Focus on controlling the ball out of the air with your entire body. You will have to be good at controlling the ball from the air, which means bringing the ball from the air to the ground smoothly. This is because a lot of the game for a forward comes from long balls and aerial crosses. You want your touch to end with the ball about a foot in front of you so that your next touch can immediately pass, shoot, or dribble.
Good ways to practice include: Juggling is a great way to practice full body touch, but only if you challenge yourself.
See how high you can get the ball and still maintain control. Hit long balls with a friend. Start about 20 yards away, and slowly get further and further. As you get better, pick up the speed between controlling and hitting the ball back. Hit against a wall, drilling shots or crosses at a hard surface and reacting quickly to trap the rebound. Practice challenging defenders one on one. You must be able to get around them without help from teammates.
Once you have the ball, you must be able to dribble around the defenders and to the goal by using a variety of "moves" such as the Maradona, the step-over, or the scissors. Some good dribble moves are shoulder feint and step over. Not all forwards need to play silky, technical soccer like Messi, but you need a few ways around a defender to make them step up and respect you instead of hanging back and waiting for you to pass.
Get a close friend or teammate and challenge them to 1v1 drills. Simply make a thin rectangle and alternate attacking and defending. Crossing the opposite end line with control of the ball is a "goal.
Set up a box and work on dribbling, cutting, and throwing moves at full speed, staying inside the box to work on control. Develop both feet into dangerous weapons of scoring. The infamous Arjen Robben aside, there are few dangerous forwards who can only use one foot. Feeling comfortable on both your left and right foot greatly expands your toolkit, as good defenders will punish you if you only have one side of the field to use. Whenever doing drills, do them with both feet, and spend extra time developing your shooting and passing skills on your "bad" foot.
It will never be as good as your dominant foot, but you'll give defenders fits if you can cut to the other direction and make a clean pass with your weak foot. Watch for the shot at all times, staying hungry for a goal. A forward's number-one goal is to put the ball on target. Even if they don't score, shooting on target creates corners, deflections, and rebounds that lead to goals and put defenses under pressure. Your mindset should always be to create the space needed to pull a shoot off for either you or your teammates.
Note that you want your team to shoot, not just you. Some forwards will get lots of direct chances, others will feed their partner forwards with good chances and take only a few themselves. Dart, weave, and sprint into open space to create defensive chaos.
A mobile striker is the most dangerous. Even if you don't get the ball every time, good forwards know that they need to keep the defense on their toes for 90 minutes, as this is when they make mistakes and reveal the sorts of gaps that create goals.
When your team has the ball, look up for the open space and make a run. Always be on a light jog, or on the balls of your toes, to get the jump on defenders when space opens up.
They'll be looking to close down space as you try to fill it. Keep your eye on your other forward s. Timing runs to weave and criss-cross with them will throw the defense for an enormous loop. Time your approach to crosses so that you hit them near full speed. If you're simply standing in the box, waiting for the ball to arrive, you're incredibly easy to mark up. Instead, time your runs so that you get to the ball as it is arriving, allowing you to cut it out before the ball reaches a defender and get a running start for any jumping header.
Keep your eye on the ball and reach it just as it becomes available to play and you'll win many more headers, volleys, and long balls. This is also the best strategy to avoid offside traps, letting you go from jogging to sprinting once the ball is played instead of trying to hit full speed from standing. Curling runs are great for making time and space.
Instead of sprinting into the box straight on, take a curving path as the ball is coming down the wings, then cut straight in once the ball is in the air. Your curling run lets you approach the box on the run while still letting you change directions quickly. Check to the ball instead of always running away from it. Checking means running towards the teammate with the ball, opening up space and making the pass shorter. This is particularly important when working with another striker, as the space you just ran away from is now open for him if your defender follows your check.
If you don't get the ball and a defender is on you still, keep moving. If you do get the ball, try to turn to face the goal -- greatly pressuring the defense. Always look over your shoulder quickly as you check. If you caught your defender sleeping you may have more time with the ball than you think.
Challenge the defense one on one when you have space to run. A striker can't be selfish, but they also can't be passive. You need to be able to run at a defender with the ball, throwing a move to beat him, sprinting around with a big touch, or sucking in the defense to make a last-second pass.
Great forwards force the defense to react to them, which creates space for the rest of your team. The best times to attack are when you have the defense in motion, particularly as they track backward. Go at them, forcing them to make a decision. They usually have little support, and a turnover is much easier to win back with the sideline to your advantage.
