What is a Striker in Soccer – Explained by Soccer Coach

You’ve probably heard the word “strike” when someone talks about hitting something hard, right? Well, a “striker” does just that in soccer, but with the soccer ball! So, what is a striker in soccer? The term “striker” comes from striking the ball with the foot. A striker is a soccer player positioned closest to the opponent’s goal. Their main job is to score goals for their team. Strikers are often the most skilled and talented players on the team, and they must have a good combination of speed, strength, and finishing ability.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a striker does, their major traits and skills, and some of the top strikers presently playing. What makes these goal-scoring heroes special? Read on to discover soccer’s striker secrets.

What is a Striker in Soccer?

In the world of soccer, the striker is often the star of the show. A striker is the player who is primarily responsible for scoring goals and assisting other attacking players. They are usually the most advanced players on the field, positioned closest to the opponent’s goal. Technical skills like ball control, passing, and dribbling are essential for any striker. They also must have intelligent movement to confuse and overpower defensive lines.

Strikers need to have excellent shooting abilities to score in different situations—be it a close-range tap-in or a long-distance strike. Composure is key, especially when the pressure is on to convert chances into goals.

Strikers also excel in “hold-up play,” which means they can receive the ball under pressure, shield it, and bring other players into the game.

what is a striker in soccer

The Origins of the Term ‘Striker’ in Soccer

The term “striker” wasn’t commonly used until the 1970s. Before that, people just called them forwards or goal-scorers. The term “striker” gained traction in the 1970s, with one of the earliest mentions being in 1972, when Jimmy Bone, a player for Partick Thistle, was referred to as “The striker on strike” during the miners’ strike of that year. Another early mention was in Matt Busby’s memoir “Soccer at the Top,” published in 1973, where he used the term “striker” in quotes, suggesting it was a relatively new expression at the time.

The earliest reference found was in a Times report from October 1959, which described Bobby Charlton’s role as a “striker in the forward areas.” However, the term “striker” became an established part of soccer lexicon during the 1970s and has since been widely used to describe players whose primary role is to score goals.

Different Terms Used to Refer to a Striker in Soccer

In soccer, the term “striker” is often used, but did you know that there are other names for this position too? A striker can also be referred to as a “forward.” However, there are more specialized terms that describe the role of a striker in different situations:

  • Center Forward: This term is used for a striker who plays in the middle of the field. They are the ones who lead the attack and are usually excellent at shooting, dribbling and creating chances for others.
  • Inside Forward: This term refers to a striker who plays on the wings. They are known for their speed and the ability to cut inside to either shoot or cross the ball into the box.
  • False Nine: This is a unique term for a striker who doesn’t stay upfront but drops deeper into the midfield. They act more like playmakers, using their vision to create opportunities for their teammates.

Where Does a Striker Play?

In soccer, the position of a striker is crucial for a team’s attacking strategy. A striker, also known as a forward or attacker, plays closest to the opponent’s goal. They usually line up in the middle of the soccer field to maximize their area for attempting to score goals.

They play the furthest away from their own goalie and are the closest members to the opponent’s goal area. Strikers are generally positioned in front of the attacking midfielder and center forward on the pitch. While teams can employ various formations, strikers are consistently the players nearest to the opponent’s goalie.

Some common formations you might see are 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1, 4-5-1, and 4-3-3. In each of these, the striker’s primary role remains the same: to be the focal point of the team’s attacking plays.

What Does a Striker in Soccer Do?

Striker’s Role in Attack

Alright, let’s talk about what a striker does when their team has the ball. First off, they’re the go-to player when the team wants to move the ball up the field quickly. They hang out near the other team’s goal, ready to get the ball and make something happen. Sometimes they hold onto the ball to give their teammates time to join the attack. That’s called “hold-up play,” and it’s super important.

But wait, there’s more! Strikers also have to keep moving. If they stand still, they’re easy for defenders to mark. So, they make different kinds of runs to confuse the defenders. One moment they might be darting behind the defense, and the next they might be dropping back to get the ball. It keeps everyone on their toes!

Striker’s Role in Defense

Now, you might think strikers only care about scoring goals, but they also have a job to do when the other team has the ball. They’re usually the first line of defense, trying to win the ball back as soon as possible. This is called “pressing,” and it’s a big part of modern soccer. Sometimes, they even help out during set pieces like corners and free kicks, especially if they’re tall or good in the air.

