Strikers - coping with tight marking

Exceptionally talented strikers are expected to score at the rate of at least one goal for every two games played. The demands of the modern game require forwards to involve themselves in all phases of a team's attacking play, not just goal-scoring, and those responsibilities include:

  • Scoring goals.
  • Be assist players by providing the final passes for a goal-scoring team-mate.
  • Be able to link the play by receiving and holding the ball, where appropriate, before distributing it accurately to team-mates.
  • Move opponents from good defending positions to allow team-mates to benefit from the openings created.
  • Fixing defenders or attracting defenders attention and positions to the advantage of team-mates.
  • Being the first defensive problem for opponents.

Knowing how to function within 30 yards of goal is a key element in any forward's play. By functioning I refer to the individual tactical movements and skills that enable forwards to increase their own and others goal-scoring possibilities.

As well as goal-scoring skills, a striker should be efficient in most of the following when playing in and around the penalty box:

  • Receiving and protecting the ball under pressure from a touch-tight marker.
  • Turning with the ball.
  • Escaping from tight marking.
  • Exploiting a touch-tight marker by the use of feints and turns on receiving and in possession of the ball.
  • Running intelligently and often quickly over short distances to receive passes with the body between the ball and the opponent.
  • Combining with other team-mates in possession (especially fellow strikers) of the ball to produce goal-scoring opportunities.
  • Knowing where and when to stand still to hold a position.

The following practices may be of use in helping players to solve the game's problems. Young forwards need frequent, repetitive, customized and intelligently created practice situations in which player and coach can together work towards personal solutions for the progress of the player.

The art of protecting the ball can be introduced by utilizing the following simple practice situations: Setup 1 & 2, Setup 3 & 4