The Key to a Striker’s Success
There are many strikers out there with fantastic technical ability, able to pick up the ball thirty yards from goal and strike a shot right into the top corner. These goals are absolutely fantastic but can you go and score thirty goals a season from these positions?
You may pick up a few a season, but if you’re a striker you should be looking for more than that, aiming to score as many goals as you possibly can.
And the only way you’re going to do that is by getting closer to the goal, trying to be in the right place, at the right time, when the ball falls in the penalty area.
A player who demonstrates this perfectly is Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani. Although he’s 34 years old he is still teaching the younger players in the league what good movement is. Time and time again he just seems to be in the right position at the right time.
But is that a fluke?
Is it luck that he manages to find himself where the ball falls, or does he have a great understanding of the movement required to get himself as many goals as possible?
For strikers, the main aim should be to score as many goals as possible, not just ten brilliantly technical goals in a season that everyone remembers, but as many as possible, no matter how ugly the finishes may be.
The striker’s job is to score goals and to do that the player has to make sure that their movement is very good.
We’re going to be taking a look at five areas that strikers can position themselves, giving them more chances of being in the right place, at the right time, for the chance to go and increase their goal tally.
Firstly, we’ll look at the blindside.
All strikers need to understand what the blindside is: the position to the side of the defender, outside of their range of vision. Defenders love to be in control, their aim is to keep the play predictable and keep all movement in front of them, where they can see it. If you move into the blindside, their job becomes a lot more difficult.
Defenders aim to position themselves so that they can see the attacker and where the ball is being played from. By moving to the side, slightly away from their field of vision, then you will be on the side of their body that they can’t see without turning.
If they turn to try and find you, their eye is off the ball, something which they don’t want to happen. If they are looking away from the ball, there are potential opportunities for other players to move into space, or the player in possession to have more time to pick their pass.
However, if they look at the ball for too long then you have a great opportunity. Being in the blindside causes confusion; does the defender keep their eye on the ball, or you?
Or do they do both, flicking between the two positions? Once you can see that they are out of position, looking the other way, this is when you make your run, moving in behind the defence as the ball is played to run ahead and take your opportunity.
Get it right and the defender is going to hate playing against you.
Next up is movement in behind the defender. So often players drop deep for the ball, allowing defenders to squeeze up behind them, reducing the space on the midfield area. Look to make runs in behind defenders as the ball is played over the top.
If you make the run and don’t get the ball then it’s still been worthwhile, causing the defence to drop deeper, giving your midfielders more time on the ball.
If you time your run correctly, and the ball is played over the top to you, then you have a chance to go through one on one with the keeper.
Mix up your movement, don’t just come short. Be happy to run in behind the defence, even if you may not get the ball. It keeps the defenders on their toes and gives them a difficult game.
We also want to make sure that as a striker you are keeping within the width of the penalty area as much as you can. Go too wide and you’re going to be out of position, making it very hard for you to get in the area when the ball is delivered. If the majority of your work is within the width of the area, then there is much more chance of you being in the right place at the right time. Start to move too wide, too far away from the goal and you’ll be finding it hard to increase that goal tally.
Get closer to the penalty area more regularly and you’ll score more goals.
Our final two areas that we’ll look at is movement in the box. So many times I’ve come across players, whether coaching, playing with them, or even watching them on television, and their movement in the box is almost non-existent.
It’s very rare for the ball to just fall to you. All strikers have to attack the area that the ball is being delivered into.
Firstly, we want to make sure that we are attacking the near post as much as possible. All it can take is a big toe to divert the ball past the goalkeeper, so as that ball is being crossed make a quick run to the near post, meeting the ball ahead of the defender to hopefully knock it out of the goalkeeper’s reach.
Do this regularly and you’ll score a lot of goals.
Strikers who wait for the ball to fall in the right spot for them won’t get as many goals as you.
We always want to make sure we have good movement, attacking the near post and aiming to get to the ball ahead of the defender. But we can also create space by sprinting and then suddenly stopping.
If your winger has got to the goal line, looking to play the ball into the box, make what looks like a quick dart to the goal. Defenders will be rushing back, protecting the goal first. Your movement can force them back to the goal but if you suddenly stop, space appears.
You’re then open for the cut back and hopefully a simple finish into the goal.
Movement is key; do these five things more regularly and you will definitely get more opportunities in front of goal.
Remember though, as a striker you want to score more goals for your team. The closer you get to the area, with better movement, the more opportunities you’ll have to find the back of the net.
Work on your technical ability and finishing, but don’t forget the movement side of the game. Develop good movement and it will help your game reach new heights, increasing the amount of goals you score and your importance to the team.
Be like 34-year old Edinson Cavani, desperate to get to the ball before anyone else.