Thinking of the position to play in soccer is, for most people, a big decision to make. It is mainly a tasking decision for people who are new to soccer. Choosing a position to play in soccer usually affects a soccer player’s experience.
When you play in a position that does not suit you or your personality, your love for soccer might dwindle. With the diverse nature of soccer, every position requires that every player have strength, athleticism, speed, and agility.
Apart from the goalkeeper, pretty much every player needs to run around the pitch for about 90 minutes. Statistics have shown that professional soccer players run an average of seven miles in every soccer game.
Though soccer is a fast-paced game and every player needs to run, every position has its own unique characteristics. If you are starting out as a soccer player, this post should help you to decide the best position for you.
- What soccer position should I play?
- Goalkeeper (GK)
What soccer position should I play?
Soccer positions include the forward (winger, second striker, center forward), midfielder (wide midfielder, center midfielder, attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder), defender (sweeper, wing-back, full-back, and center-back), and lastly, the goalkeeper.
Choosing a soccer position to play requires lots of considerations including the physical requirements of each position, your preference, and your strengths.
There are many players who have never played a single position, but as the years went by, they constantly improved to be good players in their current position.
To choose what position you should play in soccer, you have to know the position that you like. Take for instance, you want to score goals which of course everyone does, but then, everyone would have been a striker or forward if that was the only criteria.
Choosing a position should go beyond scoring a goal as a striker or forward. Every soccer player has a personal preference. For a player who likes to tackle and win the ball, being a defender would be a good option for such a person.
Being a midfielder would be a great option for other players who like to keep the ball on their feet and in control and love passing to teammates or making assists to other teammates.
To choose the best position that suits you, you need to have a favorite player. The need for having a favorite player is because what you admire about that player is the positions he or she plays in and how well he or she plays the position.
Steering clear off positions that you dislike is another way of selecting what position best suits you. For example, you could dislike running, or goalkeeping or sticking too close to players to win balls, and so on.
Alternatively, you could get to try various positions, as with most soccer players, before finding the proper position that suits you.
Players can end up playing in positions that they once disliked after giving it a try. Therefore, you need to open up your mind and try out other positions that you have not played before.
Another factor to consider before choosing the position that you should play in soccer is to know your attributes. You might not like to play in a position but might have the features to play in that position.
It would be interesting to note that some soccer players don’t necessarily play the soccer position that they would have loved during the start of their career. However, it was the position that best-suited their physical attributes.
Using your strengths to your favor is an essential factor in the game of soccer.
Your position and your playing style should be determined by your attributes. For example, in soccer, each position has its own mental and physical needs that are expected of the player in that position. Therefore, you would only perform best in your chosen positions when you fit the bill.
Having a dream of becoming like Cristiano Ronaldo and working towards it is good, but you need to have the right attributes for playing in that position.
Depending on your team tactics and coach, you may have to adapt to different positions. You might choose a position today, but that might change later on as you develop or as the team tactics change with the coach.
Now that we have established factors that are needed for a soccer position, let’s zoom in on the different positions in soccer.
In the next section, the emphasis would be on the traits, characteristics, hobby, physique, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each position.
Forwards, also called strikers, are soccer players whose aim is to score goals for their team. Therefore, forwards are the soccer players with the most attention since they score goals that in most cases, determine the outcome of the match.
Forwards are not expected to get closer to their own goal since the defenders/midfielders can defend their own half. However, forwards stay close to the midfield so they can receive the ball and score when counter attacks occur.
There are exceptions like when the team is under serious attack from the opponent and is determined to keep their lead. Forwards can come back to defend.
A good example of a great striker that also performed well in the defensive line when needed was Didier Drogba.
As a forward, you need great strength and good ball control. Forwards love attacking, are strong and agile. Being a forward might be for you if you have these attributes.
Forwards kick-start the beginning of the game and at halftime. Strikers do not run as much as other soccer players since they have to be fit throughout the game.
The midfielders do the running, while strikers or forwards take every chance they get on the goal.
