What is the role of a forward? What's a good training session for strikers look like? Well, that’s easy: strikes are there to score goals. So, how do you improve upon or get better at scoring goals? That's easy, shoot, and shoot and shoot some more. The key though, and really the key to any position on the field, is your first touch and getting the ball out of your feet so you can dribble, pass, cut, and as a forward, shoot and score.
Scoring doesn't happen just with the foot though. Just ask Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, of Manchester United, who has scored a few goals this year with some odd body parts, one being his neck. However, for the most part, forwards score goals with their feet and their head. So it makes sense to work on finishing, scoring goals with the head, on the volley and from the ground, with both the right and left foot and with power and placing the ball into the corners.
And if it’s one thing young players do too often, it’s shoot with power. They too often try to blast the ball into the goal, rather than pass or just place the ball into the corner. Many times you’ll hear some coaches say just hit the target, which means just force the keeper to make a save by getting the shot on goal and don't hit the ball over the goal.
Of course the role of the forward isn’t just scoring goals, he or she helps stretch the defense, holds on to the ball and enable teams to build up an attack and keep possession, and creates goal scoring chances for other players on the team. But the main focus of a forward is putting the ball into the net.
Find a wall and play the ball as hard as you can against it or have someone play the ball hard into your feet, so you can work on controlling the ball out in front of you. Do this with both feet ten times.
Turning and Shooting
When a forward is in the attacking third of the field the thought that should be running through the head is how can I get a shot off, how can I score. Work on all the various ways you can turn and get a shot off. Get a partner to play the ball into you at various speeds and angles and work on turning and smacking the ball against the wall. Imagine there’s a defender marking you and you need to get just enough space to get a shot off.
Take ten shots with each foot where you land on your shooting foot – this is where you’re shooting for power. Try to keep the ball low and keep your knee over the ball. Learn to use other defenders as shields and try to bend the ball around the players. A forward doesn’t need much space or room to get a shot off. Know where you are on the field and how you can spin or use your body to shield the ball from the keeper and then turn and shoot.
Controlling High Balls
Boot the ball high up into the air and work on controlling the ball with the instep and the inside of the foot, steering the ball to one side or another. Also work on deadening the ball with the head, taking the pace out of it and controlling it to one side.
If you can partner up with someone who is trying to working on their crossing, then that’s ideal. You can act as the target for all of their crosses. Work on volleys, headers, and placing the ball into the corners, right back where the cross came from. This means when you are trying to score from a cross on the right side you send the ball to the low, right corner of the goal.
For forwards, it’s all about making this darting and angled runs to receive the ball. But the key with these runs is pulling the defender away from the space you want to run into, so this requires some cleverness and a change of pace. You might jog or walk one way and then sprint into the space where you want to receive the ball.
Coerver Ball Work
It’s always good to get in some ball work, so some dribbling work, turns, cuts, moves and then some juggling. Spend some time working on your weaker foot as well. There's nothing better than some Coerver Coaching footwork drills.
Emulate a Great Player
What right back do you look up to and admire? Whose style of play would you like to emulate? Spend time watching this player, it’s easy to punch their name in and see highlight clips of their play on YouTube. Forwards: Diego Milito of Inter Milan; Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan; David Villa of Barcelona; Wayne Rooney of Manchester United; Peter Crouch of Tottenham Hotspurs, Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich.
Wayne Rooney on playing soccer: "I love playing football but I think I am like everyone else, I hate losing and love winning. And if the time comes when I am not disappointed when things are definitely not going right, then that's when people should worry."
Extra: For all players, develop a few favored moves, shots, passes, crosses, and skills. Perfect those two or three skills. Make them yours. This could be a step over, bending the ball, a powerful shot, develop some skills that set you apart from other players, no matter what position you play.
Check out these soccer training sessions for other positions: