When it comes to playing out of the back there needs to be several things to happen. Number one is the defenders have to be technical. First touch and short passing skills have to be clean and consistent. Movement off the ball from the midfield is another piece of the puzzle. If the center mids don’t know how to get open it takes away an outlet. Unity and understanding is another thing. If there’s no plan to possess the ball, it won’t happen.
Movement off the ball
Center mids (CM) need to move at the right time. Checking to the ball is what you see more than anything when playing out of the back. For this to happen the mids need to know their own defenders abilities to control the ball. If you check in too soon, the opposing team will get tight before you can receive the ball.
Center backs (Defenders) who are unpredictable with their 1st touch are hard to play with because you can’t time your movement off the ball.
Forwards (strikers) can help by checking to and then quickly away to receive a long pass. If you do this every now and then it keeps the other team guessing, allowing more space for the shorter passes.
Outside backs need to stay wide to bring the opposing team out from the middle. This gives more space for the center mids. Once the outside backs have the ball they usually have 3 options. First, pass to the CM and sometimes doing a give and go. The second option is passing backwards to the center backs or third, play a ball down the line to the outside mids or forwards.
Watch video below of Barcelona U13’s playing different teams worldwide…
Notice how this team continuously Utilizes the Wide Areas and Switches The Field.
The skill needed when playing out of the back
Short passing and first touch are by far the two most important skills needed when playing out of the back.
First touch is your freedom. Meaning it gives you more time to be able to look up and have more options to pass.
Practice on your own using two rebounders or walls set up like this. This is not easy or natural, so can be frustrating. The hard part isn’t the pass or first touch, but the steps between.
By far some of the best ways to improve!
Knowing when to take risks is key
If players are not encouraged to take risks they will play with fear and panic. This is not how futbol should be.
There needs to be some freedom…
To make the other team uncomfortable and uncertain you have to get numbers up and believe you’re going to score, not get scored on.
Communication and leadership from the coach
Players need to be taught how to move off the ball in every position.
In my playing career (youth, 4 years college and 7 years pro – experiencing 17 countries) not many of my coaches actually gave us a game plan. We would practice drills, but not really told how we were expected to play.
Depending on the players abilities is what I think determines the style of play. Also the ability to recruit. Pro coaches have thousands of choices to pick who they want. Youth coaches don’t really have that option. You get what you get sometimes.
If you have a team full of technical players, you can choose from many tactics. A team full of players who may be athletic, but lack a great first touch might need to play off the counter attack.
Either way, there needs to be a plan in place, whether it’s possession or counter attack style.
If you look far you can see short, but if you look short you can’t see far.
Vision when playing out of the back
Before receiving the ball it’s helpful to scan the field. Sounds easy right? Well, it’s one of the hardest things for players to do. It’s natural to watch the ball instead.
To become good at scanning remind yourself in practice and in games. If you don’t remind yourself, it might never happen. You have to have a purpose when training and this should be one.
When you have the ball at your feet try to look for the furthest teammate. In doing this, you’ll also see everyone between and see more players because of it.
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