How to Be More Aggressive in Soccer (Without Fouling)

Being assertive and aggressive in soccer isn’t just about playing hard but being proactive in your play, playing on the front foot, and not conceding an inch to your opponents.

Stepping onto the pitch with this mindset every match will let the opposition know that you mean business and that they’ll have to be at their very best to stand a chance of victory.

There’s a fine balance to strike, however, between being proactive in your play and keeping calm and in control while out on the pitch.

While Wayne Rooney, for instance, was praised for his positive and aggressive soccer play, he was also in his early days often criticised for letting his emotions boil over.

Because of this, he got needlessly cautioned or even sent off.

But there are lots of things you can do to be more aggressive in soccer while still staying in control and not losing your edge.

A lot of it boils down to your commitment to the cause, competitiveness, confidence, conditioning, and the control you have over your emotions and actions.

Let's take a look at how you can be more aggressive in soccer while staying in control!

Soccer player showing off his skills during practice

How to Be More Aggressive in Soccer (While Staying in Control)

While much of how you play is determined by the mindset in which you approach each match and training session, lots of other things can help make you more aggressive and assertive out on the pitch.

Besides the mental sides of things, you can also condition both your body and behaviour for battle through preparation and practise on the training ground.

In addition to this, learning how and when to tackle will increase your confidence as well as your sense of control over your body and emotions.

Here are some different things to work on if you want to play aggressive soccer:

Mentality and Mindset

While some players are naturally more aggressive than others, an indomitable will to win and competitiveness can be developed with time and training.

Much of this comes down to your mentality with how you approach every training session and match.

By determining beforehand that you’ll be the first to every ball and will win every challenge, you develop a positive and proactive mindset that’ll set you up for success.

This is easier said than done, however, and needs to be backed up and acted upon in each training session without fail.

Condition Your Behaviour

By playing aggressively and assertively in each practice session, you’ll ensure that your performances are equally proactive and positive when it comes to matches.

While it’s all well and good saying that you'll fight and compete for every ball, you can condition yourself to do so by simply playing hard in each training session.

Over time, this way of playing will almost become second nature which will not only help you be more aggressive but also help you retain greater control of your emotions.

For this style of play to work, you need to know how to tackle well and challenge your opponents for the ball.

Soccer player slide tackling the opponent for the ball

Learn How to Tackle

A large part of playing aggressive soccer is competing with your opponents and challenging them for the ball.

So, you need to know how to tackle and use your body without putting yourself or the opposition in harm's way.

This means that you need to spend time not only learning how to slide tackle and shoulder barge but also how to challenge for headers and use your body to win and protect the ball.

Learning how to tackle safely but aggressively is important.

Equally, knowing when to engage your opponents and when to drop off and retain your position are key.

Develop an Understanding of the Game

The more you play and practice soccer, the more you’ll develop a greater understanding of the beautiful game.

While playing aggressive soccer has many benefits, it’s just as important to know when to sit back and allow the opposition to play in front of you.

Charging recklessly forward to engage an attacker can leave you open in behind and lead you to make rash and needless challenges.

This could lead to a booking or sending off.

By understanding the game, you'll know when to be aggressive and when not to be which will help you gain confidence and control your actions and emotions.

Improve Your Conditioning

By working hard on the training ground and improving your physique and fitness, you'll not only train your body for battle but also increase your confidence.

This reinforces your mindset to know that you have it in you to go hard against anyone you face, not fear coming off second best, and not get injured.

Improving your conditioning also allows you to be more competitive as you can cover more ground and stay sharper for longer on the ball.

Both of these things help you be more assertive and aggressive in your play. 

Close-up shot of a golden shoe kicking the soccer ball

Increase Your Confidence and Control Over Your Emotions

By conditioning your behaviour to match your mindset, you’ll not only increase your aggressiveness out on the pitch but your confidence, too.

When you also strengthen your body and learn how and when to tackle hard, you have nothing to fear when playing assertively.

Because these instil greater confidence in you, they also help keep your emotions in check.

Project Positivity

In addition to training your mind and body to be more aggressive, you can also project positivity, energy, and assertiveness through your body language.

By standing tall, strong, and straight, you can radiate confidence and let the opposition know that they’re going to be in for a tough game.

This positive poise helps give you self-belief as you ready yourself for the match, safe in the knowledge that you’ve prepared well -- that you have everything you need to put in a proactive performance.

Hype Yourself Up

Before matches, many teams do a huddle where they go over the game plan and encourage one another to compete and win.

By not only motivating yourself to do well but your teammates, too, you can hype yourself up and start the game with a bang.

This also highlights everyone's commitment to one another and how they need to take responsibility for their performances and compete as best they can for the team.

While some people listen to music to get themselves in the mood, others take a quiet moment to focus on the game, think about how they're going to play, and visualise success.

A trophy on the grass of a stadium beside a soccer ball and partly covered by the flag of Russia

Visualise Success

It’s also important to visualise success to help reinforce your self-belief and confidence.

By imaging yourself winning tackles and playing well, you eradicate self-doubt and tell yourself that you’ll come out on top.

It also helps calm you and keep your emotions in check as you already have the certainty that everything’s going to turn out well.

Start Positive

You often hear coaches and players highlighting the importance of starting games hard and fast as this often sets the tone for the rest of the match.

So, it’s well worth starting on the front foot and putting pressure on the opposition from the kickoff.

By closing them down quickly and aggressively, you'll build on the mental work, conditioning, and preparation that you've put in before.


There are loads of things you can do both before and during matches to help yourself be more aggressive and assertive in your play.

Besides setting yourself up for success in terms of both your mentality and physique, it’s just as important to learn how and when to tackle, project positivity, and be confident and in control of your emotions.

By working on the above elements of your game, you can be more aggressive when out on the soccer pitch, all while staying in control and playing hard but fair.

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