As a holding midfielder, you get to recover the ball and pass it to the attackers! This is a tough position to understand because there are a lot of responsibilities and you are in the middle of the field. Which means, a lot of traffic! I played in this position at the college level and I LOVED IT!!
Some top holding midfielders include Sergio Busquets, Tony Kroos, and Casemiro. These players demonstrate game after game why we should watch and learn from them. Their skills and strategic movements should be observed carefully to improve our game performance.
The following tips on “how to play holding midfielder” are my recommendations to young players that would like more information about this interesting position. It is great to be a holding midfielder because you are in the middle of the action. However, you may be overthinking about your duties if you are perhaps not enjoying this position.
#1 Job: Defend.
Don’t really worry about attacking, your #1 job is to defend. You will most likely have at least 5 teammates in front of you ready to get the ball and attack. You must be able to move up a few times but you are mainly “holding” and recovering the ball.
- Get to the ball first!
- Know when to step up and when to hold
- Go hard (without malicious intentions!)
Cover Everyone… Yup, Everyone!
Playing in the middle of the field may be fun because the ball may always be around you, however as a center midfielder, you have to cover most of your defensive players.
- You must shift to the sides to cover your fullbacks or wingers.
- You must drop back to help the sweeper and stopper.
- You must step up when necessary to help your attacking midfielders.
Not an easy job, but definitely fun! You definitely need to be FIT for this position!
**Don’t lose the ball**
NOT YOU! As a holding midfielder, you only have the line of defense and your goalkeeper behind you, that means “half of the team” is ready to attack. You are in a part of the field where dribbling is risky and even though most professional are confident to do so, you must be very careful when trying to “dribble out of trouble”.
- Once you recover the ball, pass it! that’s the safest thing to do.
- Open up to your wingers
- Find your attacking midfielders
- Long pass to your forwards or striker
- Push up and make your fullback “run the line”
>>Save your Energy when you Can<<
Just like in any other position, you must know how to use your fuel properly. When players start playing in this position, they are tempted to run all balls and try to be everywhere. That is good but you may run out of energy and then it is not fun anymore.
- Know when to make the runs
- Scan the field and see if your team has more players defending than opponents attacking
- Organize! Communicate with teammates
- Remember your role! You are a defender. Don’t move up / attack much
- IN through your nose, OUT through your mouth.
Best Advice: Learn from the Pros
In all of my articles I always finish with the same line because I think is the BEST ADVICE I can give any young player. When watching soccer, pay attention and take mental notes on the DOs and DON’Ts of playing as a holding midfielder.
Successful soccer players use their skills and knowledge to improve their performances, why not try to implement in our game what they show us every week? I find it very helpful and I hope it also helps you guys reach your highest potential in soccer!
Share your thoughts about this crucial soccer position. Your comments are greatly appreciated!