Attributes of a Good Striker

Let’s talk about what makes a striker really good at their job. There are several key traits that a striker should have to be great on the field. Let’s break it down:

  • Confidence: A good striker believes they can score. Confidence is like fuel for a striker. If you think you can score, you’ll go for it and most likely succeed.
  • Touch: This is all about how well a striker can control the ball. A good touch means you can keep the ball close even when you’re running fast or surrounded by defenders.
  • Speed: Speed isn’t just about running fast. It’s also about thinking fast and making quick decisions. A striker needs to be quick on their feet and in their mind.
  • Shot Accuracy: This one’s a no-brainer. A striker needs to be able to shoot the ball accurately to score goals. The more you practice, the better you get.
  • Football Moves: A great striker has a few special moves up their sleeve. These moves can help them get past defenders and create opportunities to score.
  • Positioning: Knowing where to be on the field is super important. A good striker always finds the best spot to receive the ball and take a shot at the goal.

5 Key Traits of a Striker in Soccer

Let’s talk about what makes a striker really stand out on the field.There are five key traits that all top strikers share. Let’s dive in:

  • Elite Finishing: A top striker knows how to score, no matter what. They practice different ways to kick the ball into the net, like using either foot or even their head. It’s all about making the most of every chance.
  • Anticipation and Fast Reactions: Great strikers think fast. They can guess where the ball will go and get there before anyone else. It’s like having a soccer sixth sense!
  • Composure and Confidence: The best strikers stay cool, even when the game gets intense. They believe they can score and usually, they do. If they miss a shot, they shake it off and get ready for the next one.
  • Clever Movement: A smart striker keeps moving, making it hard for defenders to catch them. They zigzag, sprint, and sometimes even walk to throw off the other team. It’s all about being unpredictable.
  • Excellent Technical Skills: Top strikers are good with their feet. They can control the ball, dribble past defenders, and make awesome passes. These skills make them a big threat to the other team.

Also Read: What is a Hat Trick in Soccer? – Explained by Soccer Coach

what is a striker in soccer

5 Bonus Tips for Strikers

Let’s talk about some extra tips that can make you an even better striker. Here are five bonus tips that can elevate your game:

  • Practice Makes Perfect: If you want to be a great striker, you’ve got to practice. Work on your shooting, dribbling, and even heading. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
  • Work on Positioning and Timing: Being in the right place at the right time is key. Practice different runs and movements during training to discover what’s effective. This will help you get the edge over your opponents.
  • Improve Your First Touch: A good first touch can make all the difference. Work on controlling the ball quickly and accurately. This will help you keep possession and create more opportunities to score.
  • Build Your Physique: Soccer is a physical game, and strikers need to be strong. Extra gym sessions or a strength and conditioning program will help you hold off defenders and win those 50/50 balls.
  • Use Both Feet and Read the Game: Don’t just rely on your strong foot. Don’t just rely on your strong foot. Practice shooting with both feet so you’re ready for any situation and always keep an eye on where the ball is going. If you can guess where it’ll be, you can get there first and make something awesome happen.

Best Strikers in Soccer

Let’s talk about the best strikers in the world right now. Some of the top strikers in 2023 are:

1. Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

Current Season (2023-2024)

  • Club: Manchester City
  • Appearances: 4 (0 as a substitute)
  • Goals: 6
  • Assists: 1
  • Shots: 18

2. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

Current Season (2023/2024)

  • Total Appearances: 3
  • Goals: 5
  • Minutes Played: 219

3. Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)

Current Season (2023/2024)

  • Total Appearances: 4
  • Goals: 2
  • Assists: 1
  • Yellow Cards: 2
  • Minutes Played: 360

4. Harry Kane (Bayern Munich)

Current Season (2023/2024)

  • Club: Bayern Munich
  • Appearances: 3 (Bundesliga) + 1 (DFL-Supercup)
  • Goals: 3 (Bundesliga)
  • Assists: 1 (Bundesliga)

5. Karim Benzema (Al-Ittihad)

Current Season (2023/2024)

  • Club: Al-Ittihad
  • Appearances: 5
  • Goals: 2
  • Assists: 2

Striker Vs Forward

You might have heard the terms “striker” and “forward” and wondered, “Aren’t they the same thing?” Well, not exactly. Here are some key differences:

  • Position on the Field: A striker is usually the player closest to the opponent’s goal. They’re the ones who are mainly responsible for scoring. On the other hand, a forward can be anywhere in the attacking zone, not just closest to the opponent’s goal.
  • Role in Scoring: Strikers are the go-to players for scoring goals. They’re the ones who get the glory when the ball hits the back of the net. Forwards, however, are not just about scoring; they also create goal-scoring opportunities for their teammates.
  • Skills: Strikers are experts at finding space between defenders and are usually fast with or without the ball. Forwards can also be fast, but they sometimes rely more on their physical presence and are good at seeing opportunities for a pass between defenders.
  • Types of Players: The term “forward” can refer to various positions like left and right-wingers, attacking midfielders, and even strikers. But a striker is a specific position, usually referred to as the “number 9.”

