One of the best things about soccer is that a player can find a position that best suits their skills. Some people might enjoy focusing on defense, while others want to create offense and score goals. Even people who are particularly great with their feet can still play as a goaltender.
How do a player choose soccer position? The best way to choose soccer position is to try out all the different positions and a young age. When a player is 13-14 years old, it makes sense to stick with one position and start working on skills specific for that position. It’s not impossible to switch positions, but starting early is the best way to go.
When To Choose Your Soccer Position
It makes the most sense to try to choose a favorite soccer position as early as possible. Players start developing specific skills for that part of the pitch, which can come in handy later on. There are countless cases of people playing soccer and changing positions, but there is always going to be that extra bit of edge for someone who has always played with a very specific focus.
More often than not, younger players will play a lot of different positions. The most skilled players have the opportunity to score goals, and that means they play as a midfielder or striker. However, there are only so many opportunities once a player moves up in the rankings, so those same players who score a ton of goals early on will transition to defense at times.
Skills Needed At Each Position
To pick a position, it makes the most sense to be skillful in those specific areas. While there is room for development at all times, it just makes sense to be as smart as possible when crafting a strategy. Some players have natural skills that help them at a specific position, so the best chance of moving up to the highest level possible starts there. This can work for not only coaches, but the players who are looking to get to the highest level possible.
- Most Important Attributes: Speed, Finishing, Ball Handling
Whether a player is a center forward, a striker, a winger, or other specific positions, forwards create offense on the pitch. Their main focus is either scoring goals themselves or setting up opportunities for others. They are the ones who get all the headlines because they score, and they are also put under a lot of pressure when teams are underperforming.
Forward stay mostly on offense at all times, unless a team decides to go into a specific defense to limit a team. Teams will have different formats that allow forwards to have opportunities to score, but there are other players on offense you can also put the ball in the back of the net.
Skills needed for being a forward include outstanding ball handling, excellent passing, shotmaking, and pinpoint execution. Forwards need to be extremely athletic to exploit mismatches and open up opportunities to score goals as well. They might not be running around as much as some other positions, but their top-end speed and quickness comes in handy.
- Most Important Attributes: Creativity, Ball Handling, Vision, Stamina, Passing
As the name implies, a midfielder serves as a pretty neutral player in the middle of the field for most of the match. They take on different roles throughout the match, which means that a player must be skilled enough to handle just about every position out there.
On defense, they are one of the first lines of defense to stop any attacks. If midfielders can control the middle of the field, it takes a lot of pressure off of the defense in general.
Turning defense into offense, midfielders serve a crucial role in getting the ball passed up into the attacking area. Sometimes, they are called upon to score goals, but they do a lot of dirty work as well. The ability to see forwards open and advance the ball creatively changes how a soccer team plays.
Different formats are going to ask a lot out of midfielders. They need to be able to cover a lot of ground regardless, but some teams really stretch them out. Having outstanding stamina is absolutely essential for this position, but they also need to be quick enough to keep up with the most talented players on the other team as well.
- Most Important Attributes: Strength, Passing, Communication, Tackling
Playing defense in soccer is a tough job for many, but many people will say that this is what wins championships in the end. A good line of defense makes every team that much better, and their ability to turn defense into scoring opportunities is under-appreciated as well.
Defenders do not have to be as physically gifted as players at the midfield and forward positions, but they need to be steady and capable of making the right reason decisions. They are the last line of defense before the ball gets to the goalkeeper, and they can’t be taking too many chances to open up easy scoring opportunities.
Defenders are usually a little stronger than other players on the field, which allows them to be slightly more physical. Defenders are not called upon to score many goals, but they do help out with throw-ins, corner kicks, and goal kicks.
Different names for defenders include center back, sweeper, fullback, and wing-back. Not all teams will use these positions, but they all have slightly different roles that make them special.
- Most Important Attributes: Reaction, Athleticism, Positioning
This is far and away the most unique position on the field. A goalkeeper is the last line of defense, and they are the only ones to have their own special rules. Goalkeepers can touch the ball with their hands if they want, and they are in charge of protecting the goal at all costs.
Goalkeepers are usually the tallest players on the pitch, and they also need to be extremely athletic. It is a position that does not require the same type of skills as other soccer players specifically, but there still need to have some basic instinct.
For example, goalkeepers need to be able to kick the ball well after making a stop, and they also need to position teammates at times when they are lining up for sets.
Many view the goalkeeper as the leader on the pitch for most teams. They provide a unique perspective that can help everyone out, and teams try to do what they can to assist them.
How Often Do Players Change Positions?
At youth level soccer play, it is fairly common to see players bounce around from position to position. Not only are players trying things out, but a coach might decide to fit a team a particular way.
By high school, most soccer players have figured out the position that makes the most sense for them. Maybe they were forced into a certain position based on their physical attributes and skills, while others do whatever is best for the team. It is not the end of the world if this is not the ultimate position for a player, but players looking to go beyond the high school level are trying to play positions that make the most sense.
At the professional level, players rarely change positions too much. They might change within the main grouping of positions, but even that is somewhat rare. So many players are looking to focus on a position to be at the very best. It makes more sense for players to put in the extra time and effort, instead of constantly switching. Everything is so calculated on the pitch these days that it makes more sense for many to stick with what they know.
Why Smart Decisions With Soccer Positions Matter
The last thing any soccer player wants to do is feel like they do not live up to their potential for something that is slightly out of their hands. For example, if a player feels like a position change is the best way for them to get a college scholarship, play professional, or reach any goals one might have, there needs to be a change as soon as possible. There is something to be said for doing what is best for a team, but getting reps at another position makes sense.
Ultimately, the sign of a great soccer team involves working cohesively for all 90 minutes. The best way to pull that off is with defined roles at every position, and players who know how to play off of each other. When that happens, that is what ultimately turns soccer into what many called the beautiful game.