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Fullbacks
Tactical and Positional analysis



    Kieran Smith
   UEFA A Licence Coach
The attacking fullback is seen by many as the most important position in the modern
game but in fact, fullbacks have been a big part of the game for quite a while now.
Everybody knows about Maicon, Dani Alves, Ashley Cole etc but if you cast your
mind back it’s tough to forget fullbacks like the Brazilian duo Cafu & Roberto Carlos,
or the French fullbacks Lillian Thuram and Lizararu who helped France to a Word
Cup in 1998; even the likes of Gary Neville and Paolo Maldini were overlapping , and
bombing up the wing in the early 1990’s

The attacking fullback is a demanding position because players have to be able to
attack and defend throughout the whole game which is not only physically but
mentally demanding. The influx of unorthodox wingers i.e left footed winger playing
on the right side and coming inside has added even more need for fullbacks to provide
width when attacking.
Attacking Qualities
Desire to get forward/attacking mindset
Attack with pace
Understand when to get forward
Always look to support teammates
Understand triggers
Quality passing at top speed
End product i.e pass, cross shot
Know when to overlap/underlap
Fast transition when ball is won
Give WIDTH
Defending Qualities
Understand their defensive priorities
Read the game well for interceptions
Recovery runs after losing the ball
Comfortable in 1v1 situations
Confident in the tackle
Fast transition when ball is lost
Physically strong
Blocking shots
Know when to tuck in
Know opponent to show inside/outside
Overlapping
In this picture Robinho is the player   The player circled is Jose Enrique
circled and he has the ball. He has     of Liverpool. His teammate has
come inside and the opposition FB       the ball and he overlaps at pace
has gone with him. As soon as the       and his team mate plays the ball
pass from the CM in the centre          into space so that without
circle was played Maicon started his    breaking stride Enrique can drill
run. Robinho plays the ball 1st time    the ball across the box.
to Kaka, who plays it into the path
of the Overlap made by Maicon
Underlapping
This underlapping run is made by Maicon   Real Madrid this time and after passing to
when at Inter. The over lap is going      the wide player Marcelo receives a pass
outside and this shows Maicon running     into his stride and he drives through the
inside the wide player he passed to to    gap into the box and into the space. This
exploit the space in the box. Once the    pass could also be made outside of the
pass through splits the defenders, can    defender into the path of Marcelo.
Maicon make the right decision?
Direct Play
In the picture below the FB is Jordi     Barca again below and this thime on the
Alba. The CM has dropped in to make      right hand side. Pedro has come inside
a back 3 & as soon as he receives the    so Alves has so much space to attack.
ball Alba sprints down the line before   The pass is played over the top for Alves
the opposition can shift over. The       to play across the box. The angle &
player circled is the LW who has         weight of the pass is crucial because if
created the space by occupying the       it’s too close to the GK the chance is
opposition RB. This pass is played       gone & also if the pass is behind Alves.
over the top into space.
Crossing
The fullback circled is Philip Lahm. He
                                              Philip Lahm on the ball again but this time
has completed the overlap and now has
                                              he can cross earlier, but what option are
to make his choice of pass. Does he drill
                                              available. A cross round the first DEF into
it across the box, chip it to the back post
                                              the “corridor of uncertainty”? Or a pass
to the free man or drive on a little
                                              into the path of the late run for the
further and cut back for a late run to the
                                              number 10 to hit first time. The CB’s with
edge of the box from a midfielder? The
                                              likely go with the CF so more space will
choice is important and the best players
                                              open up at the edge of the box.
make the best choice CONSISTENTLY
Blocks and Recovery Runs
In this situation Alves was tucked in a the   Below Lahm loses the ball & the attacker
ball was played to Ronaldo, who most          is driving into the space he has left open.
people would fancy to score from this         Lahm makes a great recovery run and
position. Alves, despite being behind         wins the ball back with the help of the CB
play, sprints back andmakes a fantastic       coming across to close the space. When
last ditch block. Timing and confidence       the CB goes over to help close the space
are crucial here because if he gets it        the CM will look to fill the hole left in
wrong it’s a penalty and a red card.          defence.
Fantastic recovery run and block
Playing out from the back
Building from the back is something I strongly believe in and I think all youth teams should
be coached to play from the back. Fullbacks can be vital to being able to build from the
back, whether the touch the ball or not, and below is a couple of examples of how you can
build from the back.
Tactical Formations Using FB’s
Top coaches are top coaches because they can see something in a game and change to
prevent it or to exploit it. I believe that all teams should be able to play more than one
formation & also be able to change formation and tactics during matches. Below are a
few examples of formations you can start with or practise to shift into should you have
strong fullbacks. The full backs are in yellow again so you can see their relevance to each
system.

           3-4-3                           3-3-1-3                           3-1-4-2
Observations From Spain
I have been living in Spain for the last few
months & I have been watching/studying as
many sessions & matches as I can.
Fullbacks have always been used in Spain and
since I’ve been here I have seen just how
important they are. The main thing I’ve seen is
the relationship between the FB’s and the
wingers, they often change positions during the
game & stay that way for 10/15 mins. When 1
overlaps they just stay in the position.

