Fri 6th Jul 2018 - 05:28pm
Written by Michael Robson
Reading time
7mins
Goal scorer celebrating

The strikers and attackers are the match winners. They are the players the coach turns to, to win the game, which is why the striker (9), wingers (7 and 11), and attacking midfielders;(10), are arguably the most important players in a football team.

So, what traits make a great striker? What should a young player work on to enhance their overall value to a coach?

Without a doubt, confidence is the key. We see it time and time again. When a player's confidence is down they stop scoring, but when a player's confidence is up the goals are plentiful.

1. Confidence without arrogance

Henry Ford quote

Henry Ford put it very succinctly, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right”. If a striker thinks they can score, then they’ll go for it and, more often then not, score. If they think they can’t do it then they may pass up the chance, or shoot without conviction and miss. Either way, they will be right.

Self-belief is critical in a striker. Sir Alex Ferguson said in his book that David Beckham had the biggest self-belief or any player. Even when he had a bad game he still thought he'd played beautifully.

Negative self-talk is the most destructive thing a striker can do. I have watched many a player abuse themselves only to see their performance worsen. It is very, very difficult to pull yourself up when you're the one beating yourself up. I love watching Luiz Suares; even when he misses a sitter he will often come away with a broad smile, only to come back with something brilliant in the next five minutes.

How do you build confidence? Confidence comes with practice. The more practice and drills a player does, the more their confidence grows. Why? Because they see the repetition of the ball going into the back of the net. It becomes second nature. They do not have to think. The practice builds Myelin thus practice makes scoring goals instinctive.

As an example, Golden Boot player, Pat, had not scored a goal in over two years. Prior to going over to the US to play college football, he decided to get serious. He undertook intensive practice which saw him score in his first game. His confidence went through the roof and Pat went on to score six goals and five goal assists in his next six games.

Female soccer player volleying a ball, showing great touch

2. Touch

The ability to control a football,or 'touch', is the most important skill for a striker to possess. Control of the football in a tight situation is often the difference between getting an opportunity to score a goal or not even having the chance. There are lots of touch points that must be practiced.

One of the players most renowned for their touch was Zinedine Zidane.

Touch is developed over time and, when it's done correctly, is magic to watch - you often hear TV commentators admire, "Oh what great touch by Zidance, or by Ronaldinho, or Messi."

Thanks to Daniel Coyle’s research and his book titled “The Talent Code", we now know that practice must be deliberate.It must be done slowly at first, as slow as possible to make the execution permanently good. So, in essence, a soccer player wanting to become the best soccer player that they can be needs to develop their touch with:

  • Inside of the Foot
  • Laces
  • Outside of the foot
  • Chest
  • Thigh
  • Head
  • Shoulder (yes, shoulder, the best of the best often use their shoulder)
  • Using a “Soft foot” - bringing down a high ball. This is a critical skill and often not practiced or even coached
  • Hard balls – a ball fired at you, hard, at close range
  • Touch is even involved when running the ball at speed – in a straight line

Touch is like fitness, if you don't do it, you lose it. With fitness, you lose 10% per week without exercise, and touch is no different. An obvious example is a player's touch at the start of the season compared with their touch at the end of the season - it always improves.

3. Speed

Speed is one of the best weapons of a striker, making it a key trait. It is not just the ability to run fast either. Asoccer player needs what I term "Football Speed" which is a combination of the following speed elements:

  1. Ability to run fast
  2. Explosive speed – the ability to get up to maximum speed quickly.
  3. The speed of feet - the ability to move one’s feet fast during the execution of moves.
  4. The speed of thought – Perception,Decision,Execution (PDE- the ability to quickly perceive the situation and then quickly make a decision and execute it).
  5. Explosive fast Mobility runs – which is a combination of some of the above and an understanding of when and where to make the run.

Points one and two above are critical and can be trained by sprint running specialists, however, it's important to note that sprinting for soccer is vastly different to sprinting for track - so make sure you speak with people who understand the difference. At Golden Boot Striker School we have personal experience with speed and agility training Academy, ASSA - and we'd recommend the academy run by Kip and Ranell Hobson.

4. Shot Accuracy

Shot accuracy is a combination of technique and deliberate practice. Concentrated, focused, deliberate practice Consistently undertaken. There is no quick fix with this one. Weekly training with 30 - 50 shots on goal building on shot accuracy leads to success.

This is critical, and the results can be seen in the Premier League.

Club

Shots

Goals

Conversion %

Manchester City

206

40

19%

Manchester United

188

28

15%

Liverpool

236

25

11%

Chelsea

173

24

14%

Arsenal

198

22

11%

Tottenham

229

21

9%

As at 26th November 2017

 

 

 

 

Club

Shots

Goals

Conversion %

Manchester City

428

70

16%

Liverpool

430

54

13%

Manchester United

347

49

14%

Tottenham

422

47

11%

Arsenal

409

45

11%

Chelsea

393

45

11%

As at 27th January 2018

 

 

 

Liverpool has the highest shot count but a poor conversion rate of only 11%. If they had the same conversion rate as Manchester city they would have scored 44 goals.

It is interesting to note that 2 months later, Manchester City's conversion rate reduced by 3% and Liverpool has increased by 2%

5. Football Moves

While moves are not as common in a game as you might expect, they are key to a players confidence. A player should have their favourite move. A move must be permanent i.e. it can be executed nearly perfectly every single time, on demand and at super speed.

Wingers will require different moves from those playing centrally, determining whether to take your defender down the line, or to cut inside relies on perception, decision and execution, whilst the sneaky "chip" should be included in any great striker's repertoire.

Positioning

Knowing where to place yourself on the field and having an awareness of space is critical for strikers. While width is a striker's friend, mobility runs is a striker's best-attacking weapon. Playing with defenders i.e. constantly moving between them, moving between the lines and operating in the channels can switch defenders and confuse them as to who is supposed to be making you. Whilst an effective ploy, this is also a striker's version of fun - it can be awesome to watch a great striker at work.

In conclusion:

To be a great striker is great fun. The adrenaline rush when you score is fantastic. To become a great striker takes effort. According to Daniel Coyle “The Talent Code", there is no such thing as talent, there is only hard work and effort with the right attitude. Deliberate deep practice is a must.

This reminded me of Conor McGregor’s Quote – he may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he knows what it takes to be a winner.

Conor McGregor quote

Want to learn more?

Contact us here

Golden Boot Striker School provides elite soccer coaching specifically for strikers and attackers; designed to improve shooting accuracy, attacking skills and moves and a player’s confidence. Our C Licence qualified coaches deliver measurable results via specific striker drills and deliberate practice using a proved soccer training program.

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