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Playing out of the Back

Here is a video presented by Nike Academy that presents several useful ideas for how to build play starting with your goalkeeper. It seems so conventional today in college soccer to launch the ball forward and assume your center midfielder or center forward will win the ball out of the air and retain possession for you. For me that way of playing is now a little outdated. Granted, if the opposition goes high-pressure and marks like for like as high up the field as possible on goal-kicks, then you might be in the situation to try and play a longer ball to the center forward. But more often than not this is not the case. In the video, there are a couple of references to Barcelona and they are really spot-on. Again granted, this possession style requires your team to have very strong technical players and players who can execute 1-2 touch passing.

Here are some of the main coaching tips that I pulled out from the video:

- GK place ball in middle of six yard box. Now you can play to either side.

-Center Backs 'split'. This means each of them split the penalty box and stand each side of it.

-Full Backs push-on high up the field. This creates more space for the center backs and center midfielders to operate in.

-If the opposing forwards mark the center backs tightly, then have your center defensive midfielder can 'flatten out' so that he can receive the ball at top of the box. Because the center backs are split and are staying wide and deep, there should be room for the CDM. However, if he too is mark tightly, then one of the other CM should look to find a pocket of space beyond the CDM. Because the fullbacks are marked and pushed on very high (like wingers now), there again should be a pocket of space for the CM to receive it.

-The Triangular Rotation of the full back, winger, and CM. The full back pushes on up the field and takes the wingers place. This forces the winger to come inside and operate as a central attacking midfielder. This then in turn allows the CM to drop off and receive the ball from the GK in a good amount of space that the full back has left vacant. Simple but effective rotation!


I am a youth and college soccer coach who is passionate about making coaching my career and helping assist players in their development. I am always trying to learn from the game and always willing to share with others the insights I have made from the game. If you have coaching tips or materials you would like to share, just contact me.

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