14 Essential Soccer Skills for Forwards! (With Drills)

soccer skills for forwards

For a soccer team, most goals are scored by forwards! That’s why making sure to have quality ones in a team, will increase chances of scoring more goals, thus winning more games …

… In this article, I breakdown 14 highly important soccer skills that any forward needs to perform at the best of his abilities and contribute to the success of this team.

Let’s dive in!

Important Tip: To properly practice those skills, I strongly recommend to use soccer shoes with decent Quality  and reliable Grip to perform at the best of your abilities. You can have a quick look at these quality soccer cleats to get an idea!

1. Shooting

Shooting is very important for strikers; it is about taking a long shot, shot from a distance at trying to score.

Repetition is the best way to practice it. Set up a drill together with a teammate.

Position a square area made of cones at 20 yards distance from goal. Play one-two pass with a teammate and take a shot from the marked area.

You should try shooting from different angles at the goal, from left, right side and the middle. Five repetitions from each angle.

Being better at shooting will make you a clinical striker and more effective in making the use of small space in front of opponents’ goal.

2. Finishing

Essential skill for forwards and it is not the same thing as shooting. Finishing is a skill of managing to score when you are close to goal.

This is the skill of taking the opportunity of crossed balls and balls passed into the box, and scoring a goal. Being good at it is what makes you a quality forward.

Many drills can help you become better at it…

The simple and effective drill is to set up two cones at 20 yards distance from goal. This will be your starting point.

From here, you just need to roll the ball forward, which simulates passing the ball into the box. When you get to the ball, shoot it and aim low and close to the post.

You are guiding the ball into the corners of the goal. This exercise will greatly improve your 1 on 1 game when faced with a goalkeeper.

It should be done with both feet, first right, then left, and around 10 repetitions with each foot.

In addition, the variation of this drill done from the side of the goal is equally important.

Place the ball diagonally to the goal, first right, then left from the goal. When coming to the goal from an angle, goalkeepers tend to place themselves in line with the near post, in order to shorten and cover all the angles to the goal.

Your task in this drill is to roll the ball upfront and take a shot at far post. Great way to practice is to put cones near posts, and aim for that narrow space.

3. Pass Receiving

This skill will allow forwards to collect the ball and put it under control. Players that are good at it can receive both on and off ground passes and exploit the space in front of the opponent’s goal.

Mastering the skill of pass receiving is extremely important for a striker with the role of target man. Players in this role are the ones that often must receive long passes and create a chance for their teammate or for themselves.

Great drill to become better at this skill is to set up two cones in front of the goal.

One will be your starting position, where you should receive the pass from a teammate.

You must receive the ball and put it under control, dribble around the second cone and shoot at the goal.

4. Dribbling

Forwards are often the ones that have a high level of dribbling ability alongside with midfielders! This skill refers to a player’s ability to move the ball up and down the field, without losing control of it.

That way forwards can successfully pass by their opponents and keep the possession of the ball.

Basic drill that is quite effective and one of the most used drills is cone dribbling.

Set up several cones in a row and dribble the ball around them. You can do it with one and both feet.

This will improve your ball control and make you feel comfortable moving the ball with different parts of your foot.

You can use many variations. Set up a square from cones. From the starting position run to the next cone, dribble around and make a run to the next one.

5. Passing

Although passing is something that is considered as essential for midfielders, it is actually quite an important skill to improve if you are a forward.

So, why is passing important to forwards? Even though they are the ones expected to finish the attacking movement with a shot at the goal, sometimes forwards are not in position to endanger the goal themselves.

In times, the preferable option is to send the ball further to your teammate, which is in a better position to score. This is quite often if the forward is at the role of target man. Good passing skill is crucial in these situations.

When we speak about passing skill for forwards, considering the situations they are in during the attack, it is important for them to improve their short passing.

One drill that can help you improve this skill is to set up a row of cones. Together with your partner, you pass the ball to each other between the cones and move down the row.

You can also set cones inside the box that represent target positions, all of different colors.

Position yourself at top of the box with back to the goal, receive the pass from your partner, turn around and send the ball to the color your partner called.

This will not only improve your passing, but also your vision of the field!

Harry Kane is a great example of a forward that has an amazing not only short, but also a long pass.

He is often the one that goes back at his own half, gets the ball and sends it all the way to a teammate in front of the opponent’s goal.

Although a forward at the role of target man, his passing skill is the reason why he is now leading in assists in Premier League.

Keep in mind, that overall passing is an easy skill that you can lear … You can also learn about other easy to learn soccer skill!

6. Body Endurance

This is the ability to continue playing at the same level of fitness and strength after a certain time.

This is what helps players play the entire 90 minutes of the game. As with the players on some other positions, so it is the skill essential for forwards too.

Without adequate level of endurance, forwards could not handle the constant pressure of defenders and stay at their feet when tackled.

Drills that can help you improve your endurance are shuttle runs.

