You have just been signed up to your dream soccer club and have been selected to play the midfielder role, be it on the right or left side of your opponents.
But despite the confidence and skills you possess, it’s advisable to gather as much information as possible about your new role, to avoid failing your teammates in the field.
In this article, we take you through the standard roles of a professional soccer midfielder, traits of a good midfielder and tips for soccer midfield, to help jog your memory.
Roles of a Soccer Midfielder
In a soccer game, midfielders are required to play different roles from time to time.
The role is so demanding and players have to showcase their best skills and that includes being great in defense as well as offense.
However, like any player, they have main duties and they include;
- Maintaining Possession and Control Ball Passing
During the game, it’s the role of midfielders to pass the ball from one end to the other.
Therefore, they’re always on the lookout for ball possession opportunities and figuring out how to safely control the ball passing through dangerous areas/opponents.
Also, midfielders apply their high-level intelligence and quick decision-making skills to enable fast passes.
And while at it they open-up the field to allow attackers to make their move.
So they are constantly changing tactics, shifting between quick and slow passes, finding a way through attackers and giving the attackers a hard time through their defense mechanisms.
- Providing Link for Smooth Transitions between the Attackers and Defenders
As defenders and strikers take their respective position and play their roles, midfielders are required to help fill the gap between these two.
Somehow, the game has to go through them.
From the back attacks, random retreats and regroupings to switches between sides have to come through.
They allow defenders to make their way towards the pitch by providing them with necessary passing options.
And the other midfielder remains behind to assist attackers.
- Help Score Goals
During matches/training, midfielders make great assistants to their teammates.
If a team’s midfielders are weak, then the strikers are bound to lose many scoring opportunities, as they need a boost from time to time.
Therefore, any midfielder needs to exhibit great ball drifting tactics.
And because sometimes opportunities strikeout of the blue, a midfielder can score goals by participating in free-kicks, long throws from outside the box or even striking.
- Stop the Other team’s Attacks
This’s a complementary task for any holding/defensive midfielder, mainly because they are responsible for providing the defense with shield and breaking up attacks.
They always have to be on the lookout for attacks and quickly think of a way of preventing them, before the other team strengthens up.
Also, it’s the midfielders who act as the primary defense for any soccer team.
And on top of that, midfielders in the defensive third, have to cover the team’s defenders and act as temporary step-ins, where necessary.
Traits of Good Soccer Midfielder
For one to be a successful midfielder, they need to possess certain traits to help them influence the game on both the defense and the attack sides.
Some of the traits include;
- Good Decision Maker and Passion to Possess the Ball
Being a midfielder means one has to come in contact with the ball often.
Therefore, the midfielder should have an unstoppable passion to possess the ball and seek ways to have it by creating spaces for easy passing.
In their case, it should be normal to be in constant motion with the ball and be able to pass it on quickly and successfully.
And all this can only be possible if they possess great decision-making skills, which boils down to the ability to quickly weigh out options under pressure that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
- Highly Knowledgeable About Position and the Art of Playing
The success of a soccer team highly depends on the reliability of their midfielders.
Therefore, a midfielder needs to be at the right place and at the correct time.
They should have a clear understanding of the correct positions to take so that they can be ready to help their teammates in receiving passes and maintaining ball dominance.
Being at the wrong place at the right time can ruin the scoring chances of their team, thus risking a tough counter-attack.
They should know when they are allowed to counter-attack and the permittable intensity to avoid penalties.
- Physically Fit
While all players are required to be physically fit, midfielders tend to be in much pressure due to the important role they play in a game.
This is because, as already mentioned above, most passes get through them. So they’re usually running up and down, 90% of the game-time.
From defense, striking to maintaining ball control in the middle field, the fitter they are, the better for everyone.
- Highly Disciplined
From the above points, it’s now obvious that the midfielder position is very demanding.
Therefore, one should have a clear knowledge of who they are and what’s expected of them in the field.
That means performing their duties without being pushed.
The main aim is to maintain balance as being biased to one side can lead the team to a miserable defeat.
- Aware Of their Surrounding
A midfielder is the nose, ears, and eyes of the team.
Nothing should pass by without their knowledge. And they should be able to smell trouble from a distance and warm their teammates.
Also, they should know the current position of each player on the field to help plan for their next move.
- Maintains Possession under Pressure
A midfielder should know pressure from the immediate environment shouldn’t be felt by the ball.
They should be able to handle the ball with calmness, gives it a loving 1st touch and applies their best techniques to ensure the ball remains with their team.
A great midfielder’s ability to locate spaces and applying right timings, helps them escape the traps of the opponents to give their team a chance to possess the ball around the field, a little bit longer.
- All-round Player
Midfielders are required to step into other roles quite often.
They, therefore, should be good in whichever position they find themselves in.
When defending, they should be ready to emerge victorious with their impressive tackling skills and eventually repossessing the ball.
Their high level of creativity and great vision comes handy in weighing out their opponent’s playing box.
Also, they should be able to score when opportunities present themselves.
Tips for Soccer Midfield
- Know Your Teammates Well
Spend some quality time with your teammates and get to learn their strengths and weaknesses.
What do they regard as the best pass?
This will help you know which player will best receive the ball when you’re about to make a pass at a given area and time.
Remember a successful pass is the one that guarantees possession for your team and would most likely lead to scoring.
Are your teammates right or left-footed?
This is vital for foot passes as it determines perfect receivership without risking losing the ball to your opponents.
- Create room
As a midfielder, it’s important to always ensure you have enough space for passes.
And since the middle section of the field tends to be busy, you should quickly assume a new position to give a good passing angle for your teammates.
The same case applies to when you’re on the receiving end.
Doing this ensures your team stays long with the ball and you get to have a clear view of it to plan on the next moves.
- Work on Your Stamina
You will be constantly on the move throughout the game. So you should be able to cover as much area as possible.
Hence no room for fatigue.
And there’s no better way to ensure this than working on your stamina.
As earlier on mentioned, the fitter you get, the more you play and the more success you achieve.
- Use Both Feet
Whether you’re passing, shooting or dribbling, you need your feet.
And both of them should be in perfect condition.
This will not only ensure you move around with ease but also allow you to confidently play with both.
Both your feet will also come in handy when handling a ball, especially in a congested area.
You save time by quickly reverting to one-touch passes, which are impressive skills to possess.
- Quickly Scan Your Surroundings
When playing as a midfielder, your head should always be held up high.
This way you get a clear view from one end of the field to the other.
You should also look over your shoulders from time to time, as this will help you figure out your passing options and possess the ball for long.
- Shoot When Near the Box
If you own the ball and the opposing team midfielders are about to catch up, dribble forward and quickly shoot the ball into the box when you get near to it.
If you hesitate, you risk losing the ball to the opposers.
This is essential especially when the defenders are seemingly focused on the forwards.
- Switch Play
When you switch the ball, it means that you turn around and start playing towards the opposite end of the field.
Do this when a winger passes to you and search for a room to be effective at the center of the field.
Here’s a video to help you understand;
Being a soccer midfielder means a lot of responsibilities.
First, you have to know your roles, which include helping scoring goals, maintaining possession of the ball, among others.
Also, work on your personality to ensure you’re disciplined all the time as you will need a lot of it when playing.
Understanding your teammates is also a great trait as you will be working with them to ensure your team’s success.