Want to Improve as a Soccer Winger? Look to Emulate These Stars

One of the most popular soccer positions for young players is down the flanks, and superstars like Arjen Robben and Ronaldo have made playing in that area look incredible. Quality wingers need to possess searing speed to get past defenders, exquisite skill to cut inside, and masterful vision to whip in crosses. If you want to improve as a winger, there are some seriously hot players to watch right now who will help you raise your game to the next level.

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah joined Liverpool in the summer of 2017 and instantly set the Premier League alight. The Egyptian speedster came off a stunning campaign at Roma the previous season in which he bagged 15 goals and 11 assists, but at Anfield he upped his output massively.

Salah is known for his blistering pace which he uses to get in behind the opposition defence. This is combined with skilful trickery that bamboozles everybody around him. Salah’s addition to the Reds has helped them massively in the Champions League, and at the time of writing the Anfield outfit are 6/1 in the football betting to win the tournament. To top it all off, he’s a great team player who will happily set up his colleagues if they are in a better position to shoot than he is.

Neymar Jr

Neymar is undoubtedly one of the best footballers in the world, which is why Paris Saint-Germain forked out an astonishing $281 million to sign him from Barcelona. The Brazilian usually plays on the left side of a front three, and likes to drift inside from this position to take a pop at goal.

There is no denying that the PSG man is one of the hottest sharpshooters in the world, but he also possesses a number of other skills that help to elevate him above other elite players. Neymar’s strongest area is his dribbling, and his ability to trick his way around his opponents. He has been compared to legend of the game Ronaldinho in this regard, but few would deny that Neymar’s all-around game is superior to the former Brazil star.

Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard has long been a Premier League legend, and has consistently performed well ever since he joined Chelsea in 2012. The slippery Belgian trickster has consistently been named Player of the Year at Stamford Bridge, and also claimed the Premier League Player of the Season award for 2014-15.

Hazard has often been fielded as a “false nine” at the head of the Blues attack, but his most dangerous position is on the left flank. From this starting point he is able to cut in and shoot with his stronger foot, or aim to set up an opponent. The talented winger usually scores more goals than he assists, but does possess excellent vision to find his teammates in better positions. The Chelsea man has been praised for his technical ability, which he uses to mesmerise fans and opposition defences alike.

Studying these players and seeing how they beat defenders is a great way to understand what you need to do to improve your soccer game. Even the greatest footballers ever look to others for inspiration, and Neymar has frequently credited his ability to watching players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and trying to copy their skills.

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Soccer Winger Guide

The winger is a deadly position. Wingers sprint down the sideline into open space, cross the ball, and beat other players 1 vs 1. They can score and play defense.

Good wingers are disciplined and push through physical pain.

A winger plays on the sides of the field (there is a left and right winger). They usually play near the sidelines but occasionally move to the middle of the pitch.

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Soccer Defender Guide

Defenders are the backbone of a team, possessing the grit needed to do whatever it takes to prevent the other team from scoring.

They usually hang back, protecting the goalie from breakaways and serving as options for midfielders in the defensive half.

Defenders have a hard, often unappreciated job. They need mental toughness, and determination to succeed.

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Soccer Forward Guide

Soccer forwards play in the offensive half of the pitch. They often receive the most scoring opportunities.

Forwards defend less than other positions. They apply pressure when the opposition’s defenders have the ball but usually stand and watch when the ball is in the defensive half of the field.

Good forwards score goals and make defender’s jobs tough. Playing forward is incredible when you score consistently but is frustrating when you have a cold streak.

This article will cover the top traits of a good forward and provide some tips to help you succeed at the position.

###Top 5 Traits of a Good Soccer Forward

These are the top 5 traits that good forwards possess (in order of importance):

1. Shooting ability

Forwards have one job. Kick the ball into the back of the net.

Forwards should have excellent finishing ability. They should know how to shoot while under pressure and while running.

They should know how to use every type of soccer shot effectively.

Read our articles How to Kick a Soccer Ball and How to Shoot a Soccer Ball to improve your shooting ability.

2. First touch ability

Forwards are marked tightly. They need the ability to receive passes (in the air and on the ground) under pressure without giving up the ball.

Forwards need the ability to turn in one touch and touch balls away from defenders and shoot. Forwards need to act quickly to set up goals. By the time they’ve taken three touches the opportunity to score is gone.

Read our article, How to Receive a Ball in Soccer to improve your first touch.

3. Strength/Shielding ability

Forwards receive the ball with a defender on their back, get pushed around by small defenders, and need to get in a good position to win a header.

You need strength and shielding ability for all of these situations (and many more).

Shielding is also helpful when being double-teamed by defenders. A good forward can shield, slow down the play, then make a good pass.

Hit the gym and read our article, How to Shield a Soccer Ball.

4. Speed

While strength will help you succeed as a forward, weak, fast players can still be effective.

Many teams use two forwards – one strong forwards who plays a supporting role and wins headers and another with great speed.

Speed will help you dribble past defenders, make runs to the sidelines that result in crosses, and run after through balls played over defender’s heads. Speed also helps you pressure the defense.

5. Heading ability

You can score countless goals if you have good heading ability.

Positioning, height, strength, and speed all help you win headers, but you need good heading technique to score consistently.

Read our article, How to Head a Soccer Ball for more information.

6 Soccer Forward Tips

1. Score by any means necessary

Scrappy forwards are the best forwards. They score the most goals.

What does it mean to be scrappy?

It means your goals aren’t always pretty. Sometimes you score rebounds because you hustle more than the defense. Sometimes you shoot the ball with your toe while falling. Sometimes you shoot the ball into a crowd and hope it bounces off someone and into the goal.

If you want to be a great forward, score goals by any means necessary. Shoot often. And if there isn’t a shot available, make one.

2. Switch with the other forward

Tell your fellow forward that you want to switch sides with him occasionally to confuse the defense.

If you switch correctly, two defenders will temporarily follow one forward (or run into each other), leaving the other open.

This simply technique keeps the defense on its toes.

3. Pressure defenders

Don’t let the defenders pass the ball around in the back. Put high pressure on the defense.

When you apply pressure you create mistakes and force defenders to clear the ball (rather than make a good pass).

4. Stay Close to the Other Forward

There are times when it’s best to spread out, but forwards are usually more effective while close together.

When forwards stick together they can perform one-twos, overlaps, and other plays.

When the ball is played to one forward’s feet, the other forward is there to provide support and make runs.

Focus on staying close to the other forward. You will have more options on offense.

5. Alternate your Runs

Most forwards make too many runs at the goal. This makes it easy for defenders to mark you and call an effective offside trap.

Switch things up. Pretend to run towards goal than turn and make a run to the ball. Run left, spin off the defender, than run towards the corner flag.

There are endless possibilities. You become dangerous when defenders don’t know what you’ll do next.

6. Use your arm to move past defenders

After you dribble past a defender, use your arm to push back on the defender and/or brush their arm away.

The referee almost never sees the movement (if you do it quickly) and it rarely gets penalized.

This basic technique delays the defender for a second or two. In soccer, an extra two seconds is a big advantage. Using your arm will make it harder for him to catch up.

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