A great center back 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.
Why Are Lots of Teams Captains Center Backs?
Interesting isn’t it? Why do so many teams have center backs at all levels as their captains? Well there are a few reasons, they are:
- 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 wirey 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 it’s success.
How Important Is It?
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 well stand point it’s not the perfect mix.
Some may say different but the best partnerships in the back line I’ve seen are more dependent on the personalities then 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.
I’m a Center Back I Don’t Need to be Good with My Feet Right?
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.
Technical Attributes of A Great Center Defender:
-Sound heading ability (clearance header, flick on and directional heading) -Ability to control and distribute passes with both feet -Ball clearing ability with inside of both feet
Physical Attributes of A Great Center Defender:
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
Essential Foundational Attributes of A Great Center Defender:
Attributes not necessarily associated with technical or physical ability, more character traits than anything else.
-Ball winner, Ball winner, BALL WINNER
-A leader and general in the back.
-Reliable and consistent performer
-A player opposing players fear to go up against on the ground and in the air
-Composed on the ball along the back line
Think you’re a great central back? 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 defense has more holes then a cheese grater.
Do you have a great story or tip about this position?