Forward movement for Forwards

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

Many players want to be a forward in the game soccer for the obvious reason scoring goals and having the glory that comes with each goal.  As you develop as a soccer player you will feel more comfortable in certain roles.  You will also begin to see true forwards emerge.  Ones that kind find a way to score no matter their speed, size or skill level.  When you develop a scoring touch you immediately separate yourself from the rest of your teammates.  Remember, the ball is round and anything can happen therefore you must be prepared for any possibilities.    

Runs to make: your runs will differ depending on the formation and style of play you have but you’re  playing a traditional 4-4-2 the forwards will be in the same line as one another or with one just slightly deeper than the other.  The forwards should no further than twenty meters apart.  There are several reasons for this is but the main reason is so they can make switches opening up space to run off the ball onto through balls received from midfielders.  Also if one forward is taller than another and likes to control the ball and lay it back to the midfield or flick it on to the other forward who has speed.  Michael Owen of Manchester United is a great example of a fast forward who makes excellent runs off the ball. His runs are well timed so that he is on-side and constantly a threat to the opposing team.    

When to make runs: in soccer you must always be moving.  In all positions but specifically the forward position you must be constantly switching with your other forward.  By doing so you are creating openings and the opposing defenders will have a more difficult guarding you.  Even if this seems simple and obvious constant movement is more dangerous than no movement at all.  As you are looking for passes from your midfielder know if these are through passes or passes where you must check to the ball.  Striker Filippo Inzaghiof AC Milan is not the strongest, fastest or most skilled however he is one of the most dangerous goal scorers in Europe.  By constantly moving and watching the play develop he is able to break free from defenders and put himself in the right position to score goals.  The majority of his goals are scored inside the 18 yard box from receiving and shooting the ball to one-time shots and finally putting away rebounds.    

How often to run: you do not want to be constantly making runs that tire you out, especially if those runs are unproductive.  However, as a forward you must be constantly moving.  Chose your runs wisely looking to get in behind defenders, check to your midfielders and look to open up space for your striking partner. 

Think several plays ahead:  you must always be thinking several plays ahead as this will better prepare you to break down a defense.  Rarely will there be one option in the game of soccer for passes and openings to occur.  You must be prepared to make runs behind the defense, check to your midfielders to receive a ball, win headers and flick-ons and get to the net for scoring opportunities.

Check to the ball with speed: you must be strong with the ball and able to shield defenders off your back.  Some players excel with their opponents in front of them while others are better at holding off players behind them.  The striker more often than not is shielding off defenders from behind him.  A good way to shake off a defender is to push off or make a quick step forward, then backward and then check several feet towards the oncoming pass from the midfield.  The quick jab will help shake off the defender as he/she will not know which direction you’re headed or at least have a more difficult time stopping you.   

Mistake runs: as a forward you’re job is to open up the defense through your off-the-ball runs and put the ball in the back of the net.  Make sure you’re not running down the sideline as they will take you away from shooting and scoring range.  The sideline and near the corner flag is an area of the field mainly for the winger.  However, if you must run here based on the development of the play then take the opportunity but do not make a habit out of it thinking this area of the field is where you should be running.  Your job is to score goals and create those opportunities.  In order to do this you must be in middle deep third of the opposing end when attacking.   

Work closely with your midfielders in training and constantly be in communication with them throughout the game.  Eventually you will build a sense of trust and understanding amongst one another where you’ll know what each other’s runs are and when they occur.  This understanding will make you a more dangerous threat to the opposing team.  For more on this watch this video on Fernando Torres!

As a forward, which runs have you found are most deceiving for defenders?  Who would you say is the best professional forward moving with the ball and moving off the ball?  As always, your commends and feedback are much appreciated.

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