No player has been in better form this season than Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy. The striker has scored 24 goals in the Barclay’s Premier League this season, including his run of 11 straight games with a goal. It’s a huge credit to Vardy’s mentality and technique. If you need any proof of the latter, just watch the worldie he scored against Liverpool earlier this season.
There’s much more to being a striker than shooting. Vardy is a complete striker, who is not only capable of scoring amazing goals, but also very aware of his space on the pitch, and how it impacts his ability to strike for goal. Let’s examine some of Vardy’s techniques, and run through some tips on how to replicate some of his magic.
One thing you’ll notice immediately when watching Vardy play is his positioning. Leicester’s goal is to attack with pace, and it’s usually Vardy who will make an incisive run between defenders to try and get in behind. This is a staple of Vardy’s play.
As soon as Christian Fuchs drives up the pitch, Vardy is positioning himself to score. Fuchs could play the ball to Riyad Mahrez in the middle, where he has space, but Vardy has occupied the space between the two center backs. He makes a driving run, and he expects his teammates to deliver a ball that he can smash into the net. (You can even see him pointing to the spot he wants to ball.) The same thing occurs here:
Mahrez spots the run of Vardy in between the two Chelsea center backs and delivers a perfect ball to Vardy, who one times it into the back of the net.
Take a critical look at the runs you make, and analyze the moments that happen after. Use the runs you make into space to set yourself up for a strike at goal. Work to execute a game plan to exploit the space behind defenders.
Use Your Eyes Before Your Feet
At its most basic level, we call this composure – and it is critical for every striker. It’s sounds so easy, but you have to use your eyes to spot where you can beat the keeper, and Vardy is a master. Watch this goal against Arsenal. You’ll see Vardy look up to see where Petr Cech is.
He uses his eyes before his feet to pick out a spot at the far post to aim at - where he knows he can beat Cech. A lot of strikers rush to take a shot without looking up to see where the keeper is positioned.
Examine your own video. Is your head down while running towards the goal? Practice dribbling with the ball out in front of you, this will allow you to keep your head up so you can easily spot the keeper before setting up your shot and striking.
Let the Ball Work for You
Everyone wants to dribble, but you typically don’t need any more than a few simple touches to set yourself up for a goal. For a player like Vardy, he lets the ball do a lot of the work for him.
Vardy doesn’t even take a touch, he simply directs the ball towards the goal and allows the pace of the ball to move it past the keeper.
To replicate on the practice field, have a teammate cross the ball into the area for you. Take the ball straight out of the air and direct it towards goal. Use both your feet and your head to try and score. Start with an empty goal to build some confidence, and later add a keeper into the mix. Try getting the ball past him for an added challenge.
Play as a Unit
Let’s look at an example where Vardy uses the ball, and his teammates, to set himself up for a goal.
He played the initial pass to Leonardo Ulloa in space and immediately bolted down the line. In typical Vardy fashion, he exploits the space behind the defense to receive the return pass. Ulloa knows the run is coming and plays a simple ball through. One simple touch inside the defender has Vardy set up to smash it into the bottom corner.
Examine your video and find places you can distribute the ball. Pass-and-move at its most basic level can put you in position for an easy finish. Vardy often uses his positioning prowess to pass and move, giving himself time and space to pick out a spot to shoot.
Vardy has developed into one of the Premier League’s most lethal strikers by combining these techniques with his raw ability and work rate. Use these tips alongside your own game video to continue developing your game. Whether your strengths are pace or power, combine it with hard analysis to become a complete a striker like Jamie Vardy.