So you’re looking to find out how to play midfield in football however have no clue what the role entails.
Well, I have you covered here because in this guide I will take you through what you need to know in order to understand this position better.
I will go through the roles of the position as well as some tips and tricks that you can implement into your game to help you become a class midfielder.
Now I will be honest there is a lot to know, and to be straight with you its arguably the hardest position to play, at least at first.
So lets me take you through what you need to know in this ultimate guide.
Table of Contents
What Is A Midfielder?
The midfield position like the name suggests is the position in the middle of the field.
This means that while playing there you will be situated in the middle of the pitch, between the defence and the attack.
Within the midfield, there are multiple positions you can play which I will go over in a second.
For each of these positions you hold the same line on the field, but what is required from you depends on the whereabouts you play.
In total there are four notable midfield positions that you can play of which I will go over now:
A wide midfielder is someone who plays on the flanks, these positions are used in formations such as 442 and 41212. When used you will have two for each side.
The role of these midfielders is to help in both departments of attacking and defending.
When defending wide midfielders must double up against the opposing wide midfielder as well as typically the full-back of that side too.
In the other direction, a wide midfielder must also offer width to attacks.
This includes crossing the ball into the attackers and getting to the back post/edge of the box to receive crosses themselves.
From my experience, this position isn’t as physically demanded as the other two midfield positions but still requires you to put a shift in.
Being an attacking midfielder you will be the spinal point of your team’s attacks.
Playing in this position you will be staying forward mostly trying to assist goals and chip in with a few too.
You need to be a good carrier of the ball with tight dribbling skills but you also will be depended on to make that defence-splitting pass.
While each position in midfield requires you to run a lot, what I found with this position is that decision making is so important.
Whether that is making runs, passing, or choosing the right times to take on players.
A defensive midfielder is a position on the field where the main responsibility is to look after the backline.
They need to be able to break up attacks, spot danger and put pressure on players.
You will also need to be good at attacking and retrieving the ball back.
What Is The Role Of A Midfielder?
So we have spoken about each position and what you need to do, however, lets go over the roles in more detail.
1. Support Both The Attack And The Defense
Now aside from the defensive midfielders, you will likely need to be putting in a shift both for attacking and defending.
Unlike when playing as a defender or someone up front where you get time to get your breath back, you will constantly be involved in the game. Has a result you will need good stamina to keep you going.
2. Be Able To Put A Foot In
You will find some midfielders are so much at one aspect of the game, whether that be attacking or defending.
However, you need to be able to do both, as tackling and intercepting the ball is an important role of a midfielder.
After all, if the opposing team was able to go straight through the midfield, not only would there be no point in having midfielders but the defence would be tired from all the pressure.
3. Keep Hold Of The Ball
Another role I have found to be very important from experience is the ability to keep hold of the ball.
Let’s say you’re playing a team with gifted players that are very good at passing the ball around.
You will want to make sure that when you get the ball back, that you aren’t giving it straight back to them.
So to relieve the pressure on your team, you want to be able to keep hold of the ball and have a spell of possession.
It also works the same, if you are playing a team that is using defensive tactics.
You will want to work the ball to wear your opposing players by moving it fast.
This until you find gaps in their defense/midfield to create goalscoring opportunities.
4. Work Hard For The Team
If you are facing a spell where you are under pressure, it will be on you as a midfielder to get the pressure off your team by getting the ball back.
Simply put you will need to hunt down and get the ball back.
When I first started playing midfield I used to enjoy creating attacks and moving forward, however not so much the tracking back.
But make sure you get back and put in the effort to stop counter-attacks will help you win games.
Is Playing Midfielder Hard?
Over the past ten years, I have played every position on the field apart from in goal and have found some positions harder than others.
In my opinion, I would say of them all midfielder is the hardest I have played because there are so many responsibilities.
You also need to work on a number of skills in order to play it.
When you play full-back for example, which is dubbed one of the easier positions to play, you only have a handful of roles to fill.
But when your playing midfield there is a lot to learn especially if you are new to the game.
