New soccer players often have a difficult time choosing what position to play, especially if they’re unsure of the difficulty level of each position. One of the easiest positions to play on the field is the center-back position for various reasons, but what is the hardest position to play?
The hardest position to play in soccer is the goalkeeper. This is because goalies need a particular skillset that differs from other players and they have extra responsibility, so they must perform under that added pressure. Mistakes made by the goalie can compromise the hard work of the team.
To learn more about the goalie position, what makes it the hardest position to play, and some of the other difficult positions you might play on the field, continue reading!
Why the goalie position is the hardest to play
Many people think that because goalkeepers don’t move across the field as the other players do, it’s the easiest position to play. This is because the goal is often where most people have their attention when a team is about to strike, so there is this added pressure that all eyes are on you and your team is dependent on you being the last resort for defending the goal.
As for the players of other positions, if they make a mistake, it will often go unnoticed, and the other players will pick up the slack. But, if the goalie makes a mistake, it could compromise all the hard work the other players made to get the ball to the goal, and it could even cost your team the game.
There’s no one that can pick up the slack if you make a mistake because your main responsibility as the goalie is to create a barrier between the ball and the goal and to prevent the ball from striking. The responsibility to be precise and ensure not to make a mistake adds a great deal of pressure on the goalie.
Luckily for new players, a coach likely isn’t going to ask an inexperienced player to be a goalie unless they notice some qualities in that player that would make for a great goalkeeper. Coaches also tend to ask the tallest player on the team to play goalie, because they have more height to defend more goal space. Some of the skills or qualities that they might notice in a player and ask them to play goalkeeper include:
- Physically fit and fast
- Great hand-eye coordination
- Team leader and great communication
- Performs well under pressure
- Ability to jump, leap, and dive the height and width of the soccer goal
- Strong and resilient
- Good focus and alertness
- Accurate positional awareness
- Accurate distribution, deflection, and aim
- Great reflexes and foresight
- Confident and acts on instincts
- Quick decision maker
Times when playing goalie is easy
While goalkeeper is the hardest position in soccer, it’s not always that way. Sometimes, the position requires more work with the mind than the body, especially when the ball is on the other side of the field. At this point, you’ll just need to track the ball with your eyes and stay prepared for the ball to strike at any moment, especially as it gets closer.
While tracking the ball, and whenever it hasn’t yet been kicked toward your team’s goal, you’ll want to keep a proper goalie stance which includes a slightly crouched position with your feet apart and your weight distributed slightly forward so that you’re ready for whatever move you have to make to block the ball.
Another time when being the goalkeeper becomes easy is when you play for a really good team. Teams with players that act as great defenses who don’t take too many risks will make the job of being a goalkeeper easier. A great defense is also better at preventing the ball from ever hitting the goal, so you, as the goalie won’t have to catch or deflect the ball quite as much as you would for a team with a poorer skillset.
While the other team doesn’t pose a threat to the goal and the defense is working well to defend their goal, the goalkeeper’s job is mostly to not only stay on the alert but also to coach the other players. So long as leading comes naturally to the goalkeeper and the opposing team doesn’t strike too many balls past the penalty line, the game will go pretty smoothly for the goalkeeper. That said, the poorer the team plays against the opposing team, the more work the goalkeeper will need to put in to make up for it.
Other difficult soccer positions
The goalkeeper is not the only position that is difficult to play in comparison to others, as there are many positions that have a unique level of difficulty similar to the goalkeeper. What’s likely agreed upon to be the hardest soccer position aside from goalkeeper, or is often argued to be more difficult than goalkeeper, is the defensive midfielder. This person starts out in front of their team and closest to the center line, and they’re the first line of defense when the ball crosses over that center line.
This is considered the most demanding outfield position, as they have to be able to deflect opposing teams’ attacks, coach the rest of the on-field defense team, strategize, and be able to give a great first pass of the game. Much like the goalkeeper, the defensive midfielder acts as a buffer between the opposing team’s attacks and the goal. This player should also be resilient and able to correct any mistakes made by other players on their team.
Another difficult position is the attacking midfielder, which is often referred to as the playmaker. This person starts the game off by standing in the middle of the field, behind the defensive midfielder and in front of the goalie. These players must be able to watch what’s going on around them at all times and be able to think ahead so that they can be one or two steps ahead of their teammates and opposing team players.
What is the easiest soccer position?
While soccer players and soccer enthusiasts alike argue about what position is the easiest, especially considering that each position has a unique set of responsibilities and pressures, many would argue that the easiest soccer position is the center back.
This is because it doesn’t require the same amount of skill, it’s comprised of two players on the team rather than one, and these players don’t need to be quite as fast or physical as the other players. Instead, a majority of the job of the center-back is to read how the opposition is trying to attack so that they can defend their team before the ball gets close to the goal.