How to Be a Superior Playmaker in Soccer? (Detailed Guide!)

soccer playmaker

You can have the best strikers, the best defenders, the best goalkeeper and even great midfielders on a soccer team! However, if you don’t have a good enough playmaker you won’t be able to take advantage of your team’s abilities …

… In fact, playmakers are the master piece that usually makes or breaks a team!

In this article, I breakdown what it takes to be a great playmaker and contribute to the success of your team.

Attributes that playmakers should have …

Any playmaker in modern soccer must possess some basic but crucial characteristics to properly fulfill his role!

Below are the main attributes in my humble opinion:

Good passing game: The key necessary element for a good game organizer is the passing skill. The playmaker is involved in almost every action of his team. He represents the link between the defensive and the attacking part, and is the main distributor of the ball towards the attackers.

Often his passes go straight towards the opponent’s goal. A feature of a playmaker should be a quick reaction and fast handover of the ball.

Game Overview: This is very important for a playmaker in soccer. He must have control over the game and be in charge of the rhythm of his team’s play.

A good overview of the game allows him to distribute the ball throughout the field and create goal opportunities for his teammates.

Ball Control: The player in this position should distinguish himself with exceptional technique and ball control ability. Opponents often put him under pressure, so he must save the ball from them and at the same time make it possible for the action to continue.

Important Tip: Playmakers usually have a playing style that requires a strong Grip to quickly change directions & perform at the best of their abilities. One Tip to help improve this capability is to use Soccer Shoes with a good Grip. You can have a quick look at these quality soccer cleats to get an idea!

Creativity: It is a feature of players who can come out with great solutions and ideas for attacking players in the team. Creative players characterize themselves as the ones with a good vision of the game and space awareness, and have appropriate technical attributes to make their idea come true.

If you are a playmaker in your team, you have to think outside the box and find new ways to jeopardize an opponent’s goal.

Decision Making: Playmaker should know what to do with the ball before he even gets it. He must analyze all the factors on the field, movements of his teammates and opponents, ball direction, and to evaluate all the alternatives on time, so he can react as soon as possible when the ball gets to him.

If you are at this role, you must be able to play the game of one or two touches. Quick decisions are a feature of intelligent players, which is why this is the critical role for a team’s success.

Learn more about decision making in soccer!

How to improve as a playmaker in soccer?

1. Work on your passing game

Every playmaker should excel when it comes to his technical abilities. Therefore, working on all elements of technique is crucial for a player in this position.

Exercises of passing with the inner and outer part of the foot, as well as playing short and long passes is very important.

Significant thing to mention here is that the most important part of a playmaker’s passing game is precision…

… Indeed, the teammate must be able to receive the ball in an appropriate way and without much trouble, so he can continue with the action as fast as possible.

If the passes are inaccurate, the team loses possession and now has the potential problem of the opponent’s counterattack.

2. Practice timely play

Another important feature of a playmaker that needs constant work is timing!

You have to practice on fast handover of the ball forward. Modern soccer requires players who are looking for quick and timely solutions.

Excessive ball retention and solo actions can slow down your team’s action and pace of the play, which allows opposing players to gain some time and prepare their defensive line.

The advice for every playmaker is to play quickly and with ease. Timing is also very important for avoiding the opponent’s offside traps and exploiting that empty space.

Practice with a teammate running counter attack at full speed!

Your task is to send him the long ball into the open space in front of him. This will improve your passing timing, as kicking the ball little bit sooner, or later than you should, will send the ball farther or closer than the attacker’s position.

3. Increase your reaction speed

The playmaker must constantly work on a quick handover of the ball!

Passing can be after one touch, after two touches (ball reception and pass), or after three or more touches when the player moves the ball around after reception.

That is why it is very important constantly to work on the skill of receiving the ball. Taking the ball away from the opponent and turning towards the opponent’s goal are very important for the quick delivery of the ball.

The playmaker should play as fast as possible and try to deliver the ball after the first or second touch.

A quick handover of the ball is associated with an overview of the game. The playmaker must constantly work on quick solutions and knowledge of the movements of his teammates.

Before receiving the ball, he must know where to give the pass. The midfielder’s job is to know where he is on the field and what is happening around him.

One drill you can do to practice faster decision making and reaction is to practice turning to the side.

  • In this exercise, you should work on receiving the ball with your body positioned to the side.
  • Let your teammate pass you the ball, while you practice positioning the body to the side. After you receive the ball, send it forward to a teammate on the other side.
  • Now repeat the drill in the opposite direction.
  • When you are faced toward the ball, you cannot see defenders coming at you from behind. Also, you have no idea where your teammates are, which slows down your speed of reaction.

By turning to the side, you have a better overview of the game and can make a decision to pass even before the ball comes to your possession.

4. Communicate effectively with your teammates.

Communication is another important improvement aspect to grow as a playmaker!

The latter, must be in constant interaction with all teammates. This does not refer only to verbal communication. Playmaker and his teammates must have established good visual communication and body language.

That way their communication can be done at distance and much simpler. This ensures swiftly understanding and increases the reaction of the playmaker, as he can improve his play timing this way.

In addition, he must always move around when without the ball, so he can stay open for his teammates and ask for the ball.

Play a 5 v 5 game without speaking. This simple drill will make you watch for the signs from your teammates during the game and develop your visual communication level.

Tactical positions that a playmaker can take

False 9

The position of the false nine is very similar to the offensive midfielder.

