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.
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.
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.