What Are the Skills That Make a Great Striker in Soccer?

There are several skills that are crucial for a striker to excel on the field. Here they are:

  • First Touch: A great striker knows how to control the ball quickly and effectively right after receiving it. This skill is super important for setting up a shot or making a play.
  • Awareness: Being aware of what’s happening around you is key. A top striker assesses every situation to make the best decision, whether it’s to shoot, pass, or dribble.
  • Shooting Ability: To be a great striker, you’ve got to be a fantastic finisher. This means making the most of every chance to score. So, practice those shots!
  • Composure: Staying calm under pressure is a must. When the game gets intense, a great striker keeps their cool and makes smart choices.
  • Pivoting: This is about keeping possession of the ball while your team gets organized. It’s a skill that not every striker has, but it’s super useful.
  • Playmaking: Sometimes, you can’t score, but you can set up a teammate to do it. A great striker knows when to pass and how to do it well.
  • Movement: Always look for free spaces to receive the ball. Being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference.
  • Patience: Good things come to those who wait, right? A great striker knows when to wait for the perfect opportunity to strike.
  • Timing: This is all about making good decisions at the right moments. Whether it’s choosing when to shoot or when to pass, timing is everything.

Also Read: Highest Scoring Soccer Game Ever Recorded – Explained by Soccer Coach

Summing Up on What is a Striker in Soccer

A striker in soccer is a player who’s like the goal-scoring superstar of the team. They’re the ones closest to the opponent’s goal and their main job is to score goals. Strikers need to be really skilled and fast, and they should know how to control the ball and make great shots. They’re also responsible for putting pressure on the other team’s defence. Being a striker can be tough, but it’s also exciting because you get to make those amazing goals that fans cheer for. In simple terms, a striker is the player who tries to score the most goals in soccer.

Faqs on What is a Striker in Soccer

Is Striker a Hard Position?

Yes, being a striker is considered one of the most challenging positions in soccer. You’re the main goal scorer, so you have to be skilled, athletic, and mentally focused. You also have to run a lot and engage in high-intensity sprints and tackles. So, it’s not just about scoring; it’s about being physically and mentally up to the challenge.

Do Strikers Need to Be Fast?

Speed can be an asset for a striker, but it’s not a must-have. Your need for speed depends on your team’s style of play. If your team loves long balls, then yes, being fast helps. But if your team plays a more possession-based game, then other skills like ball control may be more important. So, speed is good, but it’s not the only thing that makes a striker great.

What’s the Prime Age for a Striker?

The prime age for a striker in soccer varies from player to player. However, experts often say that strikers reach their peak performance between the ages of 25 and 30. During this period, they usually have the perfect blend of physical prowess and mental maturity. Some players might peak earlier or later, but this age range is generally considered the sweet spot for a striker’s career.

Should a Striker Defend?

Well, soccer is a team sport, and everyone has a role in defence. While a striker’s main job is to score, they can also contribute defensively. They can pressure the opposing team’s defence, force mistakes, or even drop back to support their own defense when needed. In modern soccer, a striker should have some defensive responsibilities (track back, set piece duties, defending corners).

What is a Second Striker in Soccer?

In soccer, a second striker is also known as the “support striker” or the “inside forward.” This player works closely with the main striker to create scoring opportunities and put pressure on the opposing team’s defense. Positioned just behind the main striker, the second striker’s role is more about setting up chances for teammates rather than focusing solely on scoring goals. They are versatile, able to operate in various positions across the front line, and often contribute to the team’s build-up play.

Do Strikers Need Strength?

Strength can be beneficial for a striker, helping them hold off defenders and win aerial battles. However, it’s not a strict requirement for success. Many great strikers, like Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, have relied more on their quickness, agility, and technical skills than on physical strength. In essence, a good striker is a blend of various qualities, including strength, speed, technique, and a keen eye for goal.

How Many Goals is Good for a Striker?

A good striker usually aims for at least 15-20 goals in a season. For example, if Harry Kane scores 18 goals or Erling Haaland nets 20, that’s considered a strong performance. Scoring this many helps the team win games and shows the striker is doing their main job well.

About the author


Hi I"m Aryan a pro soccer player, coach, and visionary in the world of soccer. With an impressive journey that began at the tender age of five, I have dedicated my life to the beautiful game.

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