In the next section I am going to go over a few traits that make a good midfielder. If you want to play this position week in a week out, you may want to work on these areas.
What Traits Make A Good Midfielder?
Having certain traits can make you a good midfielder, the more traits you have the better you are at understanding the game and knowing when to take certain actions.
When it comes to being midfielder decision-making is important, these traits I am about to talk about reflect that.
The first trait to mention is to constantly be aware of what’s around you. You need to know where space is and who is on your tail.
With the best midfielders, they play the game like chess, as they are one step ahead of the rest. They know the right times to pass, move, apply pressure, hold on to the ball, and more.
A player to focus on here is Kevin De Bruyne, by studying his movement you will see how he is constantly looking around and monitoring what’s around him.
By the time he has the ball at his feet, he already knows where it’s going next.
2. Calmness On The Ball
One of the reasons some players opt for different positions is because they can’t handle the pressure of receiving the ball in the middle of the field.
If someone passes it to you, you can’t panic but need to think quickly to make sure you don’t lose the football.
You need to be calm and be comfortable receiving the ball knowing that players will close you down straightaway.
Now if you don’t think you can handle this, there are a few tips you can use to help you which I will talk about later on.
3. Accurate Passer
Midfielders and Center back almost always have the most touches of a ball in a game.
So if you are unable to pick a pass, you will likely be giving away possession to the other team more than you would like.
To be an accurate passer you need a combination of composure and technique.
Composure is all about making a good pass to a teammate while being pressured, while the technique is about executing a pass correctly.
4. Good Engine
On average players run over 10.8 km a game, this is the average for a football player but for a midfielder, you can be running as much as 15k, which is a noticeable increase.
This is down to the fact, that not only are midfielders moving all over the field but they tend to play the full 90 minutes.
For the full game, you need to be able to make short darting runs, trackback, communicate, run end to end all of which require a lot of stamina.
So having a great level of fitness, is essential to playing this position well.
5. Be Able To Control The Tiempo
The final trait to talk about that makes midfielders good is their ability to slow down and fasten the tempo depending on how the game is going.
During the game there will be times where the tempo is slow, the midfielders will orchestrate this in order to calm down a game.
This is normally done in situations like:
- When your team is winning and you need to tighten up. When a game is fast and open, it makes it easier for the team chasing a result to get the ball back and create multiple attacks.
- If a game is far too open, then a midfielder may take it upon themselves to calm down the game.
There will also be times where you need to recognize when to quicken up plays.
To play faster tempo passes need to be made quicker and move forward instead of backward.
This is normally in times when a goal is needed or if time is running out to get a result from the game.
Examples Of Midfielders
In this section, I want to highlight a few midfielders who are at the top of their game in their areas.
When learning to play a new position it’s always recommended to learn from the very best.
Below I am going to talk about the qualities of world-class players along with a few clips with them.
1. Def Mid: N’Golo Kante (Defensive Positioning, Engine and Tackling)
If you’re looking to play a defensive midfield position there is no player I recommend watching more than N’Golo Kante.
A player who was found in the second division of French football is now one of the most valuable players in the world.
This is for a number of reasons, but to name a few you have:
- Engine – He covers so much ground in every game he plays
- Positional Awareness – Chooses the right times to close down opposing players
In fact, in the year where he won the title with Leicester City, he recorded a league-high of 174 interceptions which shows you how well he can judge plays.
Here is a little clip that explains how Kante plays:
2. Wide Mid: Eden Hazard (Acceleration, Dribbling)
While he has had a recent few years plagued by injuries Eden Hazard has proved to be one of the best wide midfielders in the world.
Being predominantly an LW/LM he has shown on many occasions the class he has on the ball.
His ability to move fast with the ball but also keep it close to him is something to behold. He is able to drop a shoulder and explode into space.
Now what makes him special is his unpredictability, which is why you will hear a lot of defenders who have played against him say he is one of the toughest players they’ve faced.
Here is a clip of one his goals that will be up there as one of the best to be scored in the premier league:
3 . Att Mid (False 9): David Silva
David Silva is a player who dominates assists charts because of his talent to pick out his strikers with killer through balls.
