A great center back soccer player is a key pillar in any successful side. To be that great it takes understanding of the position, position specific training methods and how to apply them to the pitch. All those resources can be found below, now that you have the path set out, it's on you to walk it.
The John Terry and Nemanja Vidic's of the world set a great example of what players in this position are capable of and the impact it has on the team as a whole when they dominate on the pitch. Sticking their head in tackles most wouldn't put their feet in is the selfless warrior like mentality any great back possesses.
Interesting isn’t it? Why do so many teams have center backs at all levels as their teams captain? Well there are a few reasons, they are:
-Center backs have a view of the field similar to that of a coach
-They are in a good position to communicate with the entire team at once
-They can organize effectively as they see the play as it comes
-CB's play a selfless position that goes unnoticed at times
-They are in a position of trust being the last man back
The best position to convert to another position generally is center midfielders. Why? Their position demands having an all around skill set in all aspects of the game. So a coach will usually start there, but the real answer is whichever player possesses speed, good feet, is a natural leader and takes pride in defending, you give me that and i'll give you a quality center back. So if your coach ever asks you to play a different position like center back take it as an opportunity to grow into an even better player.
Believe it or not possession stats on teams often say that center backs get the most touches of any player on the entire field! Can you believe it? But it makes sense when you start to think about it. If you look at all the teams that play a heavy possession style like Barcelona or Man City they are constantly building out of the back through the center back from goal kicks and swinging it around the back until they find a midfielder. Next time your center back friend is complaining about not touching the ball, set them straight!
1. You are a defender first - The best open field defenders should be your center backs so remember your primary job is to be a discipline stand up defender.
2. Lead - Even when your game is not on you can affect the game in other ways, be vocal, positive and lead by example with a high work rate always.
3. Go unnoticed - Do your job, get the ball off your feet, keep the shop clean and go unnoticed, you do your job and let the other players do theirs.
4. Bring the energy - Energy is infectious so no matter the situation or how you're playing bring work rate, clapping, be vocal and whatever else it takes to inject your teammates with a bit of fire.
5. Pick your spots when to join the attack - There are always small windows where you can get forward and help your team in attacking ways, pick these moments wisely and make sure someone has your back. This is your chance to make all aspiring center back soccer stars proud all over the globe!
1. Dribbling out of the back - So much to lose, so little to gain. Be safe, get the ball to your playmakers and when in doubt, ball goes out!!
2. Conservative clearances - When you have a chance to clear the ball hit it up and away with conviction not 5 yards from you to a teammate and try and keep possession, ball goes away!!
3. Trying to do other peoples job - Stick to being great at your job and trust your teammates to be great at theirs, don't go stepping on toes.
4. Being too quiet - Even when things aren't going your way you can always be vocal and help your team stay organized and motivated.
5. Yelling at other teammates - People know when they make mistakes, nothing is to be gained by pushing their heads further in the mud.
You should always be asking yourself "what do I do most of in the actual game", what types of technical things seem to come up over and over again. For center back soccer player those things are defensive clearances of all types (head, feet, knee etc). On the ball you should be working on passing and receiving square balls (think about how many times your center back partner plays you the ball along with diagonal driven passes. Keep it simple, master these two skills and you would have covered 70% of what a center back sees in a game.
Pick your spots carefully but yes! Or whatever the coach says of course. But really you should think of low risk tactically sound ways to get forward when the moment presents itself. If there is a gap to take a touch and have a shot where you know your teammate can cover you or whether its getting forward and mixing up on free or corner kick.
Think about it, who are the best headers on the team and always winning arial duels? Center backs right? So why not use that skill set for attack on corners and free kicks, get the big boys in the box and see what happens. This is an important way to stand out as a center back as well to have that little bit of magic offensively that teams are always looking for, Sergio Ramos has over 100 goals for Real Madrid, now there's a center back soccer star if I've seen one.
