Ein Flügelspieler mit Fussball, im blauen Trikot, im Zweikampf mit einem Verteidiger

Becoming a better winger – 1v1, speed and finishing

The requirements for the winger position have changed enormously in the last few decades. In the past, the wing player's tasks when in possession of the ball were reduced almost exclusively to dribbling along the line and playing crosses. In modern football, however, it takes more than speed and precise crosses to be one of the best wingers.

An outstanding winger or winger not only acts as an assist provider, but also as a goalscorer - be it through an inside strike from the half-space or by converting a cross at the back post.

In addition, the solution options for 1 against 1 have also expanded. While previously only the breakthrough towards the baseline was sought, today the targeted dribbling inwards for a follow-up action in the half field is also sought. But binding opponents with dribbling on the wing has also become more important. Wingers who are strong at dribbling draw 2-3 opponents to themselves through tight and tricky ball control, thereby creating space for their teammates.

With this blog post we would like to support you in becoming a more complete and better winger. You will learn how to...

  • ...offer yourself skillfully on the piano and run free
  • ...have a solution ready for every 1 against 1 on the outside lane.
  • ...you'll be extremely dangerous as a winger.

This individual training for wingers will support you on the pitch:

Offer and run free as a winger

In order for you as a winger to be able to bring your varied dribbling or precise finishing into play, you first have to win the ball yourself or receive it from a teammate. Basically, there is more space on the outside lanes, as in modern football the focus when playing against the ball is very much on securing the middle of the field. You can use this space on the wings excellently for dribbling to overcome opponents.

You have the best conditions for dribbling out your opponent if you can act openly to the direction of play and have already been able to pick up the pace. On the other hand, if you stand with your back to the direction of play and your opponent is directly behind you, you have worse conditions for winning a 1-on-1. Your goal as a winger must be to offer yourself skillfully in order to be able to turn up and, ideally, gain some distance from your opponent.

Running Feints – Going & Coming

Running feints can be very useful to you. You trick me into thinking I'm running into the depths with just a few steps or a lunge. Your opponent will usually move backwards to secure the space behind him. Shortly before the pass, you change your direction explosively and move diagonally backwards and outwards. The defender needs some reaction time to react to your running feint. As a result, you have moved a few meters away from your opponent and can take the ball forward with the first contact.

Running feints – coming & going

Every now and then you also have to deal with opponents who are particularly close to you. If you come towards your teammate - even if you do so after a running feint - it will be much more difficult to turn up because the defender is close behind you.

You can also make good use of the defender's tight coverage. Instead of pretending to run deeper, use a few steps or a lunge to indicate a movement towards your teammate with the ball. If the defender follows you at a short distance, you start with an explosive dash into the depths shortly before the pass. Your opponent will need too long to react to the running feint and you can very well be used at the back of the opposing defender.

For your running feints to be effective, you need to be able to make explosive, steep changes of direction. These 3 exercises will help you:

The open position

Due to the focus on the middle of the field in modern defense, as a winger you often don't have an opponent directly on you if you use the width of the field. On the contrary, you often have more than enough time for your first contact, especially after the game has been postponed.

Nevertheless, you shouldn't waste any unnecessary time processing the ball, as you can use it very well to pick up speed. Consequently, you should not stand with your back to the opponent's goal, as turning towards the direction of play is an unnecessary step.

If you are a little distance from your opponent - even if it is only 3-4 meters - you offer yourself in an open position. This means you don't waste any time processing the ball, but can take the ball directly in the direction of play.

The open position has another positive effect. It helps you keep a better eye on the depth. So you don't have to turn it up and "scan" the space in front of you, but you can directly carry out a follow-up action, such as a pass or a dribble.

The 1 against 1 on the wing

Once you have put yourself in a favorable starting position by offering yourself in an open position or using a running feint, nothing stands in the way of an offensive 1-on-1 on the wing.

To win 1 on 1, you take the ball diagonally forward and inwards, directly towards your opponent, with the first contact. Dribbling along the line is much easier for the defender to defend because you are limited by the touchline and the defender can push past you more easily. On the other hand, if you dribble diagonally at your opponent, he will be forced to move backwards, as the defender also has to secure the dribbling path into the center.

While your opponent is dribbling, observe the rest of the game. If an opposing six from the center is already on the way to double you, prefer the breakthrough towards the baseline. However, if there is some space in the center and the defender has not adequately secured the dribbling path into the middle of the field, you can pass inside.

Regardless of which side you want to go past the defender, these tricks will help you win the 1 on 1:

Finishing the goal as a winger

As was mentioned at the beginning, the winger is no longer just a provider of goals. As a modern winger, you can interpret the role in such a way that you are regularly included in the top scorer list. Above all, a precise finish and a clever approach to crosses will help you.

Lead-in behavior on edges

If you play on the right wing and the majority of attacks come down your left side, you don't have to be frustrated at all - especially if the winger on the opposite side regularly overcomes his opponents and delivers crosses.

Run into the penalty area with every cross from the other side. You will be very difficult to defend because your opponent always has to keep an eye on the ball. This helps you escape from the back of your opponent when a cross comes from the other side. If you keep looking for the path to the second post, one of these crosses will land directly at your feet or as a second ball. In this case, you only have to push the ball over the line from a few meters.

Finishes from the half space

Be it after a 1-on-1 win in which you went past the opponent inside, or after receiving a pass into an intersection - as a winger, you primarily come to the goal in the half-spaces or from a tighter angle.

The shot with the inside instep is particularly suitable for this. If you play the ball precisely into the far corner, the opponent's goal has almost no chance. If the shot path into the far corner is blocked, you can surprise the goalkeeper with a full-court kick into the short corner or spin around the opponent. To do this, you hit the ball as far out as possible so that the ball “curves” around the opponent.

However, if the angle becomes too acute, it becomes more difficult to overcome the goalkeeper with the inside instep. However, if the final distance is very short, a powerful full-range shot under the crossbar can be helpful. Due to the short reaction time and the enormous power of the shot, the goalkeeper will no longer be able to bring his hands up in time.

You can learn how to finish precisely from the half spaces here:


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About the author:

Luis Österlein (Twitter: LOsterlein ) is a game analyst for the U23 team at FC Bayern Munich and a freelance author. In close collaboration with 360Football, he writes specific blog posts that support players in their football development.

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