This is my favorite soccer position because you get to see the entire field and you get to defend (it’s easier to defend than attack!). I played as a left fullback in college and I simply loved it! Even though, I also played holding midfielder and left winger, I felt very comfortable defending on the left side as a fullback. Some top natural fullbacks in soccer include Jordi Alba, Marcelo, and Philipp Lahm.
A fullback (left/right) is typically used when teams play 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 4-3-3, or other formations that the coach may find beneficial for the team. In this post, I’m going to go over: how to defend, how to communicate, movement, and passing options. Are you ready? Take mental notes and apply it on your next game. (Let me know how it went!)
You ARE a defender!
- Your main job is to defend. Keep an eye of the other team’s attackers
- Push the opponent attackers towards the sidelines, away from the goal
- Stay close to the opponent attackers, especially if they are quick
- Go hard on the first 50-50 balls. Send the message!
- Move up to leave opponents offside (communicate with your defensive line)
- Time your moves. Know when to step in front of the opponent and when to hold
- Make runs down the time. Talk to the wingers about this
- Shift to the center of the field when the ball is on the other side of the field
- If you get passed by an opponent and your centre back covers you, you MUST recover to the center and take your centre back’s position
This can be controversial because it all depends on where all the players are on the field. I’m going to give you a list of passing options but YOU MUST look around and scan the field to see what is the BEST option at that particular time. My priority list is based on my coaching style. Other coaches may have a different opinion and that is fine. Leave comments below on your views about “passing options for fullbacks”
So, this is my priority list and I honestly think that 1 and 2 can easily switch depending on the coach and the game.
- Your first option is your centre midfielder so that they can build up a play. However, scan the field first!
- Your second option is to find your winger to use the width of the field.
- Your third option is a long pass. Find your striker or left/right forwards.
- And your last option (again, depending on the game), will be your centre back
REMEMBER, always listen to your coach. These are my general recommendations but of course your coach is right there watching the actual game. The more experience you get, the better decisions you will make!
Communication is Key!
- Talk to your teammates; especially to your centre backs and wingers
- Organize your midfielders since you have a better vision
- Leadership comes from the back; be a leader!
- Use verbal or non-verbal signals to ask for the ball
- Give directions when passing the ball (“man on”, “turn”, “back to me”)
Always Learn from the Pros
As I always recommend on my posts, you need to watch soccer and observe what the left/right fullback is doing with and without the ball. They have the skills and also the knowledge that took them to where they are, learn from them! I remember that I used to watch the Brazilian national soccer team and just learn from them. There is a reason why they are considered a TOP soccer team!
Wish you the best. Make sure you keep in mind these tips and implement them during your upcoming games. Try to focus on your weaknesses and wrongs while playing as a fullback and then fix one mistake per game. For example, if you usually clear the ball to the center of the field, for ONE game, make sure “Not To The Middle” is the only thing in your mind for the entire game. Trust me, this works. You will get better little by little. Keep It Up!