Positions on a Soccer Team

Part of the Soccer For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Each soccer team has 11 players — 1 goalkeeper and 10 field players. Every player, whether playing an offensive or defensive position, works to help the team score goals — and to prevent the other team from scoring. The following list explains the role of each general position on the field:

  • Goalkeeper: The keeper is the only player allowed to use his hands, and that activity is restricted to the rectangular penalty area extending 18 yards from each side of the goal.

  • Defenders: They play in front of the goalkeeper, and their primary duty is to stop the opposition from scoring. Outside fullbacks play on the left and right flanks and rarely move from their sides of the field. Central defenders play in the middle of the field and usually cover the opposition’s leading goal scorer or center forward(s).

  • Midfielders: These players are the link between the defense and attack. Midfielders must be the most physically fit players on the field because they are expected to run the most in a game. They should be able to penetrate deep in enemy territory on attack and make the transition to defense when the opposition retains possession of the ball.

  • Forwards: Their primary job is to score goals or to create them for teammates. A center forward, also known as a striker, should be a team’s leading goal scorer and the most dangerous player in the attacking third of the field.

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