I’ve played with center backs that are both the “alpha male” should I say. Both want to be ball winners, wanting every ball all the time and neither of them wanting to be a bridesmaid.
From my professional playing experience I’ve found that even though from a talent perspective having two ball winners may be ideal but from a chemistry and complimenting each other stand point it’s not the perfect mix. One center back soccer player does the dirty work and the other cleans it to make it look nice and shinny.
Some may say different but the best partnerships in the back line I’ve seen are more dependent on the personalities than the talent of the players. One “alpha male” defender, ball winner and a more finesse composed player on the ball seem to have the right ingredients to make both their games excel.
Wrong! Although it may not be at the top of the list in terms of number one qualities every center defender should have. Anybody that knows a lick about soccer will tell you how much a center back handles the ball at their feet.
Getting the ball rolled out to you by the keeper, center mid wanting to reset and start again or the ball being swung around the horn in the back are just a few examples of common situations that come up several times throughout the course of a match and questions are constantly being asked of the men at the back.
-Sound heading ability (need to be confident in clearing, directing and controlling the ball with their head).
-Ability to control and distribute passes with both feet (balls come from all types of angles from center mids, outside backs and goalies to name a few so you need to be proficient with both feet).
-Ball clearing ability with inside of both feet (clearing balls with the biggest flattest surface of the foot may seem simple but is an incredibly important skill that takes years of repetition to master)
Great players in any sport come in all shapes and sizes with varying attributes but a common mold for a great center defender in the professional ranks typically have these physical attributes in common:
-Strong upper body strength (holding off attacker in the air when challenging for a ball)
-Strong lower body strength (stuck in on tackles with attacker and clearing balls out of the attacking zone)
-Agility to be able to move laterally to both sides of an attack.
-Quick Backward movements being able to stay with talented strikers with pace of the opposing side.
-Tall physical build
-Good vertical jumping ability
If you want a more in depth look at a scholarly article that speaks about the Evaluation of Movement and Physiological Demands of a Center-Back Using GPS read the article linked here.
What separates pro's from everybody else is not their touch, skill or even their athleticism but their mental approach to the game. Hours and hours are spent dedicated to develop the mental skills of the game. Whether it's affirmations, pre-performance routines, leadership or anything else the difference between making it as a pro or not can all be in your mastery of the psychology of the game.
-Leading by example
-Ability to delegate
-Willingness to take criticism from the Coach
-Strong sense of focus
Then there are other attributes that are the intangibles of soccer, sport and life that are essential (we already read that in the title duh) to your performance and long term success. Pick out the parts of your game that you are already strong at and look to add one or two of the listed attributes below to become a more complete player, person and leader of your team. Once you've mastered them see if you can rub some of that off on a teammate or two to help your team reach new heights.
- From a position standpoint they are in the in middle of the pitch and see the entire field in front of them being thrown into a leadership position on the field so to speak.
-The back line demands organization and a center back must be pulling the strings constantly meaning screaming, talking, whispering and whatever else to get his team on the same page defensively.
Lead By Example
-A great center defender is fearless and a player that lays their body out on the line time after time builds a level of respect from their teammates. Known as the “grunt work” a player who leads in the unseen statistics of a match takes a special kind of person and leader.
Finding the right center back partnership is a fragile skill. Do you put the two biggest players back there? Or maybe one big and one small quick wiry player? Or maybe the key is finding the right personalities back there. Whichever it is the back partnership is crucial for a teams defensive organization and ultimately its success.
Think you’re a center back soccer star already? Well have a look at how many characteristics you have listed above and which ones you need to add to your game.
Also have a look at your defending partner and see if you guys are the same type of player or if you both bring something fresh to the table that the other one doesn’t have. Between the two of you all the technical, physical and foundational attributes should more or less be covered, if they’re not, maybe you shouldn’t be surprised why your team’s defence has more holes then a cheese grater.
Do you have a great story or tip about this position?