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How to play football as an attacking midfielder

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Player and Positional Analysis: How to play football as an attacking midfielder – The Role of an attacking Midfielder e.g Jay-Jay Okocha

Each day, coaches come up with ideas to improve their players to better fit in with their tactics and the overall tactics [speaking to youth development in football] of world class coaches.

After identifying or scouting an attacking midfielder, the next process is to help them discover their best roles or functions.

MUST READ: What football scouts look for in football Players

This is a tedious and time consuming process for both the coach and the player [attacking midfielder].

The attacking midfielder is often referred to as the ‘free roam’ position as they are given a license to drift into spaces anywhere along the front line to exploit.

Attacking midfielders are relied upon to look for and receive the ball, control and pass it with confidence, and always aim to move up the pitch and create chances for their team. They help link the midfield and attack, often operating in the areas between the central midfielder and center forward.

Despite the role of an attacking midfielder being primarily offensive, many modern day coaches will also task their attacking midfielders to track back and support during defensive play, marking opponents, intercepting passes while also creating counter-attacking opportunities.

But because attacking midfielders are always looking to create space, they will often stay in advanced positions when their team is defending, looking for the holes in the opposition’s midfield and finding the right moment to unlock their creative spark and pounce.


However, how do you play then as an attacking midfielder?

How to play as an attacking midfielder


  • Always be checking your shoulder when waiting to receive a pass, in order to see how much space you have and to plan what you are going to do with the ball once you get it.
  • Picking up the correct positions is an integral part of this role, try to find the space in between the opposition’s defensive and midfield lines.
  • Try and keep touches on the ball to a minimum- allows the team to play more fluently but it makes the job of the opposition player marking you much harder.
  • Get as close to the other attacking players as possible to give them quick/easy options if they receive the ball.


  • If your team is getting overrun in midfield it may be worth dropping back in to give additional support.
  • If your team decides to press the ball, make sure you press as a team. If your attackers start to press that is a trigger for you to do the same.
  • Try to limit the opposition’s defensive midfield player playing – a lot of their play should go through them.
  • If the opposition defence has the ball and your team isn’t pressing, try to cut of the passing lines from their defence into midfield.


Key Attributes of an Attacking Midfielder

Attacking midfield is a position that focuses on creativity, flair, and team play. For one to perform the key duties of this position, it’s important that players have a range of qualities such as;

  • Excellent positioning
  • Great passer
  • Excels at First Touch
  • Using both feet
  • Great at shooting
  • Excels at dribbling
  • Great at Ball control
  • A good technical ability
  • Maximum ball shielding ability


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