Welcome! You are reading the ultimate guide for soccer strikers.
And let me be honest with you: This is not another post filled with fluff and general tips.
Of course, I'll cover everything so even beginners can keep up. But trust me, you are here for the hidden gems that are spread throughout this definitive guide for strikers.
You will also learn the best tactics for strikers in soccer along with the best strategies to score more goals as a striker.
So if you want to improve as a striker in soccer, score more goals, and be more helpful to your team, you better get some cup of coffee.
This comprehensive guide might change your soccer career!
Small note: This guide is a part of a series called "Soccer positions 101" - I am basically creating the most comprehensive resource about soccer positions, so you can improve your game and knowledge as a player, coach, or even a parent.
As easy as it sounds, you might think that strikers' only job is to score goals. While it is definitely a crucial objective of every striker, it is absolutely not the only task.
And if you think it is, let me change your mind. You have to think about the striker position in a little bit different way.
But first, let me tell you the definition of the striker position in soccer:
Strikers, forwards, or attackers usually play closest to the opponent's goal. The primary objective of the striker in soccer is to score goals. With this soccer position comes other responsibilities too, such as pressing, winning the ball on the opponent's half and shooting on the goal from all kinds of angles.
I also created this cool heatmap of a soccer striker on the field.
As you can see, he covers most of the opponent's half. It is a result of efforts to score a goal - but also we can't forget that he has to pressure enemy defenders a lot, in order to win the ball.
Now that we got the definition of the striker off our shoulders, let's talk about the key roles of a striker.
If you want to become a better striker, you cannot focus solely on scoring goals. Even as it stands in Wikipedia, as a striker you are responsible for other roles as well.
Now we're going to take a look at this complete list of roles, that every world-class striker has to do:
Let me be honest with you, if you want to be a top-tier soccer striker, you need to have the ability to score goals consistently. It's the holy grail of this position. There is no other way around it.
While I highly stress the fact, that there are other objectives too, this one is the most crucial. Winning teams are scoring goals, it's simple as that.
Now let's have a look at the most recent stats of Mohammed Salah for season 2021/2022.
According to Premier League stats, he scored 0.63 goals per match so far! Of course, there were probably even better stats where players scored more than 1 goal per match. This is just to show you that you need to be able to score goals.
In case you struggle with scoring goals as a striker, I understand. Everybody has this time when it's just not working right. I know how it feels to be under pressure from your coach and team. Expectations are too high, and you just can't score a goal. If this is the issue, I got you! I will give you some helpful tips later in this striker guide.
Another role of a striker is winning the balls on the opponent's half. Either from team pressing or your individual efforts - a striker that wins the balls is a very valuable asset to every team.
Imagine that your opponent has 72% possession of the ball. Your whole team is exhausted from constant running - and you guys can't somehow get to the ball. Now you get angry and start pressing the opponent and with a luck, you finally win the ball. This is a moment when your team gets to play on a ball, can rest, and prepare some play.
Do this multiple times throughout the match and I guarantee to you, that every coach and scout will notice you.
Since your main objective is to score more goals, you should be laser-focused on shooting.
Generally, the more times you will shoot, the chance of scoring a goal goes immediately up.
In the upcoming games, try to journal after each match how many shooting attempts you had. If the number is 0-1, something is wrong.
According to stats from Planet football, Neymar and Edinson Cavani make in combination take a shot every 12 minutes. That's a lot! Also, it's worth mentioning Edin Dzeko’s average of seven shots per match for Roma in Italy!
Shooting is a very important skill - but you have to also put it in the practice and actually shoot in the match. I know, it can be selfish sometimes. But you need to look at it in a different light. How many attack actions really end up with a shooting attempt? That's what I thought.. So it's better to take responsibility and try.
It's also good to train shooting with both legs. Not every situation in the match will be the same as in the training. In fact, I learned the hard way that every situation in the match is almost different. That's why you need to have the ability to adjust to the situation - and it gets easier if you can shoot with both legs.