The advantage of this position is that this player is very difficult to guard due to his constant movement and rapid pace change.

This player moves back to pick up the ball in place of the offensive midfielder and pulls out the central defenders of the opposing team, thus leaving the room for teammates from the back to run into open space.

After disturbing the defensive line, false nine distributes the ball to teammates up front, exploiting the empty space created.

Classic 10

The position of the classic ten in soccer, mostly the position of central midfielder, it has always been considered as the role of playmaker on the field!

Many famous players in the history of soccer have played in this position. The classic top ten tasks in the past were creating a play for others, without any defensive tasks.

Everything revolved around them and they were the main weapon of a team’s attack. Over time, soccer has become a more dynamic and physically demanding sport, so the role of the classic ten has changed.

Defensive responsibilities are now mandatory for the players in that position!

They have to help in the defensive actions of their team and constantly put pressure on the opponent’s defense, to close the attacking lines of the opponent’s team, trying to exploit the open space for their teammates and create counter attack.

Their role is of massive impact on a team’s play, both in the offensive and defensive sense.

Number 6

A playmaker as a six, or a defensive midfielder, is a player who stands between the defense and the midfield of his team.

His main task is to transfer the ball between these two lines of the team. When the team keeps the ball in its half, its task is to pass the ball to the attackers.

He has a lot of freedom in the attack, but also a vast defensive responsibility, as he is in the last line of midfield area.

It takes a high level of fitness for a player of this type!

Pass game, vision, ball control, opening into empty space, great strength for duel game, are very important attributes for a player of this profile.

Also, when it comes to passing game, considering they play at positions deep and far from the attacking line, players at this position should have a greatly developed long passing skill.

Number 7

Position seven is an advanced midfielder and is a game organizer playing on the sidelines.

These players expand the opponent’s defense when their team has the ball, while narrowing the space in the middle of the field when the opponent has the ball.

Their movement is larger than is any other player’s in the field and the players in this position are often characterized with good duel game, as they are often under opponent’s pressure.

Considering they will always be the target of opposing players, they should have good dribbling ability.

You can learn more about these other soccer positions adapted for skills players

Importance of a playmaker in a soccer team …

The playmaker is considered by many as the most important position in the team!

He is the creator of the game and represents the extended hand of the coach on the field and his tactical ideas.

Again, he has the task of organizing the game of his team and participating in the movement of the ball from the defensive line to the attackers.

The playmaker’s visual perception of the field allows him to know what to do with the ball before receiving it. Players in this position must always be one-step ahead of everyone else on the field.

It depends on the players in this position how much the team will be able to hold the ball in their possession and how they will make use of that particular possession.

Without players of this profile, the team cannot go through with their tactical ideas!

Considering all these facts, it is fair to say that the position of playmaker is the most important position in a soccer team, as he is the one that connects all the players and makes them work as a group.

Is a playmaker a good position for beginners?

Putting a young player in the position of playmaker can have its advantages and disadvantages!

If the club works properly on the development of player in this role, it will develop the ability of the game organizer in the end. The young player is definitely eager to prove himself and that is very important for the position of playmaker.

On the other hand, inexperience, lack of patience and coping with pressure, are some of the negative sides of putting a young player at this crucial role for the team.

It is difficult to explain to a young player that he has to be patient. You need to know when to slow down the rhythm of the game and hold the ball.

When a young player gets this task of high importance, the huge expectations of the teammates, fans and the coaches put additional pressure on him.

It is important not to put excessive expectations on the youngster, but to have patience. These kinds of situations will make him better and mentally stronger every time, slowly developing him into a quality player over time.

How hard is it to be a playmaker?

The position of playmaker is quite demanding!

Unlike defensive players who participate in the opening stages of the play, or attackers who participate in the final stage, the play of the whole team relies on the playmaker.

He connects the game of the whole team, participates in the opening of the attack, but also in its ending.

Since the playmaker is in the middle of the field, his radius of movement is the largest of all players on the field.

He participates in defensive and offensive actions, as the ball movement and the pace of the game are his responsibility.

Famous Successful Playmakers …

The best players in the playmaker position are mostly players from the midfield part of a team!

Some amazingly gifted and skilled ones include:

  • Xavi Hernandez
  • Andrea Pirlo
  • Luka Modric

Their technical perfection and outstanding ball control made their game look like a magic on the field.

Often, their play was compared to a maestro leading an orchestra. They are responsible for the flow of every attacking move.

What made them great was also their perfect overview of the game, especially finding an open space in front for a pass and assisting their teammates.

Many people around the world considered themselves privileged able to see these three true virtuosos of soccer.

Final Thoughts …

First, hope this article was not too long for your liking! I, generally, don’t like writing too long of articles to not cause any boredom. However, I felt that this topic is important enough and that it’s worth expanding on it …

… Hope you’ve found it useful!

Finally, even if you are not currently playing in this position or don’t even intend to play in it … It is still worth having the skills I’ve mentioned above! Indeed, even a pure defender might find himself in a position where he needs to assist a striker.

So, don’t sleep on those skills and work on them as much as you possibly can!

Finally, I highly invite you to learn about the role of number 8 position in soccer! You’ll find the post quite helpful …

Claressa Cormier

Claressa Cormier has over 15 years of soccer experience between playing the sport at a semi-professional level, following the biggest soccer teams & leagues out there as well as helping beginners to get started on the right foot.

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