There is no physical archetype for strikers since teams base their playing style on the type of striker they have. For example, for tall strikers, the tactic of the team would be crossing as much as possible so the striker could win air duels against defenders.
On the technical aspect, it is essential that their finishing is good with precise and powerful shots.
Forwards are needed to score from any position available. However, some strikers are usually selfish when it comes to goal scoring. Some are not willing to make passes for other teammates with better opportunities to score.
This can be perceived as a weakness of forwards. Forwards are of various types. They include;
1. Winger (W)
Wingers are forwards that either play on the left or right side of the pitch close to the touchline. Such forwards dribble past the fullbacks of the opponents and pass to strikers. Certain narrow formations do not make use of wingers.
2. Strikers (S)
Strikers are the players that are positioned closest to their opponent’s goal. They are placed at the front of forwards. Strikers are the players expected to score the most goals.
They are often at the receiving end of passes from their teammates. As a result, they take on the pressure from the opponent’s defense. If you want to be a striker, you need to be fast to outrun defenders and have excellent ball control.
Strikers also apply pressure to the opposition to dispossess them of the ball. This increases the defender’s chances of making a mistake.
3. Second Striker (SS)
Second strikers are also called support strikers and are positioned between the midfielder and traditional forwards. However, they are not always used in every game.
Second strikers often block the ball from their opponents while ensuring that they are held off till their opponents can get positioned for good shots.
Their responsibility includes scoring goals and creating chances for center forwards.
4. Center Forward (CF)
Also called the central striker, their primary responsibility is to score goals. They are the focus of every offensive play.
Center forwards tend to be the only player attacking the goal in defensive formations.
If you are balanced between offense and defense, then the midfield is a position that you should consider. Midfielders usually play various roles in the pitch.
Midfielders assist the defenders in ensuring that the opposing team does not get to their own goal. They also make a lot of passes up to the forwards for scoring opportunities and also move up the pitch for any chance to score.
For most parts, midfielders are usually seen in the central area of the pitch behind the forwards. However, they typically cover from the midfield to the opposing team’s goal line when a game is underway.
The strengths of the midfielders include their passing ability that kick starts attacks and their ability to maintain ball possession.
Some of the weaknesses a midfielder can have include lack of speed for central midfielders and lack of balance for the wingers.
Midfielders are not meant to be selfish since their aim is to pass the ball and not to score, except the chance creates itself.
There are various midfielder positions including;
1. Central Midfielder (CMF)
The central midfield is for players who want to be at the center of every game’s action. As a central midfielder, you should be able to play offensively and defensively. You need to be very fit if you want to play this position since you would need to run a lot.
Central midfielders are on the center of the pitch. Therefore, they have reasonable control of the game’s flow with a good view of every part of the pitch.
2. Attacking Midfielder (AMF)
For this role, you need to be able to play offensively between the forwards and the central midfielders.
The attacking midfielders include the central, left, and right midfielders, with the responsibility of creating opportunities by passing through the defense of the opponents.
3. Defensive Midfielder (DMF)
If you are good at defending and at covering up holes in your team, then this position might be a good choice for you. Defensive midfielders usually position themselves right after the defenders. When their team goes on the attack, they typically stay back to defend.
Defensive midfielders also tackle and drive off potential opposition to the side of the pitch. They also cover for other midfielders and defenders.
4. Wide Midfielders (Right/Left Midfielder LMF/RMF)
Like wingers, they can play in the right or the left midfield. Wide midfielders give protection to their team from the flank. They also provide support to their team during offensive plays.
To be a Wide midfielder, you need to be good in your one-on-one skill since it would enable you to beat the opponent’s right fullbacks, left fullbacks, or wingers.
Defenders are the last players before any opposing attacker or striker can get to the goalkeeper. They are the last line of defense before the goalkeeper.
Having a good physical quality or attribute or being physically imposing is an excellent factor to being a defender.
Defensive positions are perfect for people who enjoy stooping strikers or attackers and don’t necessarily dribble or shoot. Defenders ensure that the ball does not get to their goalkeeper.
