Many footballer’s are forced to play positions they are not fully conformable or confident playing in. It can be difficult to understand which position best suits your style of play and physical attributes. Many players will play multiple positions over their career and will fail to master a single position. Having said that, it can be beneficial to have a diverse skill set on the pitch and be able to play 2-3 positions, however, it can also hinder your progression and development as a footballer.
Over my football career I have played 6 positions; 7 if you’re counting when I was a goalkeeper in kindergarten. I played every position on the backline when I was in high school, I was a forward in middle school, a CDM in college, and a RB and CB in Germany. So, how do you choose a permanent football position? There are 3 easy steps:
Step 1: Understanding your preferences
The first question you have to ask yourself in order to choose a position is what do you like most about playing football? Obviously, we all like scoring goals, but if it was that easy then we would all be forwards or strikers. There has to be something beyond scoring goals that you like.The honest truth is that we all like doing different things on the pitch. Every player has their own personal preferences. A great way you can figure out what you like most about the beautiful game is by watching your favorite players. What attracts you to their style of play? Why do you consistently come back to watch them play? Once you understand what you admire about these players, you will begin to realize what position(s) you like best.
Step 2: Recognizing your biggest attributes
There is a big difference between what you like and what you are actually good at. We all have different strengths, weaknesses and attributes. In order to become a quality player you have to learn how to use your strengths to your advantage. Some players might be fast, others might be tall and slow. Whatever our attributes as a footballer are, we need to determine our playing style and position based off our individual characteristics. Every position on the field has a physical and mental prototype (profile) of who could play well in that position. Learn about each football position and see what attributes (physical, mental) best suit you.
Step 3: Adapting to the game.
Believe it or not, most soccer players do not play their whole careers in the same position. They have to adapt depending on the circumstances of the game, their age, coaches, team tactics, etc. Maybe you choose a position today, but 5 years from now you will be playing in a different part of the field. Here are a couple of examples:
Gareth Bale: Started playing as left full back back for Tottenham.
Jerome Boateng: Started playing as a striker, and ended playing as central defender for Bayern Munich.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Back in Manchester United he played as a pure winger. Today he plays more as a pure striker.
Ashley Young: Started his career as an offensive winger, now plays as a full back.
The lesson that needs to be learned from this is that, if you want to be a starter and play for the best clubs in the world, you will need to adapt and be able to play the position that the team needs you to play, not necessarily the position you want to play in.