Especially if you or your player are new to competitive soccer, the fast-pace game can be confusing at the beginning. Every position in soccer has its individual tasks during a game. In the following series, we will take a closer look at each position (Defender, Midfielder, and Forwards) and their responsibilities. Part 1 will explain the Midfield.
The midfield has a variety of different positions, for example the defensive midfielder or “6”. In modern Soccer, this position has gained a lot of importance, as most teams play either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 (no offensive midfielder or “10”) formation. Especially in the 4-4-2 without a 10, the defensive midfielders need to win balls in front of the defense and defend areas, as well as open the game after gaining possession. Good 6´s can win important balls through smart 1v1 defensive play, and as soon as they gain possession, play a good pass to start their own attack.
Further important skills / traits for defensive midfielders, besides the above-mentioned vision and defensive work rate, are endurance, ball mastery and passing. Especially in the midfield, players cover a lot of ground on the field, which is why they need to have good endurance. Losing the ball in this position can be devastating, as they can lead to dangerous counter attacks from the opposing team. Ball mastery, a good first touch and skills on the ball will help controlling the ball under pressure, and solid passing skills will enable you to keep possession and support the forwards in the attack.
The Offensive Midfielder
The Offensive midfielder or “10” (sometimes called playmaker) needs to be good on the ball, as well. This position plays right behind the forwards, and has the task to introduce attacks, play the crucial pass that leads to a goal (assist) and score possible. So, which are the pre-conditions to make you a good 10?
10s need to be fast, agile, and good dribblers. They also need to have a superb technique and vision to recognize gaps and runs from teammates, plus they should be able to score. Good endurance and secure passing are also beneficial traits to be a good “playmaker”.
Central midfielders or “8” are generally a hybrid between the 6 and 10. Depending on the type of player, the central midfielder tends to lean more towards the 6 or towards the 10. Besides the mentioned characteristics for the 6 and 10, the 8 needs to keep the possession, as well as play short and long balls to the central or outside midfielders and forwards.
If your coach plays without a defensive or offensive midfielder, the 8s need to play both, which requires communication, so both parts are covered. Depending on the game situation, one player can drop (become the 6), and the other player goes up (10) or vice versa.
Last, but not least, the right (7) and left midfield (11). These positions need to help defend, as well as attack over the wings. In the attack, they need to feed the forwards and 10s with crosses and passes over the outside, or cut to the middle to take a shot themselves. If the ball is on the left wing, the right mid (7) needs to move towards the center of the pitch to facilitate the change to the other side and the other way around. These players need to be quick and fast sprinters with the ball, as well as good in passing and crossing the ball at a high pace. Since they need to cover a lot of ground in the defense and offense, they also should have good stamina.
In the defense, the outside midfielders need to be the first ones to interrupt attacks and force the opposing team towards the outside lines, to stop attacks before they build up.
Even though, every position in the midfield has its individual tasks, some core skills are important regardless of your role. Those competencies are:
- Creativity and flexibility
- Ball Mastery
- Passing & Crossing
- Speed with and without the ball
Midfielders cover the most ground during a game, professional players reach up to 8 miles per game. So be aware that midfielders need to be constantly moving for the entire duration of the match.
Now it is your turn: In your opinion, which physical, technical and cognitive skills/traits are most important for midfielders?
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