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Striker In Soccer: A Complete Guide

For anyone watching or playing soccer, some of the most exciting moments of the game are when the ball goes into the net. Frequently, the person who kicks the ball into the net plays in the striker position.

If you ask a group of soccer fans who the best striker is, it will be hard to get a consensus. However, there are famous strikers who have become household names, and they’ve done so by focusing on being able to score when it counts.

What is a striker in soccer? A striker is a player that dribbles past opponents, plays close to their opponent’s net, and can handle the ball with great accuracy. These players specialize in getting the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net, focusing on outscoring their opponent.

Place Within Formations

Soccer teams can arrange themselves in a variety of different formations, which are designed to tell players where they should more or less stay on the field. The numbers in these formations tell how the team has set up their defense, midfield, and forward positions. Therefore, strikers are included in the last number of the formation.

For example, in the 4-4-2 formation, there are four defensive players, four midfield players, and two forward players. One of those forward players is the striker. However, some formations have more players in the forward line, and in that case, there may be additional striker positions named in the lineup, such as the second striker.

Main Responsibilities

1. Score Goals

More than anything else, it is up to the striker to get the ball into the net. Other players are usually looking for opportunities to get the ball to the striker, since they’re likely the most skilled goal scorer on the team.

Skilled strikers can score from many different positions on the field, although they tend to play as close to the net as possible. Strikers also need to make shots on goal, whether they go in or not. 

This aggressive play will eventually lead to goals scored, and a striker needs to be able to take advantage of all opportunities. It’s crucial that the striker not be discouraged if shots don’t go in, since that will decrease their confidence later in the game.

2. Stay Open, Stay in Position, and Stay Onside

Since their teammates will no doubt be looking to pass them the ball, it is critical that a striker is always ready. That means that the striker needs to use their speed and field awareness to create open spaces, as well as not allow the defenders to draw them out of their zone.

They also need to be sure that the defenders aren’t setting them up in an offside trap. It’s devastating when a goal is made but has to be withdrawn because the player was ruled offside.

3. Stay in Control

There are two ways for a striker to gain the advantage and set themselves up to score. They can either outstrip their opponent by running faster than them and knocking the ball in on the go, or they can be confident and strong with their back to the net, which helps them create the space they need to turn and kick a goal.

Many strikers utilize fancy footwork and feints to confuse their opponent, which works in the same way as a crossover in basketball. Having that detailed control over the ball is going to make a striker much more effective.

4. Pass the Ball

The striker should use their speed and ball control to get open for a pass or to draw defenders away from their teammates, setting up an opportunity at the net. Additionally, it’s critical that the striker be skilled enough to read the field and understand if they should take the shot or pass the ball to a teammate in a better position.

When they’re making those passes, a striker must have a strong leg to get the ball across the field, as well as an accurate kick to make sure it doesn’t get stolen by the opposing team. So in addition to that close-up control mentioned above, a striker also needs to have ball control over long distances.

The Second Striker

The striker position is usually associated with the number nine jersey, and as such, the second striker is sometimes called the number 10 (known as the playmaker). These players are usually in somewhat of a free role, switching between receiving the ball from their teammates and attacking the opponent.

Of course, the second striker needs to be able to score themselves, should an opportunity arise.

General Body Type of a Striker

Powerful, tall players are suited for the striker position, as they can outmatch opponents with their speed and stride length in an effort to get to the goal. However, there have also been shorter strikers who have higher levels of agility than taller defenders.

The player’s height, of course, matters less than whether or not they can use whatever size they have to their advantage to get the ball into the net. They are also usually expected to be able to score from either foot, as well as being able to score in stride.

You can learn more about the body types of strikers in this post.

Tips to Being a Better Striker

1. Shoot as Much as Possible With Both Feet

Strikers need to get a feel for the field and understand, for example, how hard they need to kick the ball from a certain position to get it to the net. A striker also needs to know how different it feels to kick a ball while on the run instead of from a standstill. These sorts of things are learned through many, many repetitions.

In addition to shooting the ball, strikers need to practice receiving the ball from their teammates in a variety of positions. The first touch on the soccer ball can make or break a play, and effective first touches can move the ball into space, which can be the difference between scoring or not.

2. Learn to Juggle and Practice Footwork

Juggling a soccer ball is fun and is a way to impress friends and family, but it is also a good way to increase your control of the ball.

