Why "Push Up" Soccer Fullbacks?
Why Should Soccer Fullbacks "Defend Deep"?
Should You "Push Up" When You Attack?
Or Should You "Defend Deep", or Something In Between?
Pluses and MinusesThe following is from Premium Should You "Push Up" When You Attack? Or Should You "Defend Deep"? "Your advise about not pushing up the fullbacks worked very well. I'm convinced now that, at the recreational level, Pushing Up your defense is very overrated. We had very few goals scored against us when our fullbacks "stayed home." The idea of using Premium practice games during practice, rather than drills, also worked very well. I had a lot more fun coaching this year, and I'm sure the girls had a lot more fun playing." Coach Jack, U-10 and U-14 Girls, Nevada, USA The term "Push Up" refers to Fullbacks or Midfielders moving forward toward the Halfway Line when you attack, so they can support your attack. Defending Deep is a more conservative defense than aggressively "Pushing Up". "Defending Deep" refers to leaving your Fullbacks deep on your half of the field, usually within your "Defensive Third" and sometimes within your Penalty Box (you can give them specific boundaries to stay within, such as to not come past the top of the Penalty Box Arc unless it is to kick away a loose ball). "Defending Deep" means to only push up the Fullbacks as far as they can go and still recover - it doesn't mean you have to leave them in the Penalty Box, but that they play conservatively and don't give up goals because they can't recover in time to defend a fast counterattack. Recreational coaches often believe they must "Push Up" their Fullbacks when they attack because that is what they see Travel Teams and professional teams do; the difference is that Rec teams often have slow Fullbacks who can't run as fast as the opposing Forwards and Pushing Up slow Fullbacks can result in the opponent getting easy goals on breakaways. You can't make slow players become fast. Fullback can be a good spot for slow, brave players who Defend Deep. There are two reasons to push up your Fullbacks: one is so they are in position to "support" your attack, and the other is to create an "offside trap" that keeps the opposing Forwards away from your goal. The danger of pushing up your Fullbacks is that the opposing Forwards may be faster than your Fullbacks. If they are, your opponent may leave his Forwards near the "halfway line" (or near your Fullbacks) and have his Fullbacks or Midfielders kick "through balls" into the open space between your Fullbacks and your goal, so his fast Forwards can get "breakaways" and easy shots on your goal. The longer the field, the greater the danger, since the "halfway line" is farther from your goal. Pushing up on the attack requires either fast Fullbacks or a great "Sweeper" (a Sweeper is a fast, tough player who plays behind the Fullbacks as the last line of defense, and whose job is to back up the Fullbacks and stop breakaways by kicking the ball away from the opponents). If you have fast, tough, skillful Fullbacks, you may want to have them "Push Up" when you attack, so they can support your attack. But if the opposing Forwards are faster than your Fullbacks and if there is a risk of giving up goals on "breakaways" before your Fullbacks can "recover" to defend your goal, you will probably be better off to "Defend Deep". The longer the field, the greater the risk is that you will give up breakaways if you Push Up if your opponent has fast forwards -- it is less risky to Push Up on a short field and more risky to Push Up on a long field. It is safer to Push Up against a weak opponent than against a strong opponent who has a fast forward. Your Fullback's stamina is also a consideration -- if they are tired they will react more slowly and it is more dangerous to push them up -- even if you prefer to push them up, during a game you might want to let them Defend Deep some if they are tired. It is less risky to Push Up at young ages and against an unskilled team because young teams are less likely to get breakaways. Play the Style that allows your team to be successful and that your players are capable of playing and can have fun playing -- don't try to make them to do the impossible. An alternative to Pushing Up all your Fullbacks is to leave one behind to Defend Deep while the others Push Up, or to use a formation that includes a designated "Sweeper". How To Decide How Far To "Push Up" Your Fullbacks To Support Your Attack. Most teams "Push Up" their Fullbacks some when their attackers have the ball and are attacking on the opponent's half of the field (i.e., when the ball is far enough away from your goal that the opponents can't quickly get into scoring range). "Defending Deep" means to only push up the Fullbacks as far as they can go and still recover - it doesn't mean you have to leave them in the Penalty Box, but that they play conservatively and don't give up goals because they can't recover in time to defend a fast counterattack. Why Defend Deep? Defending Deep prevents your opponent from beating you with a fast counterattacking style of attack and forces your opponent to play a controlled-passing style of attack, and most Rec teams aren't very good at that. The question to ask is: How far can your Fullbacks safely Push Up but still recover to be in position to defend your goal if there is a fast counterattack by the opponent? This decision will be based on the speed and awareness of your Fullbacks (by awareness I mean are they paying attention so they can quickly fall back into position if the opponent launches an attack?) and how fast and skillful the opposing Forwards are. At the very least your team might Push Up to the Penalty Box line - that's a good place to start because it's clearly defined, they can see it and stop there. Even Pushing Up to the Penalty Box line or to the top of the Penalty Box Arc gives you some advantage because your Fullbacks are in position to kick away long "through balls". There is more to this Premium article, including 4 the factors to consider when deciding how far to "Push Up".