Ask any Head Coach or Soccer Manager what the hardest position in soccer is and they will quickly tell you that they are all easy compared to their own job! After all there is an old adage in soccer that when the team does well the players get the credit and when the team does badly the Head Coach gets fired!
Many people would say that striker is the most difficult position to play on the soccer pitch and this would be backed up by the evidence of the incredible fees and wages strikers receive in comparison to players in other positions. They are normally much better rewarded than other players because most people in soccer consider putting the ball in the goal to be the single hardest skill in the game.
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If you’re a striker very often you only have a tiny fraction of a second to execute your skills and get the ball into the back of the net, often under immense pressure from opponents.
At the highest levels in soccer there is also the expectation of fans who think you will score every time you have an opportunity. There is a difficult physical dimension to being a striker too as the opposition defenders will often try to intimidate you both verbally and physically to stop you from executing your skills.
Watch this collection of top strikers from around the world and the array of skills they demonstrate, is it right to say this the hardest position to play in football?
If you are talking about pressure on the soccer pitch though it is impossible to ignore the pressure that the goalkeeper feels in every game. Some would argue that the goalkeeper is the most important position on the soccer pitch. It is certainly the most specialized and unique.
The goalkeeper goes on to the pitch knowing that any time they make a mistake it is likely to cost their team a goal which puts them under huge pressure in every minute of every game.
Many top coaches now consider the goalkeeper to be the most important member of the team not only for keeping the ball out of their own net but also in terms of their distribution and setting up attacks to score goals. The best goalkeepers also set how high the defensive line is and generally the better the goalkeeper and their anticipation of attacks, the higher the defensive line which is welcomed by most coaches.
Watch this video for some great drills to develop all round goalkeeping skills:
Whilst it is easy to make a strong case that the goalkeeper is the most difficult position to play on a soccer pitch because of its importance, it would be wrong to ignore just how difficult it can be to be a defender. In the modern game of soccer most people are excited by quick, attacking play and often forget the fact that the game is 50% attacking and 50% defending.
A strong defense is essential for any team who wants to be successful. There have been virtually no teams in history who have been successful who are unable to defend. Every team starts every game with a tie after all and whilst individually strong defenders are important it is the ability of the defenders to combine as a unit to defend their own goal and keep the ball out of their net that is essential.
Some people would point out though that it is this collective responsibility that means playing individually as a defender is slightly easier than other positions on the soccer pitch.
Certainly a midfielder for instance will have many more physical demands placed on themselves in terms of the yardage covered. Many would say that's playing in midfield is actually the most difficult of them all because you have to make a positive contribution both defensively and offensively to support your team.
Top midfielders can clock many miles during a soccer match usually running at an intense speed and they have to possess incredible stamina to sustain their running.
Some would agree that the Head Coach has the hardest position in soccer and others would even say that the team owner has the hardest position in soccer because they are ultimately responsible for paying the bills!
After weighing up all the evidence I think that goalkeeper is the hardest position to play in soccer simply because of the unique skill set required to be able to be a successful goalkeeper.
With the different demands that are being placed on goalkeepers in the modern game, not only do they have to defend the goal but they also have to act as sweepers and skillful defenders in their own right, often coming out of the penalty area to repel attacks and start off offensive moves.
Well, that's my opinion in a nutshell, but what about you. We'd love to hear your opinion on the toughest position in soccer as well. No doubt you will nominate your own position, but give us a shout in the comments below...