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Football Positional Analysis: How to Be a Dangerous Striker

A passionate Football (Soccer) fan who is into the sport as both a player, a fan, and in the future, a coach.

Bayern's Robert Lewandowski, celebrating after scoring a goal.

Bayern's Robert Lewandowski, celebrating after scoring a goal.

What's a Striker?

Strikers are the players positioned closest to the opponent's goal. Their main responsibility is to score goals and create opportunities for other players. While it sounds easy, a striker will need good technique and excellent team play to succeed.

Teams normally deploy one to three strikers in a match. Each one will have a different objective. When a team deploys one striker, that means they are playing it tactically. They are going to rely on excellent team play as the main route to scoring a goal.

When a team deploys two strikers, they are solely relying on those strikers to score. With three strikers in formation, the strategy goes back to team play. However, each striker will have different roles to help each other out. Let's take a look at how to be an excellent striker.

There are a variety of skills needed to be an effective striker.

There are a variety of skills needed to be an effective striker.

How to Be an Excellent Striker

Strikers have the challenging task of scoring goals. Some strikers can suit different roles. Roberto Firmino plays in a center-forward role. He serves as a dummy striker for his wingers to score. Erling Haaland plays as a target man. He has the speed and strength to get past defenders, and he has an eye for positioning.

To be a good striker is to be a good scorer, and that isn't something a player can change in a day. To be a good striker, the player has to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. From there, the player can decide on what kind of striker they are.

Some strikers play well as center-forwards thanks to their positional awareness. Some strikers can play well as target men; their strength and speed supports their drive to goal. Other strikers are good at moving the ball upfront from the sides. This allows them to play as wingers.

A good target man needs strength and speed.

A good target man needs strength and speed.

Types of Strikers

Here are the various types of strikers in football.


This is the most common type of striker. A center-forward should be good in keeping the ball under control, creating scoring opportunities and finishing off an attack. They will need quick feet and an awareness of where their teammates are.


Wingers are part of the forward line, and they can also serve in the midfield line. Wingers play in the sides of the field as they try to move the ball up. Wingers often score from close range. A good winger has to have excellent speed, ball control, good crossing skills and awareness of when to enter the penalty box area for the goal.

False 9

This striker position is related to the "false 10", which is an attacking midfield position. False 9s are players who are dummy strikers. On the field, they pose as striking options and play slightly lower from the attacking line. These are strikers who create opportunities for wingers to score. While they can score themselves, they mostly create openings. To be a good false 9, you need excellent passing skills. You also have to be nuisance to opposing defenders.

Target Man/Target Striker

This is the most common position for strikers. The target man is the player who is always available to score a goal. They are usually the fastest and strongest player on the frontline. Some of these players are tall, which makes them good in aerial battles. To be a good target man, you need excellent strength, aerial skills and good finishing skills.

Speed drills are a necessity to score goals.

Speed drills are a necessity to score goals.

Striker Training Techniques

Here are some drills that can improve the skills of a striker.

Fast Feet Training

Fast feet is fundamental for modern day strikers. Lionel Messi and Ronaldo use their speed and feet technique to get past defenders. Step-overs are one of the key techniques to try out, but a striker must practice fast feet. This drill helps to improve a striker's explosiveness. This will help make a striker unpredictable.

Pass, Move and Finish

This is more of a team drill. Get into a group of six with two strikers and four midfielders. The two strikers have to pass the ball to the central midfielder while the central midfielder passes to the left or right midfielder. The strikers have to position themselves in line for a chance. The central midfielder will then pass back to the striker, and the striker has to find space to score or pass to another nearby teammate.

Header Finishes

Heading is important for strikers, especially those who are the target man. Heading may seem to be a "sweaty goal" method, but a goal is a goal. Learning how to control a header would be good for scoring as it helps to position your header to the goal. The power of the header greatly changes the outcome of a game.

Cruyff Turns

Another great skill to learn is Cruyff turns, a style of dribbling that often confuses opposing defenders. This technique requires quick-thinking and fast feet. It helps to change the direction of play for the striker to find open areas to score. Lionel Messi often used this technique during his prime.

General Finishing Techniques

In order to score a goal, strikers have to know where to shoot and where to get the goalkeeper off-guard. Practicing shots will allow strikers to learn how to control their shot power and where to position the ball for a goal. Many beautiful finishes come from unpredictable shots.

Two-Footed Control

It's a rare skill to be able to play well with both feet. Take Sadio Mane as an example. The winger has scored many goals using both his strong and weak foot. His ball control is often based on using both feet to control the ball.

Sharp awareness is vital for a striker.

Sharp awareness is vital for a striker.

Strikers IQ

It's easy to say that a striker just needs to be at the right place at the right time. However, this requires a striker to calculate their runs, especially to avoid offside traps.

The striker has to know when to make runs, when to get into dangerous attacking positions, when to go for a header and when to be unselfish. Strikers may have to be selfish as well. Remember, their goal is to score a goal.

Here are some of the best strikers in football today.

Here are some of the best strikers in football today.

Three of the Best Strikers in the World

Here are the top strikers in the game.

Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland has scored in almost every match he has played in. This target man has exhilarating speed and power to get past defenders. Although most of his goals are tap-ins, that's because he is usually in the right place at the right time.

Mo Salah

Mo Salah is really quick on the ball and good in tight situations. This allows him to get past defenders while showing off flair. His speed helps him to get into the penalty area quickly.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was phenomenal in his prime. He used his quick feet and awareness to be a dangerous striker against many teams.

© 2022 Nigel Koay Talks Football