His lower centre of gravity similar to Hazard helps him move around the pitch effortlessly.
He makes everything look easy and his footballing ability is sublime.
An attacking footballer I have always admired and if you are looking to play attacking midfield, then there are a few things you can take away from this game.
Before we move on here is a short video that showcases 10 of the best assists he made over his time with Manchester City.
Keep an eye out for assist number 5, this one left me speechless!
Tips For Beginners Playing Midfield
Playing midfield as I said earlier isn’t easy.
However, it’s a position that if you put time into learning it you can make your position.
I started my career playing centre back, however, after 2 years I moved my way into the midfield position where I play the majority of games nowadays.
Here are a few tips I can give to you:
1. Take Your Time To Get Used To The Position
First things first take your time when adjusting, when starting a new position you likely won’t get everything straight away.
So the best approach is to not put too much pressure on yourself and gradually pick up what you need to play it.
You can speak to your coach to get some guidance plus you can talk to other players who play midfield to get some advice too.
2. Play Smart
Now even if you have the engine of someone like Kante you still don’t want to be running around like a headless chicken as you will be done within 20 minutes.
Nor do you want to be forcing passes throughout games either, as you will just turn over the ball time after time.
So my advice is to play smart.
Make runs when you and your coach suggest you to, this will help you last the full 90.
When deciding pass options look at who is in a good position to receive a pass and not lose it straight away. But also don’t dally on the ball too long, as you risk being dispossessed.
Working On Your Midfield Game
This final section sees us look at a few things you can do to help you get into this position. These are things you can do when you are not on the pitch.
1. Improve Your Stamina
While playing a midfielder will require to make plenty of passes and make the right runs.
If you have low stamina you may not even make it to half-time.
This is why I recommend if you don’t have great stamina to work on it by going hitting the treadmill or going out running.
Some people will suggest going on long runs, however, I don’t think that will help you as such with football.
In football, it’s all about short darting runs. For instance, lets say you are in the final third and the opposition retrieve the ball and do a counter attack on you.
You will be required to get back quickly and only after you have got into position can you get your rest.
So to work on this you need to replicate a game scenario and practice this.
I recommend finding a hill or a path with an upline and practice doing short bursts.
Start at the top of the hill, and run 25 meters before stopping and walking 25 meters. Repeat this multiple times.
2. Practice Becoming An Accurate Passer
Something I kick myself now is not working on my passing sooner.
When I was younger my dad always told me to practice passing on both feet by kicking a ball against a wall.
But because I found it quite boring I never stuck at it.
If I had I would probably be as good on my right as on my left.
So my advice is to start practising passing as soon as possible. This will help you become:
- More accurate
- Better on your week foot
- Improve your technique
Now if you have some funds spare, you might want to invest in a football rebounder. As it’s a piece of equipment, you can take it anywhere and practice with it.
3. Watch Plenty Of Football On TV
Another solid way to become familiar with midfield is to tune in to some football matches.
Now why I recommend watching football is because you will be able to watch and monitor professional players’ games.
You will be able to understand the role they play more, the different styles of play, and be able to take aspects of their game that you can implement into yours.
Football is quite accessible nowadays and to get access to top games, you only need to spend a few pounds a month.
For instance, to watch top La Liga games you can spend £6.99 a month and get all the games with Premier Sports (not an ad).
With the emergence of streaming, you can also watch football on Amazon Prime.
A cheap subscription, premier league games each season and other benefits there isn’t much not to like about what there doing.
4. Pick Up PES Or Fifa?
When you play a computer game for hours on end you become a better player at that game, very simple.
What I have found though is when you play sports games in particular not only do you become good at it, but you learn more about the sport.
For instance, if we take Fifa which is a very popular game played by millions, you get to use tactics that teams would in real life.
Nowadays these games are very close to the actual game, so if you prefer to play instead of watching then this is something I recommend.
There you have it that is my ultimate guide on how to play midfield in football.
I do hope it helped you out and if there are any questions on playing midfielder that you would like to ask me don’t hesitate to ask me by dropping them below 🙂