The other observation is the double overlap,
which I have seen coached in at least 3 Teams.
This is only 1 example of how they done it but
the double overlap was coached & they wanted
it to happen.
Drills to work with
     Fullbacks
Fitness Drills
I believe in being position specific when coaching players, even when it comes to fitness
work. Yes it’s easy to have them run laps or shuttles but specific drill help with seeing the
pictures in matches & trains the aspects that players need for their position. I’ve put a
couple of examples for fullbacks below.
Technical/Tactical Drills
Warm up/Technical
Warm Up        Possession Game   Diamond Passing
Passing Combinations
Tactical Drills
Thanks for reading

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Fullbacks presentation

  • 1. Fullbacks Tactical and Positional analysis Kieran Smith UEFA A Licence Coach
  • 2. The attacking fullback is seen by many as the most important position in the modern game but in fact, fullbacks have been a big part of the game for quite a while now. Everybody knows about Maicon, Dani Alves, Ashley Cole etc but if you cast your mind back it’s tough to forget fullbacks like the Brazilian duo Cafu & Roberto Carlos, or the French fullbacks Lillian Thuram and Lizararu who helped France to a Word Cup in 1998; even the likes of Gary Neville and Paolo Maldini were overlapping , and bombing up the wing in the early 1990’s The attacking fullback is a demanding position because players have to be able to attack and defend throughout the whole game which is not only physically but mentally demanding. The influx of unorthodox wingers i.e left footed winger playing on the right side and coming inside has added even more need for fullbacks to provide width when attacking.
  • 3. Attacking Qualities Desire to get forward/attacking mindset Attack with pace Understand when to get forward Always look to support teammates Understand triggers Quality passing at top speed End product i.e pass, cross shot Know when to overlap/underlap Fast transition when ball is won Give WIDTH
  • 4. Defending Qualities Understand their defensive priorities Read the game well for interceptions Recovery runs after losing the ball Comfortable in 1v1 situations Confident in the tackle Fast transition when ball is lost Physically strong Blocking shots Know when to tuck in Know opponent to show inside/outside
  • 5. Overlapping In this picture Robinho is the player The player circled is Jose Enrique circled and he has the ball. He has of Liverpool. His teammate has come inside and the opposition FB the ball and he overlaps at pace has gone with him. As soon as the and his team mate plays the ball pass from the CM in the centre into space so that without circle was played Maicon started his breaking stride Enrique can drill run. Robinho plays the ball 1st time the ball across the box. to Kaka, who plays it into the path of the Overlap made by Maicon
  • 6. Underlapping This underlapping run is made by Maicon Real Madrid this time and after passing to when at Inter. The over lap is going the wide player Marcelo receives a pass outside and this shows Maicon running into his stride and he drives through the inside the wide player he passed to to gap into the box and into the space. This exploit the space in the box. Once the pass could also be made outside of the pass through splits the defenders, can defender into the path of Marcelo. Maicon make the right decision?
  • 7. Direct Play In the picture below the FB is Jordi Barca again below and this thime on the Alba. The CM has dropped in to make right hand side. Pedro has come inside a back 3 & as soon as he receives the so Alves has so much space to attack. ball Alba sprints down the line before The pass is played over the top for Alves the opposition can shift over. The to play across the box. The angle & player circled is the LW who has weight of the pass is crucial because if created the space by occupying the it’s too close to the GK the chance is opposition RB. This pass is played gone & also if the pass is behind Alves. over the top into space.
  • 8. Crossing The fullback circled is Philip Lahm. He Philip Lahm on the ball again but this time has completed the overlap and now has he can cross earlier, but what option are to make his choice of pass. Does he drill available. A cross round the first DEF into it across the box, chip it to the back post the “corridor of uncertainty”? Or a pass to the free man or drive on a little into the path of the late run for the further and cut back for a late run to the number 10 to hit first time. The CB’s with edge of the box from a midfielder? The likely go with the CF so more space will choice is important and the best players open up at the edge of the box. make the best choice CONSISTENTLY
  • 9. Blocks and Recovery Runs In this situation Alves was tucked in a the Below Lahm loses the ball & the attacker ball was played to Ronaldo, who most is driving into the space he has left open. people would fancy to score from this Lahm makes a great recovery run and position. Alves, despite being behind wins the ball back with the help of the CB play, sprints back andmakes a fantastic coming across to close the space. When last ditch block. Timing and confidence the CB goes over to help close the space are crucial here because if he gets it the CM will look to fill the hole left in wrong it’s a penalty and a red card. defence. Fantastic recovery run and block
  • 10. Playing out from the back Building from the back is something I strongly believe in and I think all youth teams should be coached to play from the back. Fullbacks can be vital to being able to build from the back, whether the touch the ball or not, and below is a couple of examples of how you can build from the back.
  • 11. Tactical Formations Using FB’s Top coaches are top coaches because they can see something in a game and change to prevent it or to exploit it. I believe that all teams should be able to play more than one formation & also be able to change formation and tactics during matches. Below are a few examples of formations you can start with or practise to shift into should you have strong fullbacks. The full backs are in yellow again so you can see their relevance to each system. 3-4-3 3-3-1-3 3-1-4-2
  • 12. Observations From Spain I have been living in Spain for the last few months & I have been watching/studying as many sessions & matches as I can. Fullbacks have always been used in Spain and since I’ve been here I have seen just how important they are. The main thing I’ve seen is the relationship between the FB’s and the wingers, they often change positions during the game & stay that way for 10/15 mins. When 1 overlaps they just stay in the position. The other observation is the double overlap, which I have seen coached in at least 3 Teams. This is only 1 example of how they done it but the double overlap was coached & they wanted it to happen.
  • 13. Drills to work with Fullbacks
  • 14. Fitness Drills I believe in being position specific when coaching players, even when it comes to fitness work. Yes it’s easy to have them run laps or shuttles but specific drill help with seeing the pictures in matches & trains the aspects that players need for their position. I’ve put a couple of examples for fullbacks below.
  • 16. Warm up/Technical Warm Up Possession Game Diamond Passing