Defenders are skilled at various types of tackling: the sliding tackle, the block, and the jockey. Defenders that tackle badly or have lousy timing risk being sent out of the pitch due to cards or letting the opponents through, and even give the opponents a penalty.
Though some defenders are not good at dribbling and shooting, Dani Alves of Barcelona is good at it and is called an attacking defender. When there are no sweepers, the defenders are the last players to stop opponents from scoring goals.
Defenders are placed close to their own goal immediately after the goalkeeper. They are usually found around their team’s half when the game starts (between the midline and their goal line).
Defenders sometimes perform corner kicks, goal kicks, and throw-ins from their own half.
Defenders need speed, aggressiveness, concentration, decisiveness, and the ability to pull the team together.
These factors are significant for any defender. If you possess some or all of these qualities, then you might need to try becoming a defender.
Like other soccer positions, the defensive positions have various specializations. They include;
1. The Center-back (CB)
Also called the central defenders, the stopper or center back prevents the opponent forwards from taking shots at the goal.
In formations like the 4–4–2, two center backs would hold the defense covering a specific part of the pitch or marking a particular player.
2. Sweeper (SW)
Modern soccer doesn’t make use of sweepers as compared to the past. Instead, most coaches focus on using four defenders instead of using a sweeper.
However, a sweeper usually assists the goalkeeper by being the last line of the defense before the ball gets to the goalkeeper.
Sweepers are positioned in front of the goalkeeper just behind the defenders. They sometimes stay on their own goal line but never go beyond the midfield line.
3. Full-back (Left Fullback or Right Fullback)
Fullbacks are usually placed either at the right or at the left end of their own goal, giving birth to the right and left fullbacks in soccer. To be a good fullback, you have to be able to defend the opposition’s wingers coming through the sideline.
As a fullback, you would sometimes be needed to assist the center back when necessary. Fullbacks are not expected to support any attacking play. They remain in their position of defense.
4. Wing-Back (WB, LWB, RWB)
Like other defending positions, they defend their position by covering more width in the pitch. However, they are more often than not involved in offensive plays. This occurs especially when the team’s formation lacks a traditional winger.
Wingers often support their midfield teammates when their team is on the attack while also defending against the opponent’s wingers.
Wing backs run up and down the pitch while playing wide, right, and left. If you have a lot of stamina, consider being a wing-back.
Goalkeepers are the only soccer players allowed to touch the ball with their hands during a soccer game. This also comes with a lot of restrictions since they are unable to make use of their hands outside their 18 yards box (penalty area).
Goalkeepers outside their penalty box can only function as regular players. Goalkeepers cannot use their hands even when the ball is passed to them by a teammate during a throw-in or during gameplay.
To play in the position of a goalkeeper, you need to have quick reflexes and be agile. Though goalkeepers do not need to be the best technically, they should be able to make use of their feet properly.
A general characteristic of goalkeepers is that they are usually tall, though not a compulsory trait.
On the mental aspect, you need to be mentally strong as other players. Goalkeepers should keep mistakes to a minimum since any error can result in a goal scoring opportunity for the opponent.
Goalkeepers are able to see the entire pitch from their position. Therefore they should be able to lead their teammates by giving proper instructions.
You should be able to stretch and jump whenever the occasion calls for it (crosses and shots). One major weakness of goalkeepers is their ball-control skill which is not often practiced like other players.
In soccer, most positions can be determined based on their physical capabilities. In every soccer elite team, individual soccer players usually perform based on their strengths and positions, therefore contributing to the team’s overall success.
Knowing the necessities and responsibilities of every soccer position is vital in playing soccer. Soccer teams cannot perform their due obligation when the players are unable to perform to the best of their position.
If you pick the wrong position, it might be detrimental to your soccer experience.
Though the process of choosing the soccer position to play for can be an arduous one, getting acquainted with the various roles and responsibilities of each position would guide you on the way.
If you are undecided, try out the various positions and see the one that impacts you the most.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
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!