Pressing in soccer is basically when the whole team starts pressing the opponent by aggressive attacking and pressuring. The goal of this tactic is to let opponents have as little time and space as they can handle - so they will be forced to play really fast, which usually results in making a mistake.
Striker, or player that moves around opponents' defenders, has the most crucial role in this pressing. Why?
Well, first of all, he has to give his teammates some kind of a signal. At the pro level, usually, there has to be a situation that meets specific criteria (for ex. center back receiving the ball from the goalkeeper). They always know when to start pressuring - but what's important to note is that it must always start with the forward / striker.
As a striker, you have to know how to make the life of the opposition harder on the soccer field.
Some strikers, such as Messi, are well-known for playing false 9. A great explanation of the false nine can be read here.
What this false nine does, is basically always move towards the ball from deeper positions. Usually, it's looking like he is dropping to the center of the field to receive the ball.
You can see an image of that right below - Messi dropping from deep positions to the center, while wings are making runs behind the defensive line so they can receive a ball.
As you can see, this is one way to help your midfielders to make the plays.
Being a striker doesn't mean you will end up as a selfish player. It's about knowing where to be at the right time, so your team can reap the benefits.
Helping your midfielders to make the plays is usually neglected by amateur strikers. Be better than 95% of them just by doing this!
I am talking about aggression, which makes the lives of your opposition much harder.
The more aggressive you are, the more balls you are going to win. Your enemy will simply do more mistakes. Ask any defender. I guarantee, that every single defender hates healthy aggressivity. Why?
Well, usually they really can't do anything about it - they just have to swallow it and deal with it.
Be careful though, a yellow card is really not good on the striker and usually results in substitution - especially when your team is used to pressing tactic.
Trust me, it happened to me many times!
Every player is different. Everybody has a unique set of qualities and skills. Some things can be learned, some can't. You know.. sometimes you have to play with the cards you're dealt.
But what if I could tell you, that you can definitely work on your mentality? What if you could change your attitude and your qualities, so you can thrive as a striker?
It is possible, but first, you need to know what you need to change.
So what qualities make a good soccer striker?
These are just a few of the qualities, that make a good soccer striker.
If you don't see yourself in all of them, that's fine! In case you don't see yourself in at least one of them, there's a lot of work waiting for you. But let's be honest here.. Qualities like "Hard worker", "Self-discipline" and "Optimism" is something you can start to practice right now. There's no excuse.
I think there are many of you who would like to hear some tips on how to actually improve your game.
Since I was playing as a pro for years, I learned a few tricks & tips that are literally game-changers. What you will read now, are not some general advice. Rather, these are actionable things you can start doing every single day.
Let's not waste any more of your time and let's start with the actual list.
Some of you might be thinking: "Oh no.. studying again?".
But before you skip this section, let me at least try to convince you why it's important for you as a soccer player.
When you are watching professional soccer players in your TV, you probably don't think. You just enjoy the game. But here are two reasons why you should start to study them:
a) You can learn from the best - completely for free.
b) No matter what your position is - you can always learn something.
Even a small piece of knowledge that you gain from studying, might help you to get that edge over the defenders trying to stop you.
There are many pros that are actively studying their own tapes as well.
So to simply put it, If you want to become pro, I think it's important to analyze what are professionals doing, and how are they doing it.
Try to pay attention to where they move, where they look before receiving the ball and etc. over time, you will start to see certain patterns of behavior, which you can then replicate in your game.
If you never heard about habits, I highly recommend you to learn more about them.
A habit is basically an automated task that you are doing without thinking. For ex. when you wake up, you don't actually think about washing your teeth, you just go and do it. Or in the soccer game, when receiving a ball you don't actually think "now I'm going to turn behind me so I can see if there is anyone" - you just automatically do it.
And that's where the power of habits lies. Professionals have an amazing set of really good habits in place - that helps them to get an advantage. Habits are literally everywhere. Good or bad.
