Key Positions In SoccerKey Positions In Soccer
Although there are actually as many as eleven different playing positions in soccer, they can all be categorized into four groups: goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards. No matter what the size of the game is and the number of players present, these playing positions largely remain constant.
Goalies or goalkeepers
Arguably the most important player is the goalie or goalkeeper. Of all the players in the field, it is only the goalkeeper that is allowed to use the hands in handling the ball. In spite of this, goalkeepers are only allowed this privilege within the boundaries of the penalty box. Each team will be assigned its own goalkeeper, with these players primarily tasked with preventing the opposing team from making a goal. Goalkeepers are typically outfitted with long-sleeved jerseys, in a color that distinguishes them from the other players on the field.
Defenders have the primary roles of preventing the opposing team from scoring or advancing the ball, while at the same time trying to win back control of the ball. Most teams will typically assign anywhere from three to five players in the defensive position, with each having equally important, yet slightly different functions.
The tallest and strongest players in the team are usually assigned to defensive positions wherein they are positioned at the center of the back line. Such players are typically referred to as central defenders or center backs, and they are often responsible for wresting control of the ball from the opposing team while it is up in the air. Such players rarely advance downfield, and they are tasked with much of the defensive capabilities of any given team.
Towards the flanks, defenders called wingbacks or fullbacks are often situated in order to provide support for the other players in the defensive position. These players are generally smaller, faster, and have superior ball handling skills. The primary role of these defensive players is to deal with attacks that come from the sides of the field, although they may also often be tasked with contributing to the side offense of a particular team. In fact, these players are often called upon to provide support to the midfielders, in some instances even working their way deep into the opponents territory in order to launch cross attacks.
Midfielders are tasked with what the probably the most physically demanding roles in the game. It is hardly surprising then that midfielders are usually the most physically fit members of the team, which is important since they will often be required to do a great deal of running. In fact, midfielders actually perform both defensive and forward roles in a team, often trying to gain control of the ball and creating scoring and maneuvering opportunities for the offensive.
The role of midfielders within a particular team is typically determined by the team’s playing strategy. Midfielders assigned to the flanking position may be tasked primarily with launching crosses or cutting into the middle of the field with varying degrees of defensive responsibilities. Midfielders toward the center of the field on the other hand may be required to maintain control of the ball and win it back from the opponent when necessary. In such instances, these players may be referred to as “holding midfielders” or “anchors”. Still other playing situations require midfielders to move downfield and to send the ball to the forwards. Because of these varying roles, midfielders are often required to have a wide range of skills and capabilities.
Midfielders any be arranged in different formations, with the most common being a straight line comprised of three to five players. Another common formation is the “diamond”, in which two or three players are followed by the remaining midfielders.
Possibly the most basic roles are handled by the forwards. These players are usually responsible for one task only, and that is to score goals. As straightforward as their roles might be however, forwards often have the most demanding roles in any team. Responsible for much of the action that goes on downfield, forwards may be comprised of players of any size, with each having their own particular strengths. Taller players may be assigned forward positions for their ability to wrest control of the ball while it is in the air for instance, while smaller players may be tasked with strategies wherein quick and accurate control of the ball is necessary. Forwards will also have to work on close conjunction with the other players of the team in offensive positions, either to create scoring opportunities for other forwards, or to help the defense recover from an error.
In addition to these roles, a particular team may also deploy players in hybrid roles, wherein they perform the functions of offensive as well as defensive players. One particularly important position in this category is the one held by players known as “midfield sweepers”, which basically provides assistance to the defense.