Every player on the soccer pitch has a specific role to play and no role is superior to the other. However, an exceptional player in one role can increase the team’s chances of winning.
The 11 players on the pitch normally consist of the goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards. All these players with their respective skills work together to achieve desired success—winning their opponent.
Center forward players are usually known for their active nature and readiness to lead their team to victory. They play in the front field where the most opportunities for producing goals are rampant.
Inasmuch as center forwards are saddled with the duty of scoring or creating goal-scoring opportunities for their team, they cannot do it without their team.
However, when the team continues to give good passes to the center forward and he or she fails to score, other players in other roles may start to step up to score rather than pass the ball to the center forward.
The center forward position’s main focus is creating goal-scoring opportunities. To do this, they have to use a combination of skills—and this is what differentiates a good center forward from a mediocre.
In this article, we highlighted everything you need to consider on your journey to becoming a renowned center forward and how to improve the required skills.
What makes a good center forward in soccer?
Although all positions in soccer are vital, playing the role of a center forward comes with the burden of scoring goals.
This role involves a lot of focus and the players need to carefully calculate and utilize every chance that comes their way. It is not surprising that center forwards have dominated the best players in the world throughout the history of the game.
Good center forwards need to be creative, self-confident, possess good vision, have excellent ball control, work well under pressure, have great communication skills, and also have adequate speed. All these skills help center forward players to lead their teams to victory.
When teams are playing a defensive game, the center forward players usually position themselves near the midfield line so they can pounce on counterattack opportunities and surprise the attacking team. This is one of the reasons why speed is a crucial skill for center forwards.
Center forward players are not only expected to score most of the goals during a match but also position themselves at strategic positions on the pitch to provide support in case of a cross or a rebound during a match.
To become a good center forward player, you need to possess some attributes and skills. Below are some of the skills every good center forward should possess.
Oftentimes, the first touch is what distinguishes a good center forward player from an amateur. A precise first touch on the ball enables center forward players to bring the ball under his/her control and decide the next move to beat their marker.
A first touch can be with the head, shoulder, chest, thigh, inside and outside of the foot, or the laces. Depending on the next line of action, a good first touch will either ‘kill’ the ball or set it in motion at a different speed in another direction.
For example, a good first touch allows you to set the ball on your dominant foot if you plan to take a shot after receiving the ball.
A good first touch is not a fluke. It is a conscious action that can be honed through constant practice.
Players must engage in practices that improve their ariel and ground ball controls. As a center forward, you will make less progress if you don’t have a good first touch because your teammates will likely pass the ball to you from awkward angles and you will have to bring it under control for a chance to score.
Being able to accurately shoot balls into the net from different angles even in difficult situations and also avoiding fouls and off-sides while doing that is an attribute of a good center-forward player.
To score goals, a center forward should be able to jump high enough to contest for aerial balls with the defenders. Also, the player should be physically fit so that the defenders will not easily muscle them out of the ball.
Another important attribute of center forward is the ability to position properly so that their teammates can easily find them and pass the ball to them. Soccer fans and teammates always look up to center forwards to score goals.
Center forwards often become depressed during a long goal drought. It is not surprising that a center forward that is unable to score goals is either sold or loaned by the team.
Working under pressure
A center forward player should be able to perform well under any circumstance.
Due to their position in the field, they always receive passes in the opponent area where defenders might be struggling to retrieve balls from them—but they should never lose the ball.
Every team needs a center forward that can hold the ball without losing possession until help arrives from teammates. To achieve this, the center forward needs to be good at dribbling.
As a center forward player, you need technical skills like excellent ball control, high shooting and passing accuracy, and good dribbling skills. With these skills, even when you are unable to score goals, you will be able to give assists to your teammates.
If you are a good dribbler, you are at a high advantage over your opponents as you can dribble past them even when under pressure and create goal-scoring opportunities—or score some yourself.
Speed and endurance
Center forward is one of the positions that need really fast players. Speed when applied properly gives players an advantage over their opponent.
Remember, it’s not all about running fast, it’s about knowing when and how to use your speed and also being able to combine it with different skills. For instance, being able to change your direction speedily.
However, you need to develop your stamina and endurance alongside your speed. This is because the faster you run, the faster you will get tired.
Even if you are the best center forward and you can not last up to at least 45 minutes on the field without collapsing, the coach will pick an average center forward that can last 90 minutes.
Being a good center forward player requires you to always make intelligent decisions out of many options. You mustn’t always play forward and try to score goals, especially when the opposition team is using man-marking on you.
