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5 Ways to Improve Your Back Four

Updated: Dec 22, 2022

This week's breakdown video features five defensive exercises, all centered around improving the back four in different aspects of the game. Although the game has progressed and evolved in a number of way over the years, the importance of a back four could arguably be greater than ever. With the ability of attacking systems at the highest level now to overload certain areas and entice defenders to jump out of position, defensive distances and relationships are constantly being tested with only seconds to adapt in a game. There is not enough time on the bench for a coach to solve every single defensive challenge, so clear defensive references and trained behaviors throughout the week are critical towards the success of a back four. This week, we also have a bonus FREE PDF of the defensive exercises to give away for coaches.

Addressed in the video breakdown is the impact of the legendary Italian coach Arrigo Sacchi and there is no doubt that his work has survived the test of time. As a young coach, I remember when I first watched a DVD of Arrigo Sacchi coaching the 4-4-2 system with the Italian national team in 1992, and I was immediately impacted by it. The detail in the work was outstanding. Even in unopposed exercises, Sacchi used reference points on the pitch and team then moved in unison and perfect synchronization. It was the first time that I had watched the collective side of defending be coached without someone yelling “get stuck in” on the sideline. It showed the importance of distances and collective understanding. You still see his ideas in pre-match warm-ups even at professional level today. Getting the movements right, players rehearsing stepping, shifting and dropping before the game kicks off. Below is an example of that video.

The five exercises that we have selected are designed to look at different stages of the game and hopefully inspire some ideas around session design and positional work. You can watch the full breakdown in the video below. If you enjoy it, please subscribe to our YouTube page so you do not miss the next one.

If you are a coach who is looking for tactical analysis software, we highly recommend KeyFrame. They are one of the most efficient, effective and affordable solutions for coaches looking to build graphics and animations alongside their analysis work and are perfect for player meetings and remote learning. You can find out more about them here.

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