Play Outside Fullback Like A Pro
A quality Outside Fullback has to be comfortable with the ball at his feet and be able to play both ways in the modern game. You better have pace because the other teams wingers are generally the fastest players on the pitch and are coming at you at 100 mph all match long, don't get burned now!
Maicon, Danny Alves and Patrice Evra can shut down the most creative players on the pitch step for step while being as much a part of the offence as any player. The modern game asks this question of the outside fullback, do you have the right answer?
Should I Look to Go Forward or Only Stay Back?
Well the position itself calls for a player who is strong at defending 1v1 and able to fly up and down the sideline. Sure your main role is to stay home as well it but the position at the professional level asks much more than that.
Combining with your outside mid, overlaps, early crosses and strikes on goal are what outside backs playing at the highest level provides for a team on attack. Sure you’re rated in the position on how well you can defend but being part of the build up and attack is something a complete outside fullback provides.
Do Outside Backs Get to Touch the Ball Much?
Do they ever! The perception that outside backs are just for defending purposes is as big of a myth as strikers don't need to defend. If you've ever played the position I don't have to tell you how many times you receive the ball from your center back, center mid or outside mid. You are constantly keeping the rhythm of the game and are involved in much of the build up and regrouping of the teams attack and possession.
Not only that, when you consider how the modern game is played players in this position also look to go forward getting even more touches and looking to be creative in the final third as well.
You may not think that playing outside back is the most glamorous of positions but let me tell you from professional experience that outside backs are some of the most versatile, well rounded players on the pitch.
Why Are So Many Outside Mids Converted to Outside Backs?
If you take a look at some of the best teams in the world right now (Barcelona, Madrid and Tottenham to name a few) they all play with outside fullbacks that have been converted from the outside midfield position.
A coach may do this for a few reasons, either they have too many players in the outside mid position but wants you on the pitch. Or maybe they just want a player who is more composed with the ball at their feet in that position.
Many players make the jump from wing positions because of their ability to keep possession of the ball and also now that position has a player who knows how to go forward. Any good attack is a balanced and diverse one so with that in mind if you're a crafty player who can play both ways outside back may be for you, hey Marcelo and Alves do it, why can't you?
Can Left Footed Players Play on the Right Side? and Right on the Left Side?
Does the pope pray?
Absolutely. First off a professional level player should be technically sound enough to be able to hit a ball with both feet. Shoot, cross and serving a ball with both feet will open up their game to be able to cut in and shoot with their dominant foot when in the final third. An outside back that can produce at a high level with both is what it takes to play at the professional level.
Technical Attributes of A Great Outside Back:
-Ability to serve a lofted ball with both feet thirty plus yards to players feet and into space
-Technically sound footwork (collecting and distributing ball)
-Ability to clear ball with inside and laces of both feet thirty plus yards
-Technically sound heading ability both in challenges and ball clearances
Physical Attributes of A Great Outside Back:
There is no perfect cookie cutter mold for any player because there are exceptions to every rule and players that defy the odds, but with that in mind these are the attributes that top level pro's in this position all have in common:
-Quick forward/lateral and backward first explosive step (keeping up with wingers with pace)
-Strong Lower Body Strength (most 1v1 duels are done on the wing)
-Strong Upper Body Strength (challenging for balls in the air)
-High Level of Speed
-High Level of Fitness
-Fantastic isolated 1v1 defender
-Good vertical jumping ability
Essential Foundational Attributes of A Great Outside Back:
-Fantastic 1v1 Defender
-Composure on the ball
-Able to direct and lead outside midfielder on the fly
-Able to adjust to situations on the fly
-Two-way player (defend and attack)
Truly great outside backs are hard to come by. They need to be selfless, discipline and have the ability to be “on” when their outside mid may not be.
There are no two ways about it, an outside fullback who can both defend with discipline and attack with conviction makes a complete player in the position. Whether you have one or several of these qualities you need to develop a ninety-minute dynamic game to make it to the next level.
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