Even when you have all the skills we have mentioned, you must use your initiative to know the right time to apply each skill. For example, let’s consider a scenario where a center forward has good dribbling skills and is one-on-one with the last defender.
If the center forward sees another teammate that is totally free and has only the goalkeeper to beat, he or she should be able to pass the ball to the free teammate rather than trying to beat the defender and score. In other words, a selfish player will hardly make a good center forward.
Every position in soccer requires teamwork to succeed. You will rarely make a good center forward if you don’t try to build a good relationship with the rest of the team.
Center forwards will not play their role effectively if they don’t get good passes from the midfielders and the defenders. That is why a good center forward must maintain a good relationship with every other member of the team.
A team that works together will always outshine a team where every player is playing a solo, selfish game. It is easy to get carried away and want to take the glory of your goals. However, you have to look back and think about how the rest of the team made it possible.
How to be a good center forward in soccer?
Becoming a good center-forward player requires the acquisition of numerous skills. This position is very sensitive and either leads a team to victory if properly managed or makes them lose the match if misused.
To acquire most of the above-listed skills, you need to carry out some drills. Below are drills that will help you to become a good center forward.
Center forward players ought to have fast feet, this will enable them to maneuver defenders and opposition players easily. Speed drills must be practiced frequently, putting into consideration numerous aspects such as acceleration, stride frequency, speed, and stride length.
Before starting this drill, perform a thorough warm-up. You can jog for 6 to 10 minutes, then perform stretches for your ankles, trunk, neck, shoulders, head, and hips.
Maintain a proper posture by keeping your arms, hands, and shoulders relaxed, your elbows should be at an angle of 90 degrees, and do not bend forward at your waist.
Perform a high-step walk and lift your knees to your hip side for 10 steps, then do a high-step jog and also lift your knees to your hip side, do this 10 times.
Perform runs for 5 reps, covering a total distance of 80 meters. Walk back and ensure you rest for about 5 minutes after each rep.
Perform another 5 reps covering a distance of 90 meters.
Perform another 5 reps covering a distance of 100 meters. Ensure to take a 5 minutes rest after each rep.
Perform a flying sprint for 3 reps covering a distance of 50 meters. Take another rest after this and cool down with a 10-minute jog and body stretch.
Goals can be scored through heading and center forward players are sometimes faced with this opportunity, regardless of their height.
One of the best-known center forward players in history, Harry Kane, has scored most of his goals by heading balls into the net.
Team players should stand opposite each other in pairs.
Player 1 throws the ball to player 2, player 2 heads the ball into player 1’s hands.
The players repeat step 2 ten times and then swap positions and do the same drill ten times. Players should focus more on heading the ball into their partner’s hands.
Long ball pass and control drill
Well-coordinated passes as well as excellent ball control, are essential in soccer. This drill enables players to practice and learn long passes and excellent ball control techniques. A skilled center forward player can score goals with very few touches.
Set up two 3×3 yard squares opposite each other, 15 yards apart.
Two players should stand on either side of the square (behind).
Player 1 passes the ball to player 2 then player 2 must control the ball right into the square with just one touch, if the player does this successfully, a point is awarded.
Player 2 passes the ball to player 1 who also controls the ball into the square with a single touch. Passes can be made along the floor or in the air.
This is arguably one of the most important drills every player that aspires to be a good center forward must incorporate into their routine. Center forwards are rated by the number of goals they score each season.
Shooting drills go beyond just placing the ball on a spot and trying to hit the target.
However, you can use that as your starting point. Once you are good with that, you can advance to the higher level of shooting drill which involves getting around the defender to score.
This drill is called the stationary shot drill and you start by putting the ball on the Pk spot.
Take a few steps back and just lace the ball right down the center of the goal.
Try kicking the ball 10 times to the right corner of the goal and 10 times to the left corner. Take five shots each with both of your feet instead of just your strongest foot.
In the next step, you are required to take one shot to the top right and left corners of the goal post and do the same for the bottom right and left corners. Try hitting all four spots using your right and left foot simultaneously.
Soccer is a beautiful game where the division of labor is adequately utilized. Every player in a team has a role to play and they work hard to effectively fill that role during matches.
All roles are important but some are more demanding than others because of the higher expectations from the fans. The center forward role is very technical, which is why they require adequate focus, dedication, among other skills.
Being a center-forward player entails that the burden of scoring most goals is saddled on you. Even when you don’t get the chance to put your name on the score sheet, try your best to create chances for the wingers and midfielders.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!