Fullback Soccer Position – 4 Great Tips!

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!

  1. Your main job is to defend. Keep an eye of the other team’s attackers
  2. Push the opponent attackers towards the sidelines, away from the goal
  3. Stay close to the opponent attackers, especially if they are quick
  4. Go hard on the first 50-50 balls. Send the message!

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Strategic Movement

  1. Move up to leave opponents offside (communicate with your defensive line)
  2. Time your moves. Know when to step in front of the opponent and when to hold
  3. Make runs down the time. Talk to the wingers about this
  4. Shift to the center of the field when the ball is on the other side of the field
  5. 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

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Passing Options

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.

  1. Your first option is your centre midfielder so that they can build up a play. However, scan the field first!
  2. Your second option is to find your winger to use the width of the field.
  3. Your third option is a long pass. Find your striker or left/right forwards.
  4. 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!

  1. Talk to your teammates; especially to your centre backs and wingers
  2. Organize your midfielders since you have a better vision
  3. Leadership comes from the back; be a leader!
  4. Use verbal or non-verbal signals to ask for the ball
  5. 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!

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24 thoughts on “Fullback Soccer Position – 4 Great Tips!

  1. As someone who has played soccer in a few countries as a fullback, this is a great breakdown of what is expected of a defender. I love how you say ‘ go hard on 50-50 balls’ as that is key. My concept is you either let the ball pass or the attacker, but never both! As you mentioned, communication is key – it leads into your other topics. Communication helps create strategic movements and passing options, as the fullback can see the whole field and lead movements in either direction. Great breakdown!

    • Either the ball or the attacker, but not both sounds like THE BEST thing a coach can tell a fullback player. My uncle, who was my first coach, used to say that to my teammates that played in that position.

      Thank you for your supportive comment my friend!

  2. Hi and thanks for the tips. I’m a big soccer fan from the U.K. and I also liked to to play as a defender. I am really impressed by your detailed content explaining the different positions to play in. As you pointed out you can learn a lot from watching how your favourite players and teams perform. My question is, how important do you think pace is in a position like fullback? Is there another position to consider if you don’t have the pace in your legs that you used too? Hope to hear your thoughts. Thanks Kenny 

    • Hi my friend. Thank you for the nice comment. Nowadays, fullbacks are expected to project down the line and move up as a winger at times. Out of all the soccer positions, I think that fullbacks require the least amount of energy as long as you hold back and don’t move up too much. However, as a defender, you want to play “1 – 2 – release” to not lose the ball in the back. That will also make you look “fit” because you are playing quick and you are not forcing a 50-50 contact. 

      Now that I’m going back to playing in tournaments, I play as a striker and just fight for the ball and lay it back to midfielders. That could be also another position to play if a player has lost his/her touch. But again, the key is “1 – 2 – release”, playing quick can always make anyone look better.

      Best of luck my friend!

  3. It is funny how defenders have no action to play with when the midfielders and strikers are playing so well that the front. I love playing defenders. The team counts on my defence when times are needed. Sometimes I can take a break when they are attacking so well all the time.

    • So true! As a coach, if my attacking players are really good and we are winning a game “relatively” easily, I change my formation to only 3 in the back to challenge my defense. I would also give all players some playing time if they usually don’t play much.

      Taking a break is always smart 🙂 Thank you for stopping by.

  4. You know, I had always wondered what position is easier in soccer: Being more of an offensive player or more on the defensive side? I really like how you break down the fullback soccer position and that it’s easier to defend. I see now how strategic movement and passing options all play an important role. I do have a friend who is a big soccer player and he could definitely benefit from this article. You said that you played left fullback in college. Did you play that position before you were in college or was it something you learned how to play over the years?

    • There is no doubt that defending is easier than attacking.

      I actually started to play in that position in college and I guess I used the skills that I learned before. As a striker, I was the first to defend but defending as a fullback is obviously different. I used to run down the line as winger and I guess that made me a decent left fullback. 

      I had the characteristics of a fullback: I was fast, aggressive to defend, good foot skills, and developed my defensive skills season after season. I loved it!!!

