. From my experience taking on defenders requires technical ability, instinct, and the ability to read a defender’s strengths and weaknesses.
To keep defenders guessing strikers need to be unpredictable at all times, whether it’s holding the ball up or to ‘turn them’. This will make you increasingly difficult to mark. Being able to turn defenders requires a lot of intelligence; you need to think about your own movement, where the defenders are situated, and be able to use a defender’s body to your advantage.
DEVELOP MENTAL TOUGHNESS
A striker should emphasize on developing his/her mental strength because it's the only position on the field where a player is judged purely on the amount of goals scored, in any given performance. Moreover, you may only get one chance to score in a game, which means you must be ready, confident and able to perform when needed. A striker can make 10 great runs in a game and may only receive the ball once. This frustration can dent a striker’s confidence, so only those with extreme mental toughness and persistence will triumph.
Receiving the ball in or around the box makes you an immediate danger to the opposition. It is at this precise moment that a striker is faced with a handful of distractions and decisions . These will include the speed of the game, oncoming defenders, the atmosphere, and a screaming coach/parent. This is when staying composed is crucial to your performance; it could be the difference between scoring a goal or not.