The second striker is a role normally seen in teams that utilize a two-forward alignment form of play. Usually, the second striker plays very closely to the striker by either falling back to act as the playmaker, or surge forward to thwart any offside traps.
When played to perfection, this position can cause devastating effects to the opposing side, so lets explore this role a little more…
The second striker, also referred to as the number ten, is positioned between the midfielders and the center forward.
This position is neither a true forward nor midfielder, but a combination of the two roles.
More recently, the second strikers are known for ‘playing in the hole’.
This refers to the space between the midfield and the opponent team’s defense.
Rather than score goals for his team, the second striker effectively makes play for his team’s attack and acts as a support provider for most of the game by distracting the center backs.
Second strikers are known to be small in stature compared to center forwards who have to be physically imposing. This position requires a quick, agile player who is always in constant motion helping the striker by creating goal scoring opportunities.
Additionally, second strikers normally play a tight space close to the opponent’s defense, which calls for snap decisions and precise ball control.
Below are skills that you can hone to ensure you stay on top of the game:
The main role of a second striker is to support the forwards and focus less on scoring goals yourself. This requires the player to be skillful at picking up loose balls coming through his area, like an attack-minded midfielder.
Furthermore, the second striker should always be tactically aware of his position, especially when passing the ball to his team’s strikers. T
his is because he has to ensure to use the tight space effectively and get past the opposing team’s defense without giving up the ball.
He has to hold off the opponent’s team and shield the ball at the same time until his teammates are in position for the ball.
You should be able to pass and receive the ball under pressure without losing ball control. A player who can receive the ball at full speed and shield it against the opponent team’s players at the same time would serve as an excellent second striker.
The second striker position sees lots of heading duels and it is therefore a quality skill to have. Given the tight space around the opponent’s defense and your team’s attackers, having good heading skills will increase your chances of scoring goals for your team.
As mentioned earlier, the second striker plays the role of a supporting forward with an attacking midfielder’s attitude.
If you can score goals in this position, the better your team is placed because you not only split the opponent’s defense but also go for the goal yourself.
This requires a perfected first touch and teamwork when chasing the ball so you do not fall out of position.
Despite the seemingly simple nature of this position, players require accuracy and great decision making skills in order to excel in this position.
A good second striker should always play creatively and be able to make snap decisions on what action is required of him during game play.
Here are a few set of drills you can practice to improve your game on the pitch:
Having a great first touch ensures that you can control the ball without slowing down. This lets you maintain your composure and ensures you make short, crisp passes.
To improve your game play, practice kicking the ball against the wall with one foot, then try to control it with the other. Continually increase the power of your passes with time and try to use both feet to ensure you are comfortable on whatever side of the pitch.
A great first touch will also afford you the necessary confidence to be a better decision maker and improve your finishing ability.
The striker’s role is to shoot goals but this does not mean that the second striker should slack at scoring goals when the opportunity arises.
Scoring is an invaluable skill for your team if you can create goal scoring opportunities as well as shoot for the goal.
An easy shooting drill you can practice at home, is to first find a goal and have another person be a goalkeeper.
At a distance of approximately 20 yards, shoot the ball towards the bottom corners of the goal. Another tip is to dribble the ball before sending it towards the corners of the goal with a low, powerful strike.
Your posture is key when shooting, so always ensure your body is over the ball rather than leaning back, as the ball will likely fly over the bar.
As seen earlier, a good header can create golden opportunities to score goals.
As a second striker you can improve this essential skill by practicing with two players.
Have one player act as the goalkeeper and the second as the thrower. The thrower will send the ball towards you which you will then try and get past the goalkeeper only by heading.
You can also have the thrower cross balls at you for varied practice. Do this drill consistently and you will notice your heading abilities improve significantly.
Getting past the opponent team’s defense is essential for a second striker so as to maintain ball control.
Dribbling can easily help you penetrate the defense and also turn or cut with the ball if need be.
To improve your dribbling ability, use small touches to nudge the ball forward. While keeping the ball as close to your feet as possible, move the ball in all directions as you gradually increase your dribbling skills.
You could also do this around cones while constantly changing direction. This drill will help you glide past players easily and create opportunities for your center forward.
Whatever term used to describe this role; deep-lying forward, inside forward or out and out striker, this player lies between the attacking midfield and the striker.
He buffers the striker and makes things happen by making passes through the openings in the opponent’s defense to create shots for his team’s forwards.
Unlike the center forward, the second striker can fall further into the middle of the pitch, help their players dictate possession and pace of the game and then burst forward to get the ball to the striker or score goals themselves.
This requires a player with vision and who can make decisions quick off the mark. The second striker does not necessarily have to be an awesome goal scorer but should have highly creative passing ability to ensure the ball gets to the striker.
The second striker position emerged between the late 1940s and mid-1950s and was later popularized in Italian football as an advanced playmaker whose main responsibility is to assist the striker and dictate game play for his team’s forwards.
Over the years, this role has and continues to change and to show an exemplary way to play the second striker, look at Lionel Messi.
He knows how to get the ball past defenders but is not the primary goal scorer.
Other notable examples include, Alexis Sanchez and Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero.
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