By practicing juggling, players gain a better awareness of how the ball feels and how it moves when it impacts a certain part of the foot or leg. While you won’t necessarily be doing tricks in the middle of a game, the skill of ball familiarity will directly translate to the field.

More than anything, the striker has to be comfortable moving the ball around when a defender is trying to stop them. Even if you as a striker could beat the defender in an all-out foot race, it won’t matter much if you can’t take the ball with you.

3. Use the Gas and the Brake

Everyone knows that all soccer players run a lot during a game, and strikers are no exception. But in addition to having a good cardiovascular base, a striker needs bursts of speed to either get into position or outstrip their opponent.

But they also need to know how to stop themselves and the ball. Being able to quickly change direction or stutter-step while running will make you a much more powerful weapon against the defensive players.

4. Study the Game

Sure, there is value in being out on the field and getting those reps in, but since a striker is one of the leaders of the team, he or she needs to understand the game on a macro and micro level, know their teammates, and understand their opponent’s weaknesses.

This will also help you recognize when defenders are trying to move you out of position or draw you offside. By watching your teammates play, you will also understand their strengths and know when it would be advantageous to pass them the ball instead of going for the score yourself.

For 20 more tips to become a better striker, check out this post.

Famous Strikers

There are too many great soccer strikers to name, but we’ve compiled a list of a few who we think really exemplify the skills and qualities needed to be a striker.


This Brazilian is synonymous with soccer, and he is one of the greats. Some consider him to be the best soccer player of all time, and he is listed by FIFA and the Guinness World Records as having the most career goals in soccer.

He was an elite dribbler and a powerful kicker, and he was able to balance his technical skill with a creative vision of the game and the stamina to outlast other players around him. That technical ability throughout the entire game is a hallmark of a great striker.

Thierry Henry

Since soccer positions are much more fluid than in other sports, Thierry Henry played on the wing for his first two teams but was moved back to the striker position when he transferred to Arsenal in 1999. 

However, in the early 2000s, Arsenal’s team formation was changed to a 4-5-1, so he played plenty of games as the only striker. Being able to hold your own as the lone forward player is a crucial element of a great striker, and it requires both mental focus and physical ability.

Henry was a formidable player who could both shoot from outside the penalty area and run up into the box to pressure the goalie and make the score. 

Alex Morgan

A staple on the US Women’s National Team since 2010, Alex Morgan shares the record for the number of goals scored by a single player in a single FIFA World Cup game. In 2019, she scored five goals against Thailand, matching Michelle Akers’ 1991 achievement.

Morgan has also set a speed record in women’s soccer, kicking a banger into the net in 12 seconds in the CONCACAF 2016 Olympic Qualifiers game against Ireland. It was also the fastest goal scored in the history of the US Women’s National Team.

Her aggressive style of play and field awareness led her to score quickly and often, which other strikers should also attempt to emulate. This style of play meant that in 2012, she joined the esteemed Mia Hamm as the only American woman to get 20 goals and 20 assists in a calendar year.

Harry Kane

In 2021, Kane smashed a 94-year-old record by scoring more than 12 goals for the England National Team in a calendar year. Dixie Dean scored 12 in 1927, and Kane went on to score 16 goals in one calendar year, just for good measure.

He is a prolific goal-scorer and has been effective throughout his time in the Premier League at putting points on the board. But Kane is a well-rounded player who can move throughout the field, control the ball, and play well on defense.

Kane is also very good at taking penalty kicks, which as England fans know, is an area where we need to strengthen our national team’s game.

Kylian Mbappe

This French player has been compared to both Pele and Thierry Henry. Some of the comparisons to Pele come from his agility and playing style, but they’re also statistical. Pele and Mbappe are the only two soccer players to score two goals in a World Cup match as teenagers.

He is strong in the center of the field, and from a speed perspective, Mbappe is devastating to defenders, outstripping them while controlling the ball as if it was attached to his body. He has no doubt done drill after drill to increase his skills, and at only 23 years old, Mbappe is one to watch if you’re looking to see how a striker develops over time.

Strikers are well-known in the soccer world because their primary function is to score goals, and most professional strikers are pretty good at their jobs. A striker combines their strength, ball control, and field awareness to consistently put the ball into the net and lead their team to victory.

I listed the greatest strikers of all time in this post.

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