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Page updated 04 August 2022

WALKING FOOTBALL COACHING


ATTACKERS


This article is all about how to be better as an attacker in Walking Football.


GENERAL REQUIREMENTS


FITNESS

Fitness is crucial in any type of football, and this includes Walking Football, as a vital part of the game is to be able to get into a position in which to influence the game on behalf of your team.

So, as a result I would suggest that in order to train for Walking Football, it is crucial that players practice walking, not only on a speed basis, but also distance and stamina.

This will be no surprise to any player who has done preseason training for the "mainstream" game, where it is crucial that players are fit in order to be involved in the game.


COMMUNICATION

It is crucial, especially attacking in Walking Football, that players are able to call for the ball and talk to teammates, to explain where the ball is going, in order that they are ready to receive it.

This may sound obvious, but many pitches and games are too quiet and calling for the ball helps your teammates and yourself!


TECHNIQUE

This is crucial, in Walking Football as well as in conventional football, as you have to know how to

- shoot

- receive a pass

- make space to receive a ball, which is a particular skill itself!

The walking football attacker has to have the conventional attributes of being able to hit the target accurately and repetitively.

But, they also have to be very much a player who can hold the ball up, bringing other players into play, changing the direction of the attack often.

The opportunity for a ‘Jamie Vardy type’ striker, who wants the ball over the top, in order to run onto, does not exist in the game of Walking Football because the ball cannot be passed over the top of a defender!

However, it is crucial that the striker has the awareness, in order to find space behind defenders, in order to get his shots in on a regular basis.

As in the conventional game, shooting is a crucial part of the game, however the key difference in Walking Football to the conventional game is the lack of a need to be a great header of the ball (for obvious reasons!).

So, specifically, what skills make a great forward?


- High rate of hitting the target!

By this, obvious though it is, I mean it is vital to hit a shot on target rather than generate pace on the ball, however to do both is the ultimate aim!

Here is a stark, but simple fact, a short on target will always have a chance of scoring but a “powerdrive” wide if the target (even by an inch) will NEVER result in a goal (unless it gets a deflection!  So, practice hitting the target and build up on your power gradually rather than try to “kick the cover off the ball”. The best natural finisher in my lifetime was Jimmy Greaves and he was known as a player who passed the ball into the goal!  So, accuracy > power, but both is ideal!


- Learn how to beat a defender!

In walking football, you are unlikely to dribble past a defender, or outsprint them (as in the mainstream game) so the way to beat a defender in front of your is the simple old fashioned 1:2 (using a wall pass!) which relies on having a teammate in support!

So, try to establish an overload wherever you can (this is where teamwork and communication come to the fore) and then simply pass the ball to the teammate and move into a position to receive the ball in a position behind the defender!

(If the defender gets “clever” and goes with you to stop you scoring, simply draw him away from the goal by moving away and leave your team mate to have the 1:1 with the keeper!)


- Keep moving but ensure your team know where you are!

It is vital that you are consistently available for a pass from a teammate but, linked to the previous section, sometimes you can be a decoy to free up room for your team mates to get at the opposition!

There is something natural about how “born forwards” seem to find themselves unmarked near the goal but I have studied this, and it’s all about movement so, if you are the striker, be prepared to make movements that draw a defender away from where you want to receive the ball.

Remember ONLY YOU know where you are going to move to and from, so you’ve always got a head start and use this couple of seconds - a defender can only REACT to your move, not predict it!

So, if your team has the ball, vacate the space where you eventually want to receive the ball, taking the defender with you then, just before you want the ball call (loudly) for it - making sure the pass is possible!

This gives you a second or two over the defender so get yourself between the defender and the place the ball will be collected (so even if they are quicker than you, they have to foul you to get to the ball!!).

If you get there slightly before them, use your technique to move the ball out of your feet and into a position to get a shot away!


- Call for the ball (you’re playing football, not Hide and Seek!!)

Too often I watch great movement by a striker but then doesn’t call for the ball, causing them, and their team, loads of frustration!

When I ask why they didn’t call for the ball the answer is ALWAYS “I didn’t want the defender to mark me” and my response is ALWAYS “fine, but how did your teammate know where you were?”

Sound familiar???

So, if you do what I’ve just pointed out in the last section, you can still receive the ball in a shooting position without the defender stopping your shot AND help your teammates.


- Make yourself “accessible”!

It’s great calling for the ball but that’s only half the battle!

If there are 40 yards and 8 players between the passer and yourself, are you really being effective (or even realistic), I have yet (in 50 years of watching football) to see a pass over 40 years, below head height and through a few defenders!

Even when receiving a five-yard pass, you sometimes have to move a little bit to receive a pass from a teammate - this is where fitness comes in (both speed walking and stamina too!) to your benefit!

My ideal striker from football history for this particular game would be Pele, although he was strong in the air, as he could play going “both ways”.

Most lively, fit, top notch players could do this role successfully though - I look at Maradona, Messi and Jimmy Greaves and they would have been brilliant at this game too!

However, in today's game I would suggest that the perfect choice would be Harry Kane.

Kane can hold a ball up, using his strength, but also shoots powerfully, early and accurately too!

The last two bits (early and accurate) being the most important “weapons in his armoury”!!


So, in summary …

As you will see there are many techniques and requirements in Walking Football, that are also needed in the “conventional game”, and although it is done at a slower pace, this often creates more difficulty for the attacking Walking Footballer.

Therefore, the need to practice technique is even more vital in Walking Football than in conventional football, as, contrary to what many people may believe, people think Walking Football is "simple", it isn’t!!

But it’s lots of fun!!


Take on all of these tips you will find that you are a better walking striker, but you will also enjoy the game far more.

- your team is more likely to succeed

- you get better enjoyment

- you feel that you are still playing the GREAT GAME OF FOOTBALL