How to Lose Your Marker

Dec 28, 2020

There are a few attributes that make a good striker, off the ball movement, shooting power, shooting technique, shooting accuracy, ability to lose your marker just to name a few. Our focus will solely be based on the ability of a striker to lose his marker, the ease and frequency of doing this is directly proportional to the number of chances that will come the striker’s way which in turn is proportional to the number of goals he gets.

All great strikers share some important attributes and few of those attributes is as important as losing your marker. From the first whistle to the last it’s always a chess game between a striker and his designated marker, usually a centre back whose sole responsibility is to stop the striker from having a clear sight of goal.

However, losing a marker is not an attribute that should be mastered by only attacking players, other team players that join the attack for set pieces should learn how to lose markers, the prime example is Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos who recently celebrated 100 goals for the Los Blancos.

Movement to Lose Your Marker

One thing is certain about losing your marker, you can’t do that by being stationary, you have to keep moving. Constant movement keeps your marker on his toes, on the contrary not moving makes his job very easy. Every player on the pitch must learn how to read a game, reading the game simply means guessing the next 2 or 3 passages of play and acting upon that before the moment occurs, catching your opponent (marker) unawares.

For a striker it means going for the run before your marker can even think about it. There are 3 potential hot spots for an incoming cross, square play or pass into the box – the near pole, the far pole and straight down the middle. Strikers with the best movements make this move or dash to the hot spots quicker than the defender can react – think of Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Pippo Inzaghi and Robert Lewandowski, Javier Chicharito, they all have one thing in common, losing their marker when it matters most.

What Are the Secrets to Losing Your Marker?

There is no particular script to losing your marker, you have to be creative even at doing this, making the runs your marker least expects at the time he least expects. First off, you must be ready for both a physical and mental battle with your marker, meaning you have to be very fit and have a durable stamina, that’s the least expected of a professional footballer anyway. Also, you must be deceptive in, that is, you show your marker you are making a particular run and at the last minute change direction and make a contrary run.

Thirdly, you must keep concentration, Ruud Van Nistelrooy regards concentration as the most important attribute a Centre Forward needs because football is for 90 minutes but goal scoring moments are just a few seconds of it and could arrive at any point in the game. How often have we seen a striker fluffed his lines by losing his concentration at the most important moment? Never ever take your eyes off the ball. Your battle with your marker is one thing, keeping your eyes on the ball is another, to score you must get both right.

Skills important for losing your marker includes your first touch and dribbling in football. The initial touch you make with the ball when receiving is crucial. It's the most glaring quality of a footballer, it’s the first thing a scout notices when scouting a player. While every footballer could show a decent touch when the pace on the ball is small and distance is close, it takes practice and hard-work for a footballer to bring a football coming at a high speed to a sudden halt. Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp and former Tottenham and Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov as the duo with the finest and silkiest first touch in the history of the league.

Many football fans think of dribbling as tricks, and that’s not entirely right. Players like Neymar and Ronaldinho could dribble with rare skills. However, every footballer should learn how to perform basic dribbles as it will help you lose your marker. The most common dribble is the shoulder feint, where you will show the opposition you are going one way and then go the other.

How Do You Keep Your Marker Guessing?

To keep your marker guessing, you need to be very creative, alert and decisive. Creativity means trying different things other than staying glued to your marker and waiting for the ball. A way to do that is pulling your marker out of position when Thierry Henry had too much attention from his marker, he drifted to the left side taking advantage of any space between the right back and the right centre back, leaving the Centre Back a decision to make, go with him or stay put.

Another top operator, Wayne Rooney lost a lot of markers by dropping into the number 10 position giving centre backs a problem of what decision to make. So to keep your marker guessing, you have to have a lot up your sleeve, sometimes you need to drop deep, sometimes drift wide, and whatever you do always leave your marker unsure what your next move will be.

How Do You Get in the Head of Your Marker?

To lose your marker, half the job is physical i.e movements while the other half is mental. No matter how focused and determined your marker is, if you are clever enough, you can always lose them. Diego Costa's style was physical and confrontational, more like a war. As a defender if you are not ready for this 'war', this confrontation, you will have no chance on the day.

For Ruud Van Nistelrooy, he'd never stop talking, mostly praises and appreciation of your performance from the very start of the game until you lose sight of him. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will talk you down and make you believe you are up against a 'God' and you have no chance of stopping him. Those are 3 world class strikers with 3 different ways to get in the head of the opposition. Some strikers feign injuries so you can have pity and go easy on them.

There are many ways to distract your marker from the job at hand and lose you at the critical moment. There are many striker tips you should learn as an upcoming striker and having the ability to lose your marker is one that would get you a lot of goals, and plenty playing time because having a striker that loses his markers for fun is a dream for any soccer coach.


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