This week we are looking back into the archives and replaying a session from UEFA 'A' Licensed coach Gerald Boyle who did a presentation for MSC back in 2017 on 'Building Up With a Back Three'. In the videos below, Gerald takes us through the exercises and explains the objectives for each one.
Gerald begins the session with an unopposed passing practice that allows the back three to work alongside a holding midfielder to initially circulate possession, and then advance it into an advanced area. Once the ball is advanced, you can see that he now works on timing and relationships with the forward players on angles and distances of support. It can be quite challenging for a coach to add decision making to a technical passing exercise, but I think with the progressions, this exercise strikes a nice balance. He also looks to circulate the ball across the back three, which I think is an interesting part of the design. In doing this, players have a better chance of understanding that the ball does not have to go forward at every opportunity, as well as learning that patience in possession can be a crucial element of maximizing structure and shape.
You can watch the exercise and the progressions below.
The next progression is a tactical exercise. Again, what I really like about this set-up is that there is a "if" element that can drive a decision-making component and challenge the players to process information throughout the session. For example, in this exercise, if the center back follows the center forward out of the box, the pass should go into a wide area because that is where the space is created. Again, I think session design like this can help provide the players with a variety of pictures and solutions in each situation, as opposed to a pattern which does not take the dynamics of the game and the shape of the opposition into consideration.
If you would like to watch more about working with a back three, you can order a copy of the Modern Soccer Coach: Back Three Webinar here. In this webinar, we have three presenters, who each approach the back three from a different viewpoint. Each presentation is approximately 15 minutes long and we have over one hour of total content. David Seymour provides a detail study of VfL Wolfsburg and head coach Oliver Glasner's version of the back-three system. Tristan Thomas is our second contributor and covers the overlapping center-backs in a back three, using Sheffield United and Atalanta as case studies. He uses video and data to take an in-depth look at each system, how they set up against different systems and details their attacking functions and defensive transition functions. Gavin MacLeod is our final guest. He an assistant coach at Ohio State University, and shares his insight on how they trained the system throughout the week and more specifically on the defensive side of the game. Gavin details how he strikes the balance between attack and defense in session design, and highlights how they recreated specific situations that their players would experience during the games. You can access the webinar here.