At some point players begin focusing on a particular position. The better the training done according to the specific requirements of that position the more it will help the player excel. Coaches at youth, college and professional levels typically look for players to fill a specific position. Let’s keep in mind that coaches and scouts may look for more detailed qualities that fit their team’s particular style of play. For example do they prefer a striker that is good in the air for crossing or a player that has great speed to get behind the opponents back line? Each coach has a vision of his team and what qualities he would like to see in each position. The right blend of players with the unique qualities in each position to fit the teams style of play can make a team very successful. Im not sure the team below has the right blend of players (probably lacking enough defensive qualities) but they would likely score a lot of goals and sure would be fun to watch!
What position should I play?
Great question! Of course the hope is that the player finds themselves in a position they are passionate about. This is not always the case. I absolutely loved to score goals and did so up to collegiate level and even a few as a professional. But, as the level of talent rose from college to pro it became more challenging to score at the same rate. I adapted to the midfield role and eventually defense. I was content to be anywhere on the pitch as long as I was playing at a good level. The point is, I had to learn the role of defender because it takes different mental, physical, tactical and technical abilities than a goalscorer. I trained differently than I would as a forward. Don’t get me wrong. There are general skills that every footballer must train. But, each position has unique and specific qualities needed to perform at the optimal level. This is where knowing the detailed profile of the position they play can really help focus on the areas where improvement is needed.
How to master your position?
A student of the game will discover the specific qualities needed to play a certain position. This “student” thing is SO important. The player should seek to continually be learning the details of the game. The player should be proactive in their own development. In the U.S. this can be a bit more challenging compared to traditional American sports that dominate headlines, conversations and are passed on from parents to children. You may not be sure what the requirements are. Ask the coach or a mentor for guidance. By doing so, it will help get accurate information and aid in maximizing the players abilities in position specific training. In general terms, we know a goalkeeper needs specific training to develop the skills needed to keep the opponent from scoring. It is true that a forward needs the qualities that score goals. A winger may be expected to provide good crosses. A center back will not need the ability to provide quality crosses as much as he will need the ability to defend them.
Every position must play both sides of the ball.
Let’s look at defending. All 11 players help the team defend. An important question becomes what is that particular position’s defensive responsibilities? What is the teams objective in defending and how does that position defend within the teams style so they are not just doing their own thing in isolation and making the job more difficult for teammates? The player should know what actions to make in Attacking, Defending and Transition moments. If a player can improve the specific abilities that are required in their position and by their team then they will improve their game. Their soccer IQ will be higher and the team will have greater chance of success. A great resource for coaches and players is a book by Gary Curneen called, “Position-Specific Training“.
With the the current need to “stay at home” due to Covid-19 it could be a good time to look a the individual qualities needed for each position. Stay tuned for upcoming articles that will tell you what it takes to play each position. In the mean time keep kicking!