The midfield position is one of the most difficult positions on the soccer pitch, and this position places several demands on players who are playing midfield. Midfielders must develop strong awareness of the game, and astute alertness to what’s going on around them.
One of the keys to success for a midfield player is to develop good positional play. This is because midfielders must link up with the forward line during attack. They also have to support wide midfielders down the channels, and contribute to defense with players that are positioned behind them.
In order to maintain awareness of all that’s going on around them, central midfielders must develop sound peripheral vision. This will allow them to know where the ball is at all times, and stay on top of where the game is currently taking place on the pitch, as well as the length and breadth of the pitch.
Because central midfield players are critical to controlling the game, it is a position that must be filled by the right character. Here are some traits that strong midfield players should possess:
· Mental strength
· Solid discipline
· Physical strength
· Ability to cope with demands of moving from box to box
· First rate technical ability when on the ball
· Strong communication and organizational skills
While these traits represent the type of player that is suitable for the central midfield position, there are also seven key requirements that this position demands. Knowing these requirements will help you coach the central midfielders more successfully.
1. A central midfielder’s main objective is to create dangerous situations in front of the opponents’ goal. If you’re like me, and prefer your teams to play an open and attacking style, it’s important for central midfielders to be at the heart of this style of play.
2. Central midfield players must have the ability to plan ahead, and always remain a few steps of head of where the game is currently being played out.
3. These players need to take up their positions in relation to which team is in possession of the ball. Through positional play, central midfielders can be instrumental in orchestrating attacks, and they can be equally devastating to opponents when they close down options.
4. The central midfield pairings should always be able to communicate with one another. This is true whether they are playing laterally in a flat midfield or staggered in a diamond-based system. Balance is essential.
5. Central midfielders must have the capacity to instantly recognize when it is safe for them to move forward, getting numbers in front of the ball. They also must be able to recognize when a defensive approach is needed to get numbers behind the ball.
6. A central midfield player has to see the whole playing field, and must be able to seize opportunities for their own team while simultaneously looking for ways to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses.
7. Central midfielders must have excellent ball control, be able to receive under pressure, and maintain possession. They also must be adept at accurate passing and quick interplay. One touches and the use of wall passes are common strategies that midfield generals should employ.
Academic studies show that the human brain can cope with just seven thoughts in the conscious mind at any given time. In order to keep things simple for our central midfielders, these seven key requirements are just enough, but not too much, to help ensure that they’ll stay on the game and win it!