  5. Great post. I enjoyed learning more about the fullback position. I don’t really watch sports in general but i did play a bit of soccer at school. I was defense and I thought I was pretty okay. I think that you are spot on when you say that communication is key.

    I have noticed many people trying to do things on their own and show off and do fancy tricks, forgetting that soccer is a team sport. So while it is OK to do skills sometimes, you cant spend half an hour dribbling and showing off while everyone else want to play as well.

    Soccer is a very fun game to actually play, especially when everyone does their part and puts ego aside to work as one team, its great!

    • That is a great comment my friend!

      You are on point with the “ego” and “dribbling for the fans”. Soccer is a team sport and everyone must chip in to benefit the team. I always tell my players: ” When we look good as a team, we all look good as players”.

      Thank you for the positive feedback. Don’t forget to ready my other articles on other soccer positions.

  6. Hello,

    I just see your site which is really Cool, The layout the pics are really attractive. Then i read the article about Fullback soccer. I like to watch soccer and always wanted to play but i don’t know about the rules. After reading your article i came to now many things with great tips like the strategic movement, passing options etc.

    Thanks

    • You can always start playing with your friends just to kick a ball. Little by little you will learn more about the sport. It is also a great exercise and fun way to work out 🙂 Thanks for stopping by brother!

  7. I used to LOVE playing football both at school and down the partk after school with my friends. How I miss those days! 🙁

    In every game, I always played in defense for two reasons. Firstly, the other team always found it difficult to get past me. Secondly, I was good at booting the ball down the field lol.

    But in my opinion, I found being a defender a great position because I got a good view of where the ball and players were at which came at an advantage.

    As kids, I don’t think we ever played in any formations or had set players. Well, apart from me in defense all the while.

    But these days, I think my footballing is over due to a sprained ankle which comes and goes once in a while and also a torn knee ligament a few years ago which prevents me from playing any kind of support that can worsen the injury. So I guess it’s just swim and light weights at the gym for me.

    But with that said, I do watch some football, especially when it comes to the World Cup. 😉

  8. In my opinion never leave you goal keeper open and understanding the sliding tackle increases your chances of remaining solid as a full back. 

    If the goal keeper is open the full back should be of great speed and agility to be able to make the run to assist the keeper in any given situation.

  9. You are actually a Pro in coaching and this is a great tips and guidelines for Newbies and even Pros footballers that plays left/right fullback how to be organised and be great in their assigned task. I love football a lot and I am an Arsenal fan and i love it when my left and right fullback defenders gives no chance to it’s opponent team attackers and does zero mistakes. This is really a great post that needs to be practiced.

  10. My top 3 favorite centre backs regardless of league though are Samuel Umtiti, Diego Godin and and Raphael Varane. When they are at the back, whoever will be the attacker from the other team will have to swallow the pill.

    I hate playing at the back though, I love playing position 7

    Great facts   

  11. I think your website looks great, and will be applicable in many pockets of the world. It would be great to emphasize the importance of injury prevention, as sports are beneficial for your health with that caveat.

    I think many affiliate programs would love to be connected with you on this website, and it might be good to place links to products such as knee brace, ice packs or otc product such as Tylenol. For those who are overzealous, or do not protect their selves with proper warm up and protective gear.

    I hope my notes find you well! Great job:)

    Kind Regards,

    -Nurse Becca

    • I will definitely follow your recommendations. Even though I never had any serious injury, I used to pull my hamstring a lot, mainly because I played more than 3 days every weekend.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  12. Great post!

    I’ve always been an attacker, so tje tips you give are bad for me haha ;).

    No honestly, those tips are very good, my brother plays as a defender an he will agree with every tip you make.

    He say that positioning is key as a defender, which I totally agree with.

    You never wanted to be an attacker?

    Thanks for sharing this post with us!

    • I played in college as a holding midfielder and left back, but everywhere else, I was the left forward or striker. LOVED/LOVE to score! However, defending is much easier because you see the entire field, you see the ball the attacker; meanwhile the attacker sometimes can’t see both.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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