Soccer / Football Positions

Generally, when you start playing soccer you will want to play a variety of positions in order to find out where you are most likely to be successful on the field. At the lower youth age levels, players almost never have fixed positions because it hinders their development. Below is an explanation of each position on the field so that you can get a better idea of what your responsibilities will be, and also so you can determine what position may be best for your particular skill set.


The goalkeeper is the net minder. They are the only players on the field allowed to use their hands, and are also routinely the orchestrators of the defense. A goalkeeper should be very vocal and have strong leadership qualities, as well as tremendous mental fortitude.


The sweeper, or libero as they are known in Italy, is the last line of defense, with the exception of the goalkeeper. The sweeper should have exceptional speed, and maintain the ability to track multiple attackers simultaneously. Very often the sweeper isn’t responsible for marking any one opposing player, but rather defends any attacker who gets past the other defenders.

Center Back

The defender who plays along the back line between the right and left defenders is called the center back. The center back should have excellent marking skills, be accustomed to physical play, and have the ability to clear aerial balls with his head. The center back is also responsible for tracking opposing players that drift into the middle of the field.

Left Back

The left back is traditionally responsible for marking the opposing team’s right winger.

Right Back

The right back is traditionally responsible for marking the opposing team’s left winger.

Center Midfielder

The center midfielder is the maestro on the field. It is the most important position on the team because the center midfielder will usually touch the ball more than any other player. The center midfielder’s job is not only to facilitate the attack, but also to track back on defense. He should have an unmatched level of fitness on the field, as well as the ability to run great distances for a long period of time. The most important quality in a center midfielder is the ability to make exceptional passes that feed the attack.

Attacking Midfielder

A midfield player who has an attacking mindset, routinely distributes the ball to the forwards, and takes shots. An attacking midfielder has the freedom to drift into the opposing team’s third of the field.

Defensive Midfielder

Defensive midfielders tends to hang back to stop opposing players from scoring. Although their job is still to feed balls forward to the attackers, they tend to play with a defensive mindset.


The winger plays up top, either on the left or right side of the field. The winger’s primary job is to use his speed to make runs down the side of the field, stretch the defense, and then serve the ball to the middle of the field in front of the opposing goal.

Center Forward

The center forward is traditionally played in a formation in which there are three attackers up top. Since he is not the lone attacker, he has the freedom to spread balls to the wings or attack the goal, depending on where the best opportunities present themselves.

Roaming Striker

The roaming striker is generally used when a team has a gifted attacker with exceptional speed. The player must have the ability to beat the opposing defenders. Teams rarely play a formation with a lone roaming striker unless they have a player who is capable of taking on the responsibility of being the primary goal scorer.

The Best Roaming Strikers?

At the highest level of play in the world, teams rarely play a formation with a roaming striker. The reason for this is the roaming striker must be a world class-caliber player. Examples of professional players who are skilled enough to play the position include:

  • Liverpool’s Fernando Torres
  • Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney
  • Inter Milan’s Samuel Eto’o

Choosing your Position

Once you have familiarized yourself with the responsibilities of each position, consider which one optimally represents your skill set and playing mentality. If you think you are being played out of position, tell your coach why you think you are the best option for the spot of your choice.

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