Scoring goals, it is what the soccer is all about. We live for those exciting moments around the box when chances are created and players scramble to make a name for themselves. It is, of course, the strikers primary objective to score goals. Ultimately, that can be one of the most challenging things to do, especially when chances are missed or keepers are just playing out of their minds.
What exactly is it that makes a top-level striker? What are the steps you need to take in order to step up from being good to great? Here is our ultimate strikers guide to the galaxy that will hopefully give you new ideas for improving your game and have you back scoring goals before you know it!
1. Be Confident and Greedy
One really important mental piece that all strikers have is that they are greedy. Now, there are two types of greedy player and you have to get your mind-set on being the correct one. You don’t want to be the guy that your fellow players roll their eyes at as you look to take on the entire opposition without picking your head up once. That helps nobody, unless of course you are Lionel Messi. Instead, you need to be greedy to help your team win. That means doing whatever it takes to get the ball into the back of the net. In most instances, this will be your ability to score, your desire to get in the box and push your body to the limit against opposing players. You don’t give up on plays, you are always looking to find open spaces, putting yourself in the best position for other players to find you, giving them reason to play you the ball. Don’t be a striker that gives players an excuse not to cross. The worst comment you can get from a fellow player is “I didn’t see you there.” Be vocal and make smart runs that match the directions you are sharing.
And when the ball is crossed into the box, you do what it takes to get it into the net. The all important word is “clinical.” Make defenders sorry that they didn’t get closer to you, giving you the opportunity to get your strike on target.
But there is an important disclaimer that goes along with this. When an opportunity is not there, don’t force it. There is nothing more frustrating than a striker that tries to do it all himself, taking away any potential chances for other players around. Look to be a creator with a greedy streak to take chances that are there.
2. Practice, Rinse, Repeat
For some players, finding the target comes naturally. But even so, you can never get enough practice in front of the net. Whenever an opportunity presents itself to strike some shots, work on hitting side netting, bouncing balls, snap shots. The best strikers in the world put in extra work after practice to improve their game, even if they are scoring week in, week out. There is no excuse for resting on where you are at, waiting for success.
While playing with New England Revolution, I’d watch Taylor Twellman stay behind and strike 10 to 20 balls in quick succession, looking to hone in on contacting the sweet spot every time. He was, without a doubt, one of the most naturally gifted strikers of the ball I’ve ever seen play live. Yet he put in the time and effort to ensure he knew exactly what he needed to do when an opportunity presented itself. If needed, use a wall – that is exactly what I did growing up. Strike a shot, work on quick touches off the rebound, strike it again. Use chalk to mark a spot that you want to focus on hitting each time. Practice, rinse, repeat.
3. Have A Short Term Memory
There is no time for standing around thinking about what has just happened in the game. You need to be mentally strong in all situations, thick-skinned and always ready to focus on the now.
Have a short memory.
Score a wonder goal? Forget it and go score the next one.
Miss a sitter? Forget it and move on to the next play.
— Jeremy Horton (@espn700jeremy) May 8, 2018
There is no room for prima donnas in a successful team. Scoring goals is your ultimate objective, but sitting around reliving just how good that last goals was is going to leave you susceptible to mistakes. Keep your focus on that next chance. The same goes when you miss a glorious chance. If you let your imagination wonder, wondering what just happened, it can result in lack of discipline when the ball gets to your feet next time around. There is definite value in accessing what went wrong post game, in order to try figure out what you need to do differently in future matches. But it is more important to live in the present where you can make an immediate amends, live for that chip that now sits on your shoulder.
4. Keep It On Frame
No doubt you have heard it a million times from coaches, but the simple fact is you will never score if you don’t hit the target. Your mindset should always be to look at keeping the ball on frame, looking to shoot low and put pressure on keepers to have to make the save. It is often when you get tired that balls start to balloon over the bar, when your body leans back and you get way to far underneath the ball. You stop that by learning where you need to connect with the ball, closer to the center of the ball.
This goes along with the theme of being greedy; do you want to score or would you prefer the keeper looks like the better player? Get that into your mind as you line up a shot, this is your opportunity to take control of the game, your chance to put your name in lights.
5. And The Boots….
As much as people say that boots don’t make the player, having the right pair on feet can help elevate your confidence and desire to play better. It is like a sports car in rainy conditions; you can give it the best warm weather tires available but it will end up sliding around the track as it tries to speed up.
There are two types of striker; the big, burly, strong striker that likes to put his body in the way whenever possible. And then there is the quick, agile, busy striker that wants to be in the box latching onto any free ball. Lets break down both.
– Big and Strong –
For players that basically act as target men, something that provides comfort and stability is essential. You are going to get the most out of a more well-built boot that provides well-rounded performance. In the past, I would say look no further than boots with leather uppers that will mold most effectively with natural touch on the ball for ultimate control. A prime example to check out would be the Nike Tiempo Legend. But, the market has evolved and there are now many new style uppers that provide top performance. For strikers, the Puma FUTURE 18.1 and the adidas Predator18 series are two that are definitely worth considering.
– Fast and Agile –
If speed is your game, then lightweight boots are going to provide the most compatible performance for your game. Defenders need well-built boots so they can tackle you hard, it is their job. Pacey strikers need lightweight shoes to help you get away from defenders. Every bit of added acceleration is a bonus, being agile in all situations is key. Defending on your brand preference, you have options in the adidas X17 Purespeed, Nike Mercurial and Puma FUTURE series. Each boot is very different in style, but they are all intended to provide the same end goal. It is very important to research each if you are looking to select one.
Summing up, the keys to success as a striker: hustle, grind, be scrappy, work for your chances, always hit the target, be persistent, chase lost causes, make the defenders life as uncomfortable as possible and most importantly, don’t make the opposition keeper look good!
Do you have any other tips that would help the next generation of striker? If so, leave them in the comment section below!