Victor Moses Winger

A Complete Wingers Guide; 10 Tips to take on your man

Wingers have the potential to change a soccer match in seconds. They are technical and offensive. Their main goal is to beat the opposition defenders and make a cross or take a shot.

The best wingers have good close control, know when to take on their man and are determined to create quality chances for their teammates.

Believe it or not, wingers play on each side/wing of the pitch. They tend to play close to the sidelines, however some will cut inside and shoot or drift into the middle when they don't have the ball.

I have already mentioned the 3 best traits for wingers to practice but there's a lot more that a winger needs to stand a chance of becoming a professional.

7 MOST IMPORTANT TRAITS FOR A WINGER

If you excel in these 8 areas, you're either lying or are already a very good player.

#1 - Stamina

Wingers are extremely high impact players. They are the engines of the attack. If they do not have the energy to beat their man, they cannot take a shot or cross to the striker.

Wingers will have to contribute to the defence as well. Not as much as Wide-Midfielders but they'll still require good stamina to get up and down the pitch.

Because it is such a high energy role it's important for wingers to have good stamina. If they don't have good stamina they will be subbed off early in the second half or only used as an impact sub off the bench.

#2 - Close Control

Everyone thinks to be a winger you need pace. This is somewhat true but what good is pace if you can't control the ball at high speeds?

Wingers that can move the ball fast and are able to change direction at any time are very dangerous. This is very hard for clumsy defenders to defend against.

Good close control will also allow you to beat multiple defenders at once. Players like Messi, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne show us just how effective close control can be.

#3 - Speed & Agility

Coupled with great close control, speed & agility can be deadly.

Being incredibly fast will allow you to knock the ball past opposition defenders and beat them in a race. Whereas being agile will allow you to slalom between defenders when getting closed down by multiple defenders.

If you're a winger but you're not the best at dribbling, I'd suggest practicing using these dribbling training drills.

#4 - Strong Weak Foot

It doesn't have to be as good as your strong foot, however being good with both feet adds unpredictability to your game.

Defenders won't be able to show you onto your weaker foot as easy, they'll also not know what you're going to do. Cut in? Take him on and hit the by-line or what?

Keeping the defender guessing will increase your chances of beating the defender as he will have to react to you, rather than predicting your play.

It will also allow your manager to switch you between wings allowing for a more favourable match-up.

#5 - Long & Short Passing 

Most of you probably thought this would be higher up in the list. In the modern game it's not so important for a winger to be good at passing, unless that's the only area he excels in.

If a winger plays direct and runs at full backs, he's going to have to play a short simple pass across goal.

Good passing is a big plus for a winger, but players such as Narsingh & Richarlison get away with poor passing because they're more direct.

#6 - Crossing

Like long & short passing, it used to be a requirement for wingers to be a good ball player. Nowadays we're moving away from complete wingers, into a more direct goal-scoring type.

That's not to say players who can cross are useless, players like Bernardo Silva and Dimitri Payet prove that they can still be very successful at the top level.

#7 - Simplicity

Most of the elite wingers can execute the most outrageous skill moves but choose not to in-game. Why? Because they're not as effective as you'd think.

Sure watching players like Ronaldinho was great, however there's no point spending time trying to perfect skill moves that will only marginally improve your game.

Wingers that like to keep it simple but effective are my personal favourite. You can still add a little flair at times too, don't think that it's a boring way to play.


TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR WING PLAY

It's important that you are always trying to be the best soccer player you can be. 
Use these tips below to improve your game and contribute more to your team.

#1 - Don't be scared to hold the ball

This could be confused with being selfish but it's really not.

A lot of players panic when there's no pass to play or players to beat. Learn to get comfortable with the ball at your feet and introduce hold up play to your game when necessary.

Doing this too much can be negative, it will slow down each and every attack. Only use this when there's absolutely nothing else on.

#2 - Be direct

Wingers should take the game to their opponents. Being direct is a great way to dominate your opposition as a winger.

Whether you're using close control, skill moves or pure pace, being direct will put the defenders under pressure and force them to make tackles that they wouldn't normally make.

Another way to be direct is making early crosses and longer passes however this may not be in your managers game plan.

#3 - Utilise short passes

Defenders will often stand you up and try to jockey you for as long as possible before making the all important tackle. You'll also come up against tight, compact defences where passing is required to break them down.

Playing short one-two passes with your teammates and overlapping full backs will allow you to create space and move the opposition out of position.

Being able to work the oppositions defence is something every attacking player needs to know how to do.

#4 - Mix it up

It doesn't have to be as good as your strong foot, however being good with both feet adds unpredictability to your game.

Defenders won't be able to show you onto your weaker foot as easy, they'll also not know what you're going to do. Cut in? Take him on and hit the by-line or what?

Keeping the defender guessing will increase your chances of beating the defender as he will have to react to you, rather than predicting your play.

It will also allow your manager to switch you between wings allowing for a more favourable match-up.

#5 - Find & Run into space

You always want to be progressing towards the opponents goal however running directly into opponents and clustered spaces is only going to slow down that progression.

If you find space make sure to use it, it will allow you more time on the ball, lower your chances of losing the ball and will allow your teammates to make higher quality runs off the ball.

#6 - Be unpredictable

A lot of players are prone to doing the same thing over and over again. If it's working again & again, sure, milk it until it's dead. Just keep in mind doing the same thing over and over will allow the defender to learn to defend it and also allow him to defend without thinking.

The best wingers switch it up a lot & keep the opposition on their feet. Making the defenders react to you, rather than the reacting to them is going to increase your success in the final third.

#7 - Keep the ball close to your feet

It's so much easier for a defender to win the ball if he doesn't even have to worry about taking it off of a player. Heavy touches and knock ons will lower the chances of you keeping possession.

There is however a couple of times where knocking the ball forward will be successful. Players such as Gareth Bale have this down to a tee.

If Bale is shoulder to shoulder with a defender he's faster than and there's no other opponents closing him down he'll knock the ball forward and outpace his man.

Another example is taking a heavy touch to move the ball around your opponent.  This is called "bridging" and is quite common.

It's a simple "skill move" however you'll need to learn when and where to use it otherwise you'll end up losing the ball a lot.

#8 - The Cruyff Turn

I cannot begin to tell you how important this simple turn is. It's the first skill move you should teach to new soccer players, it's so simple but so effective.

Watch & learn how to do the cruyff turn:
This skill move will sell your defender and create more time and space for you to play the ball or change running direction. While it is incredibly effective, don't overuse it and become predictable.

#9 - Track back & do your defensive duties

You may be an attacking player but that's no reason not to graft when your team is on the back foot (Unless your manager tells you to stay forward).

Putting hard tackles in and winning the ball back will allow you to do the more fun part of your job... ATTACK. It will also alleviate a bit of pressure from your teammates knowing that they'll always have someone else closing down with them.

#10 - Improve your stamina

Wingers that contribute a lot to the defensive phase will also need to improve their stamina. Improving your stamina is a lot more than just prolonged sessions of low intensity cardio.

I suggest signing up to the gym and doing some high rep, low rest interval squatting and deadlifting to improve your muscular endurance too.

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