Don't take on defenders if you're near the half-field unless you're sure you can beat them -- a turnover here is particularly dangerous. Even if you lose the ball, no defender wants to be under pressure all game. They will start to break down and make mistakes. It only takes a 1 goal difference to win or lose a game, and you want that goal to be in your favor! Follow all shots and crosses into the goal.
This is especially important for younger players, as inexperienced defenders and goalies will make mistakes that lead to easy goals. When you or a teammate shoots, run after the ball towards goal, ready to quickly re-shoot any rebounds, deflections, or partial saves.
It is very, very difficult to clear the ball on defense when facing your own goal. Make this job even harder and you'll pick up a few easy goals a season. Come back to the midfield on defense, holding up the back defenders. Wait to receive the ball off a clearance or a punt. You're no good to your team on defense or offense if you just sit up top and wait. Come back to midfield to keep the defenders from settling the ball and playing easy crosses in without pressure.
Most importantly, be ready to check or sprint on counter-attacks. If the ball is being crossed or cleared, it is your job to hold onto possession until your team gets into offensive position. Tweak your strategy and runs depending on your team's offensive system.
Not all forwards can play with the same style. The biggest variable is how many other strikers you're playing with, as this greatly changes how you handle yourself. If you're the only one up top, you're going to want to stay high up on the defense, spreading the field for your team.
If there are three strikers, you're necessarily going to have to come back on defense at times. The high forward, used to hold onto the middle of the field and create space, is often called a center forward. They are big targets who hold up the ball and create offensive space for others. Wing forwards, or wingers are basically offensive outside midfielders.
They must be excellent one-on-one dribblers with great speed and crossing ability. Their goal is to get the ball to a striker in a dangerous position, making the striker your fastest ball-handler and shooter. Hold the space up field as far as the defense will allow. As the center striker, you need to create space for the rest of the team, so hold the off-sides line as deep as the defense will let you.
When you get the ball, try to turn to face the goal, but know that this isn't necessary; you simply want to hold the ball as your teammates sprint up to support you. Your goal is to suck the defense in, forcing them to play you so that they open up oodles of space along the wings.
This opens up space for both of you to each sideline, as well as for dangerous combination play in the middle. Control and direct the middle of the field quickly and efficiently. As a striker, you need to be looking for shots. Whether as part of a 2-person or 3-person system, striking forwards want to get the ball facing the goal whenever possible.
Strikers are trying to create just enough space to get a shot off, punishing the defense for lapses and laziness. Your bread and butter is going to be quick, one-touch passes and one-two combinations, or throwing a quick scissors and ripping a shot with space. Don't stand around with the ball -- keep it moving and always look for shots, making yard sprints through the defense for quick, slotted passes and shots. Shooting, even when you don't score, is useful.
As defenses feel shots coming from further out, they will push up to prevent you from shooting more often. This often opens up space behind them for through passes and crosses. Focus on quality crosses and dangerous diagonal runs in the winger position.
Attack the end line ruthlessly, driving down at defenders and forcing them to make tackles that lead to corners and deep throw-ins. Your goal is to get the ball down near the end line and then put it into the box, preferably as the defenders are running towards their own goal. Furthermore, keep your eye on the middle of the field. If the center defenders are getting lazy or seem to forget about you, a sharp diagonal run straight at goal will open you up for crosses, through balls, and shots.
As soon as your team wins the ball, get out as wide as possible. This will stretch the defense considerably, making tons of space for you and others. Depending on the team formation, a winger may be expected to play a lot more defense than most forwards.
When shooting for power, the toes should be pointing down and the laces of the foot used to powerfully propel the ball toward the opposition goal. When shooting for accuracy, use the side of your foot to contact the ball, with the follow-through pointing to the target.
Practice plenty of repetitions of both. A soccer striker must be able to lose defenders in short spaces to open up an opportunity to score a goal. Forwards should practice creating space by playing one-on-one, or two-on-one attacking drills. Use the yard area as the boundaries and practice running to near post or far post, as well as checking back to ball to lose a defender.
Shooting drills that involve plenty of repetitions ending in a shot on goal should be used regularly as part of a soccer training regime for a striker. Examples of drills a soccer striker can use include balls being rolled from the side of the penalty box with the striker taking a touch and releasing a shot on goal. Adding defensive pressure is a big help to soccer training for a striker. Defensive pressure allows you to develop a feel for when to shoot early or when to take your first touch away from the defender.
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