It's solely up to you to learn more about them and to use them in your advantage. But now, since you are aware of them, I highly recommend you to read a book by James Clear - it's really a game-changer. You can more about that book on his website by clicking here (not an affiliate link).
Push your game to the next level as a striker with new habits on, and off the pitch.
Many strikers tend to practice really useful tricks that they never use in an actual game.
The secret lies in fundamentals.
Let me ask you this: how many times would an amateur striker pass the ball precisely on 20 meters, out of 1,000 attempts? Maybe 820 times?
Now, what if the same exercise would be performed by a professional soccer player? Would he be precise around 940 times? You see, it's a small difference at the first glance, but these things compound and eventually might make, or break your game.
So instead of practicing useless things you never use, try to practice passing, dribbling, reaction, heading, and scoring actual goals. Fundamentals are very underrated. I had to learn this the hard way.
While this topic is very extensive, let me give you a few key points.
So basically your imagination is one of the most powerful tools that you can use, in order to prepare for the match. It is used by professional athletes, and every peak performance coach will recommend you this technique.
How it works is basically very simple. You're using the same parts of the brain to visualize the action, as performing it for real. So every single night, before a match, try to visualize yourself on the soccer field where you will be playing.
But here is one crucial thing - you shouldn't visualize from the third person. Try to visualize as you would be there from your own eyes.
When visualizing, try to include all your senses like smell, touch and etc. You can do that by observing the weather, the opposition, and your teammates - as if you would be actually playing the match. Now you can visualize certain situations that you will probably be in, like shooting, dribbling and scoring a goal.
When you finish, try to enforce positive feelings by imagining how your teammates are cheering for you, celebrating with you, how fans are shouting your name and etc.
Once you're done, you are prepared for when the time comes.
Even Nike created this short video with Lewandowsky:
It is incdrebily powerful technique - and often underestimated by others.
I'm not sure if you ever heard about the compound effect, but here's how it works in a nutshell:
All your decisions on a daily basis, no matter how small and insignificant they seem to be at the moment, will result in a certain situation a few months & years from now.
Have a look at this picture:
All small choices result in behavior, and behavior results in habits. And depending on what habits you built, you will either struggle or thrive in life.
Very good concept to keep in mind when doing decisions on a daily basis.
For example, imagine that after each training session, you will practice 10 free kicks. Every single day.
One week will pass, and you might see no results. But practice it for 6 months, and you will find yourself scoring goals from the free kicks in the match.
Again, it's an incredibly powerful tool to use.
If you want to learn more, read The Compound Effect book (not an affiliate link). On that link is brief summary, but I highly recommend reading the whole book.
You can score more goals by improving in shooting with both legs, heading, and working with free space. It's about learning how to be in the right place at the right time - and being prepared for the opportunity to score the goal. Also, you have to practice it all in the training.
You see, it's very simple to just say: "just be in the right place at the right time" right? Let me make it clear for you, this can come from experience and being consistent.
And let's be honest, not everybody was born with this natural striker instinct. But I have good news for you!
While you might struggle with scoring goals right now, doesn't mean you can't become a great striker in another season.
I experienced this by myself early in my career. Before my best season when I scored around 1 goal per match, I had 2 terrible seasons when I didn't know what's gonna happen.
You see, everybody experiences such a time. It's important though, that you keep working on yourself and that you don't beat yourself up.
Suggestion: Find out what are the best soccer cleats for strikers.
Soccer scouts look for strikers, that are scoring goals consistently. Also, it's important that you are a team player and help your team make the plays. Also, scouts tend to pay attention to your character a lot - so being a leader and optimist helps a lot.
While scoring goals is important, other skills are essential for you to be noticed by scouts.
Skills such as:
I think every striker has a chance to shine in front of the scouts with the skills mentioned above. And sometimes, it's not only statistics that get you noticed.
So I hope you enjoyed my complete guide for strikers in soccer and that you learned something new.
If you'll have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to contact me, and I'll be happy to give you a more detailed answer.
Good luck on your journey of becoming a better striker!