How to Play Winger in Soccer: The Skills Needed to Succeed

Playing in the position of a winger in soccer is exciting. I’ve played as a winger many times and understand what it takes. Today I want to share with you the basics of what is required to succeed in this position.

To play as a winger in soccer, you need to:

  1. Maintain your position on the side of the field
  2. Focus on supporting the attack
  3. Pass the ball accurately
  4. Work hard for your team
  5. Create space in front of the goal
  6. Beat the player in front of you
  7. Support the defense 

When it comes to playing as a winger, these are the seven key areas to focus on. Each of these areas is important so let’s look at each one individually.

how to play winger in soccer

1. Maintain Your Position on the Side of the Field

A winger is typically positioned on the right or left side of the soccer field.

In my guide to the role and position of a winger in soccer, I explain the reason why in more detail, but essentially a winger’s role is to provide goal-scoring opportunities for the forwards by crossing or passing the ball from the side of the soccer field.

To play effectively as a winger in soccer, you need to avoid being drawn into the center of the field and fulfill your role as a wide player on the team.

Staying out wide makes you a valuable asset for the team and will help you excel at many of the other aspects of a wingers game that we’re about to look at next.

Position of wingers on a soccer field
Position of wingers on a soccer field

2. Focus On Supporting the Attack

The role of the winger is crucial to a team’s offense. A lone, isolated forward isn’t going to be able to score any goals, so they rely on the wingers to provide opportunities for them to use the ball.

When it comes to playing as a winger, your attack responsibility is one of the most important things to focus on. You need to be looking to get in behind the defense and create chances for your team.

Every time your team has possession of the ball, look at it as a chance to attack the opposition’s goal.

You want to be able to move the ball up the field by dribbling with it or making a forward pass to one of your forward players.

The winger should also be a threat to score whenever they have the ball.

Although scoring goals isn’t the primary responsibility of a winger, the coach will expect them to contribute to the team’s goals over the course of the soccer season.

Soccer winger running with ball at their feet
Soccer winger running with ball at their feet

3. Pass the Ball Accurately

To play as a winger, players must have good crossing ability and be able to pass the ball accurately.

If you’re accurate with your passes, then the players around you will have more time on the ball to create chances and use the ball effectively themselves.

Finding a teammate in space or with an inch-perfect through-ball is not only satisfying but will give your team more opportunities at goal.

To do this effectively means you need to be aware of where everyone on the field is so that you can play the ball to them quickly.

Always keep scanning the field when you don’t have the ball. Then you will be ready to move the ball forward without delay.

Look for opportunities to cross the ball in from the wing as well. Then whenever the forwards on your team raise their hand to signal they want the ball, you’ll be ready to deliver.

4. Work Hard for Your Team

Working hard for your team is an often underrated aspect of playing as a winger. But a winger needs to work hard if they are going to succeed in the role.

As a winger, you will spend a lot of time running up and down the field offensively and defensively, so it is imperative that you have great physical condition and stamina.

If you want to give your fitness a boost, I recommend checking out my 30-Day Soccer Fitness Guide.

Knowing how to improve your fitness can be a challenge, but this guide follows the same fitness drills that pro soccer players use in a daily step-by-step format to make it easy for you to take your game to the next level.

Check it out here, or click the button below.

When playing winger, one must have a high work rate.

If you work hard for your team, you’ll quickly see the benefits for yourself and the team.

5. Create Space and Provide Width

Another aspect of playing as a winger in soccer is to create space in the middle of the field by stretching the defense.

By playing beside the field’s touchlines, the winger provides width for their own team while simultaneously drawing out the opposition defenders from the center of the field.

Creating width is crucial as it gives your teammates more options of where to pass the ball. It also gives you more space to run into or pass when you have the ball at your feet.

Keeping the ball and defensive players out wide means there is more room for the forwards to operate within the opposition’s penalty box. This is why forwards love playing alongside a great winger.

To play effectively as a winger, you should master this aspect of the role.

6. Beat the Player in Front of You

One of the most exciting aspects of playing as a winger is the opportunity, and expectation, to beat the player in front of you.

Watching a winger in full flight running at defenders and dribbling past them with a trick or a skill is a delight to witness.

Soccer player dribbling with the ball
Soccer player dribbling with the ball

When you play as a winger, you have the opportunity to take on this role.

A winger must be quick and possess excellent ball control, and it’s important for a winger to keep the defenders on their toes by being agile and speedy.

A winger must have the ability to beat the defender one-on-one and get behind the lines as often as they can. Then, once they have run behind the defenders, they can attempt to make a good cross into the forwards.

A good winger must be able to dribble well if they want to get past the defense. 

They should also be able to perform tricks and close control to aid them in doing this. Check out my list of the top 10 tricks and skills to beat the defender in front of you.

The winger must be able to beat their marker and get free down the edge of the field.

7. Support the Defense When Called Upon

Another important role for a winger is to support the fullback behind them.

If you’re playing as a winger, you need to be thinking about your defensive duties as soon as the opposition has the ball.

This includes:

  • Making sure that your team has enough defenders behind you,
  • Checking where your fullback is,
  • Tracking back with the opposition winger on your side of the field,
  • and filling any gaps in the defense.

When playing winger, it is important to be aware of the space behind you and the position of the defenders.

This basic knowledge of space will help you defend your goal and minimize any kind of trouble for your team.

To perform your defensive duties well, It’s important to know where the opposite team’s players are at any time.

Playing as a winger is a challenging position, as it tests a player’s physical and mental strength. In addition, wingers have a lot of defensive duties in modern soccer, and it is up to the ‘winger’ to effectively combine them with their attacking role.

But if you can combine all these aspects, you will succeed at playing as a winger and be a valuable asset to your team.

For more tips, check out another of my recent articles:

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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