This is quite a popular fitness technique. Set up cones or some other markers at different distances, first one at 10 yards, second at 20 yards, etc.

Run to the first mark, touch the ground, and then run back. Now, run to the second mark, touch the ground and again run back to the starting line. Continue until the last mark.

7. Agility

As forwards must exploit small space upfront, or around their defenders, it is of great importance to increase agility level.

In fact, improved agility will ensure you can move quickly, while keeping the balance of your body. That way, you will be in position to exploit open space in the front.

Crosshairs is an amazing drill to improve your agility. Make a cross of five cones, with one cone set in the middle.

You start from any outside cones, and position your body for a lower center of gravity. Run to the middle cone as fast as you can, turn to the right and run to the outside cone on the right side.

Run around the cone, and then return to the middle cone.

Now repeat 90 degrees turn, and proceed to the next outside cone. Do that until returning to the starting position and then do it again but now with the left turn.

8. Speed

Speed is an important part of every forward playing ability. This is often the main characteristic of offensive soccer players.

Forwards that are quite fast can easily beat their opponents when running toward the ball to win possession, or when running with the ball past them!

Calf jumps, jump squats and high knees are great exercises to warm up and boost your speed level gradually.

Shuttles are also a great way to improve. You can also set up a track from cones for sprint runs. Those are all the ways to enhance your speed ability.

You can also combine sprint without the ball and dribbling as fast as you can around the cones with the ball.

Run as fast as possible to a target cone, collect the ball and then dribble around cones line up in a row in front of the goal. Finish the drill with shot at the goal.

9. Space Awareness

Forwards, as the other players, must be aware of the space around them!

This is the only way for them to take advantage of open space and potential chances for goals. They must always be aware of the position of the ball, and their teammates’ positions.

Only then, they can exploit open space in the front to create an opportunity for themselves or their teammates.

One important tip to keep in mind here is to keep the head up, when moving with and without the ball. That way you can stay focused and make use of the space in the best way possible.

10. Quick First Step

Forwards must always be on alert and ready to react almost instantly when a chance occurs. Sometimes you have only one chance to use it, and you have to be ready for it.

Having a quick first step allows you to get the upper edge and get to the ball before your opponents. It is also useful when dribbling, as it will help you escape your defenders much easier.

Plyometric exercises are a great way to become a more explosive player. Jumping, sprinting, hurdle jumps, all makes limber leg muscles stronger and increases your quickness.

11. Heading

Heading is one of the main weapons in the front of an opponent’s goal and represents the way to make use of your teammate’s long passes and crosses.

In addition, being good at heading is essential for forwards with a target man role. It is used as a tool to direct the ball to your teammates and continue the play of your team.

Practice with your partner hitting the ball with your head while jumping.

Your teammate throws the ball to you with his arms, your job is to jump and return the ball to him with your head.

Jumping adds some power to your hit and allows you to get to the ball sooner. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure your header is going straight to your partner’s hands and is not going high in the air like a defensive header.

12. Composure

Keeping composure under pressure in front of the opponent net is often what makes the difference between a good forward and an average one!

Indeed, forwards are under constant monitoring by defenders and have to stay concentrated in those situations.

If they are nervous when having the ball in the opponent’s box, they cannot make right decisions and endanger the goal. Forwards must stay calm, feel secure and have the situation under control.

Practice 1 vs 2, or even 1 vs 3 situations at training. Doing these drills will help you stay alert and learn how to cope with pressure.

13. Creativity

While dealing with a solid defensive team leaving almost no space for you to score, then creativity is often the answer to such situations!

Look at some of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi decisive Goals, most of them represent their sense of creativity that took defenders off-guard!

Working on improving your technical abilities may make you a more versatile player, capable of choosing among many available options.

Practice trick shots and passes from different angles, with obstacles placed around the field. Do this as a part of individual training sessions.

Watch some YouTube freestyle videos and try doing it by yourself.

14. Overall IQ

There is no way to become a clinical striker if you do not work on improving your soccer IQ!

This represents the ability to analyze all the conditions and understand what is happening on the field.

Understanding the game better will uplift your game level and make you a smarter player.

Best way to improve soccer intelligence aka IQ is to watch videos of forwards and the goals they’ve scored.

Take a closer look, analyze their movement and decision, and use that knowledge when in similar situations. Learn from the masters of the game.

Final Thoughts …

The skills I’ve mentioned above were not chosen randomly, these are the outcome of analyzing a ton of successful forwards/strikers over the years! Even the legendary ones like Maradona, Pele and DI Stefano …

… They were successful for a reason! And this is obviously those skills that I’ve just listed!

I am not really asking you to master all those skills, I am only asking you to focus on 5 of those that are the most appealing to you by practicing some of the drills I’ve talked about, and then go from there.

Lastly, I highly encourage you to learn more about these important defenders soccer skills … You will learn a Lot!

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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