Soccer is a marvelous sport because there are so many different positions you can play. Whether you're stopping your opponents scoring, scoring goals, getting assist, being an enforcer, or being a passing wizard, you have to learn what your strengths are so you can pick your position accordingly.
I do think players should try to play different positions because it is good to learn different positions before you find a position to maximize your game. So your next question probably is," How do I figure out what's my best position?" Your position is not set in stone, but there are qualities necessary to excel at each position.
Below I will review every position, so you'll start recognizing what you need to do to become a great player.
Goalkeepers: Being a Goalkeeper is a very different position because you're able to use your hands to prevent the ball from going into the goal. This position doesn't get much praise and also get the blame for letting in goals. As a Goalkeeper, your mental toughness has to be top notch because your team is relying on you to make saves and play well consistently. This goes without saying, but a great goalie needs to be a great shot stopper, which requires agility and reflexes that will allow you to make saves and keep your team in the game. Positioning is vital to perform well as a goalie because it will give you the best opportunity to make saves. Goalies with excellent foot skills is a requirement for goalies today. When a keeper can play with his feet, it gives his teammates, especially defenders, an outlet during the game. A lot of times we see the goalie being the first player starting the attack. Kicking is another asset for goalies because you will be doing a lot of it because of goal kicks and players passing the ball back to you. The elite goalies can pick out there passes and give their teammates a chance on every kick of the ball. Finally, confidence has to be a priority above everything else. Confidence is what can separate the great goalies from the good ones. Confidence comes from hard work, dedication, and preparation.
Outside Backs: As an outside back, your priority is to be a good defender. Being an excellent defender means not allowing yourself to get beat one on one, blocking crosses, and winning tackles. Outside backs need to be agile because they will be dealing with shifty outside midfielders. Outside backs will touch the ball a lot because they are outlets for different positions. Passing has to be spot on as back because you need to get the ball to the players that will score the goals. Outside backs passing range needs to be great too because passing to the forwards or midfielders can be passed as far as 25 yards. The new age outside backs need to be able to attack too. Being an attacking outside back gives you another dimension to your game and gives your team another attacking option. Being an attacking outside back means you need to have technical ability. You will get the ball a lot, and if you can't pass with high efficiency, you will struggle. Crossing the ball will be a huge part of your game because the majority of crosses come from the outside and are angled. Attacking one on one will be a great skill to have as an outside back. Not many outside backs have this skill but having it can pay immensely. Exploiting the opponents defenders by attacking them can set up goal scoring opportunities for your team. Being fit will also be a necessity if you want to excel as an outside back. Outside backs get up and down the flank and have to have high fitness to do so.
Center-Backs: Being a center back requires tremendous leadership. Your guidance will require you to be vocal throughout the game. Being vocal means telling your teammates where they should be when they're out of position, and also passing when the team is doing well. Centerbacks are also the leader of the backline, which means they have to make sure the backline is cohesive. Cohesion on the backline is necessary for the team and individual success. Centerbacks need to be able to tackle because they're the last line of defense. Being good in the air is important too because teams will sometimes play directly in the air which requires robust center backs to win the ball. Being good in the air offensively is a perk too. Centerbacks that have the ability to score goals are valuable because a high percentage of goals are scored on set pieces.
Defensive Midfielder: Defensive midfielders are the anchor for the team. They dictate the speed at which the game is played at, because of the many touches. A good defensive midfielder is also a leader. Communicates a lot because he has a good view of the field. Like the center backs, they communicate and help put their teammates in the correct spots. Defensive midfielders have to be tough, willing to tackle and do the dirty work. Above everything else, defensive midfielders pride themselves on their ability to pass the soccer ball. The likes of Toni Kroos, Xabi Alonso, and Xavi are players you used emulate if you want to learn from the best. These players are comfortable on the ball and rarely lose the ball. They understand that if they lose the ball, it is a counter attack happening the other way. So continue to be comfortable with the ball at your feet, understand where people are on the field, make sure to complete your passes, and be the leader and anchor on the field.
Attacking Midfielder: Attacking midfielders have the flare. This is the player that can unlock the game with one pass. They have a playmakers mentality and are always looking for the ball. Attacking midfielders must have tremendous vision. The reason great vision is necessary is you are the one getting your striker the ball in positions to score. If you can't see the run of your striker, you are not doing your job. Good vision needs to be paired with exceptional passing. Does you no good if you can see the pass and not execute? Attacking midfielders, more than any other position, have to be a notch higher with passing. An attacking midfielder has to dictate the pace of the game because of the frequency the ball is coming in their direction. Other signs of a great attacking midfielder are movement. Movement with and without the ball is imperative for individual and team success. Attacking midfielders find little pockets to receive the ball in, and also run into the pockets and not receive the ball. Attacking midfielders have to move to make it confusing for the opponents to mark you. Attacking midfielders can't only attack, they need to defend. They need to be able to tackle and have qualities similar to other central midfielders.
Outside Midfielder - An Outside midfielder needs to be quick and agile because of the constant change of direction and speed. The outside midfielder will need to be a decent passer and a great crosser. Outside midfielders are out there because they need to give service to the strikers. This is an avenue to score goals that don't come straight down the field. Crossing requires pinpointing accuracy and timing. Being accurate enough to put the ball where your striker will be is a sign of a good outside midfielder. A lot of running in this position is key, and being honest defensively is a must too. You can't leave your defender isolated, so you have to track back. Because you have less space at times, you'll find yourself having to dribble, but dribbling with a purpose. Being able to manipulate the ball with control will prove valuable when you're on the wing.
Hold up Striker/Striker - One of the most difficult positions because of the numerical disadvantage. Strikers need to have a good touch so they can hold up the ball. Holding up the ball allows players to move up the field and join in on the attack.
Forwards have to be willing to defend, but not in the conventional way others do. Forwards need to occupy space to make it harder to break the team down. Forwards have to have great movements. Great movement allows strikers to get in right places to score goals. Shooting is how you will score goals, so being technically sound is vital. Learning to know when to curl a shot in or to put your laces through the ball are nuances that are necessary for success.
Here is a starting point for those out there who don't know what your best position is. Whatever you feel mimics your game the best, start there. Then focus on the aspects of your position that you need to improve on so you can become a better player. Once again, nothing is set in stone and positions to do change. Plenty of positions have similar skill sets so be open to a position change if it comes up. The best thing to do is to work hard and have a positive attitude.