One of the biggest challenges I dealt with as a youth soccer coach is how to handle weaker players.
Coaches of a professional team may tell you the best place for a weaker player is the bench. That’s not really an option for youth teams, nor is it a good strategy for developing passion or skills in players.
Weaker players need to play to get better, but at the same time, you don’t want it to hurt the entire team.
Ultimately, there is no “easy” position in soccer, but it’s often best to put weaker players at wide forward since this position is furthest from your own goal. It’s difficult to defend when the pressure is on.
However, to determine the best position for a weaker player on your team, you must assess several factors including their specific strengths and weaknesses, your other players, and your style of play.
What soccer position is the easiest?
Simply put, no soccer position is “easy”. Each position requires different strengths and skills. However, players with certain weaknesses fit better in some positions than others.
Here are some examples of the skills that different positions do not require:
Goalkeeper – What skills are not required
Goalkeepers are your last line of defense, and their #1 job is to keep the ball out of the back of the net. They are also able to use their hands within the box.
While the position is becoming increasingly important for possession soccer, goalkeepers generally do not need:
- To be able to run for long distances/ have running stamina.
- Elaborate foot skills (dribbling/ moves).
- The same level of ball handling as other positions.
Defenders – What skills are not required
Defenders play an important role in keeping the ball away from your goal and starting the attack. However, most often defenders don’t require:
- The same level of conditioning as some other positions.
- Extensive dribbling skills.
- Great shooting abilities.
- To be able to play in very tight spaces or amongst a ton of pressure.
Midfielders – What skills are not required
Midfielders hold down the middle of the pitch, as they are involved in both the defense and attack. They are masters of transition, and they cover the most distance in the game.
Midfielders tend to be well-rounded, proficient in all major skills but they may lack a standout strength. Compared to some other positions midfielders may not:
- Be as fast or explosive.
- Require as much shooting.
- Be the best at defending.
- Have a standout skill that sets them apart.
Forwards – What skills are not required
Forwards are the primary players that score goals. They must be willing to take shots and attack balls in the 18, but they may not:
- Be the best with the ball technically.
- Defend extremely well.
- Have the best tactical vision on the field.
What is the least important position in soccer?
Every soccer position plays an important role on the team. There is not a single position that does not matter. Some of the least risky positions for your team would be;
- Outside Backs
- Wide Midfield
- Second Striker
Many people may think the forwards are the most important. You do need at least one goal to win, and goals are hard to come by in soccer. However, you must defend far more than you score.
You can get away with not scoring a lot of goals, but you cannot get away with giving up a lot of goals. Based on this, it’s important to prioritize defense and midfield with strong players.
If you’re in need of a goal in the second half, you can take the risk of playing your weaker player in a defensive position, so that you have your best players in attack.
Where do you put the weakest soccer player?
Assess the player’s weaknesses and strengths, find a weakness in the opposition and position that player based on those two factors, but limit the risk by avoiding the central positions.
Oftentimes, you’ll hear “forward” as an answer. In some cases, a wide forward is a good place to put a weaker player. But in reality, there’s no set answer. You put the weakest soccer player in your team based on the following:
- The player’s strengths.
- The player’s weaknesses.
- Your formation.
- Your strong players and where they will play.
- Your style of play.
Where you put “weaker” players depends on what makes them “weak.” First, you must determine the areas of improvement for the player.
Examples of fundamentals soccer players can struggle with
- Fitness and conditioning Physical strength
- Passing (accuracy)
- Dribbling/ 1v1 attacking
- Shooting (power and/or accuracy)
- Tactical understanding of the game
- Decision making
- Ball control/ trapping
Based on the specific areas the player struggles in, you can find a suitable position for them. Look for a position that plays to their strengths, hides their weaknesses, and helps (not hurts) your team.
For example, many coaches may have viewed me as a “weaker” player in youth soccer because I struggled with ball handling and long passes . However, I was a strong defender who excelled athletically.
Based on that combination, it would not make sense to put me as a forward. Outside back was a good spot to showcase my strengths while protecting the team from my weaknesses by pushing me wider than center back.
What position does the worst soccer player play?
The worst soccer player should play in a position that matches their skillset without exposing the team.
Many times, the “worst” player is put in an outside wing or wide forward position. However, assess the specific situation when choosing a position.
Youth coaches often have to deal with multiple weak players. In that case, it’s best to have your strongest players in the center of the pitch.
You want to ensure your defenders are very solid players as well as your central midfielders. Place the weaker players more toward the outside of the field.
Ultimately, coaches need to evaluate which aspects a player struggles in when choosing a position. Generally, it’s not wise to put weaker players as central defenders or central midfielders due to the importance of those roles.
By placing weaker players strategically, you can aid their development while also setting your team up for success.
I’ve played soccer across the U.S.A, Europe and I’ve coached many teams. Soccer is life for me, and with my experience in the game, I want to share my insights into the beautiful game with you.
Joel Powel – Soccer Blade