3 Ways to Become a Better Winger
There are few positions more universally loved than wingers. These wide attackers are usually associated with pace, skill, and flair, making them a joy to watch. It’s therefore no surprise that many children grow up idolising wingers.
Here are three broad tips to help improve aspiring young wingers.
1. Lose Your Marker
As a winger, you’re likely to be marked (often tightly) by an attentive full-back. In order to perform your role, you’ll need to lose your marker, at least for a brief moment.
There are many different ways you can lose your marker as a winger.
Here are a few examples:
Perhaps the most obvious example, pace is one of the main weapons wingers use to get away from their marker. The majority of wingers are fast and that can be a huge advantage when running down the flanks.
Not to be confused with pace, acceleration is slightly different. You don’t need to be electric over 100m to be an effective winger. The ability to rapidly transition from stationary or walking pace to a sprint can be enough to shake off a marker.
Being quick isn’t the only tool in a winger’s arsenal. Dribbling past opponents is another effective way to create space. Agile wingers can cause larger, more immobile defenders lots of trouble.
Not all wingers have flashy skills, but those that do can pose defenders many issues. It’s incredibly difficult to stop a winger with the ability to pull off something unexpected like Neymar or Alan Saint-Maximin.
Probably the most overlooked quality on this list. Smart positioning can make all the difference and give you a headstart when coming up against a marker.
2. Improve Your Crossing
Although there are many different roles for wide attackers, the winger is still an effective role. Traditionally, the job of a winger is to get down their flank and provide a cross into the box for a striker to attack.
Crosses can be grouped into three main categories:
- Floated cross
The key part of a floated cross is that it is in the air. These types of crosses don’t always have a lot of pace on the ball but can still be dangerous if they are accurate and attacked by a strong header.
- Whipped cross
Like floated crosses, whipped crosses are also off the ground but the height can vary considerably. These do not have to be attacked with a header and are drilled in hard so that a small touch or deflection can be enough to beat the keeper.
- Low cross
As the name suggests, these crosses are along the ground and closely resemble a standard pass. The less power you put on a low cross, the more accurate you’ll have to be to pick out your intended target.
To add further variation, there are several different times you can cross the ball. Deciding when to put in a cross can be just as important as the type of cross:
- Cross early
Crossing early has the advantage of catching the defensive team unprepared. Additionally, your marker may not have had enough time to close you down giving you space for the cross. However, your teammates may not also not have enough time to anticipate an early ball.
- Create an opening, then cross
Holding off a little longer will give your marker time to close you down but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you can beat them with pace, agility, or skill, you’ll be left with the freedom to pick out a teammate in the middle.
- Get to the byline
If you wait longer still, it’s likely that the defensive team are now all back and organised. This can be tricky to break down, but getting the ball to the byline and picking a teammate arriving into the box can be very difficult to defend.
- Don’t cross at all
Just because you’re a winger doesn’t mean you need to cross at every given opportunity. Lay the ball off to a teammate in space or charge into the box yourself if the opportunity presents itself.
3. Track Back and Drop Deep
Being an effective winger isn’t all about flashy skills and great crosses. Wingers will most likely have defensive duties so it’s important to track back as quickly as you get forward.
Not only is getting back helpful from a defensive point of view, but it can help launch attacks. Wingers can drop deep to collect the ball and run at defenders as well as looking to make runs in behind.
Looking for overlapping runs and adding variety to your game will make you a far more dangerous winger. Using space smartly and making the correct decisions is something which you will develop with match exposure.
The Bottom Line
Working on some of the tips above will help you become a better winger with plenty of practise. There’s no better place in London to improve your skills as a winger and learn football the Brazilian way, than at Samba Soccer Schools. For more information, click here.
FAQs About Wingers
Are all wingers the same?
Absolutely not. Wingers have a reputation for being past and tricky but they come in all shapes and sizes with varying skillsets.
How to improve crossing and passing in footballl?
For more information on how to improve your passing, read here.
How do you stop a winger in football?
If you’re a defender looking to stop a winger, this article offers great tips on how to tackle effectively.