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Coaching to Improve Center Backs in Possession

I recently did an analysis piece looking at specific ways to improve center backs during the build-up. At the highest level of the game today, players and teams are challenging conventional thinking when it comes to the technical demands of defensive players. It seems that even ten years ago that center-backs were assessed by their possession percentages, whereas now it has evolved into where they can hurt opponents in more deliberate tactical situations. In the video, I take a look at two key areas that I think are critical for the position. Firstly, it's the ability of a center back to drive into space to create and take advantage of a central overload in order to progress possession. Secondly, it's the range of passing that allows center backs to have the option of 'going over' the central congested area and maybe into feet or space for a forward. Designing practices around this and working on creating these scenarios on the training pitch can prove to be very beneficial when we aim to add it to the skillset of our center backs.

Below is the analysis video. If you enjoy it, please subscribe to our YouTube page here where we share more session and tactical breakdowns.

Along with the exercises in the video, it can also be beneficial to work on these types of scenarios with your defenders individually. Below is a position-specific practice where the defender must drive through the gates initially on the dribble, before passing into one of the three gates. The coach can condition the exercise to focus more on one specific pass by calling out A, B, or C just as the center back arrives through the gates. This then challenges them to adjust their feet and work on different passing ranges and techniques.

Alternatively, if the player would like to do some work by themselves, below is an example of an individual workout, which requires two mini-goals, a rebounder, and a supply of balls. The objective here is for the center back to get comfortable receiving the ball and then transferring it into an advanced wide area. The exercise is flexible where they can move the goals to work on range of passing and practice different passing combinations before they play the 'outlet pass'. Exercises like this can create opportunities for players to increase in confidence levels and become more comfortable in taking risk in the sessions that paint these types of pictures.

This article was written by Gary Curneen. The majority of content posted by MSC is FREE for coaches to enjoy around the world, but we need your support to continue to grow. If you do enjoy it and would like to continue seeing articles, podcasts and webinars, you can support Modern Soccer Coach in three ways.

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