What to Teach Soccer Fullbacks
"Rules" for Soccer Fullbacks If They Are "Defending Deep" (if your Goal is under attack)
Fullback is a position that requires patience and discipline. It is very different from attacking positions such as Forward that require creativity and skill. In Rec soccer, Fullbacks don't have to be skilled, but they must be brave and they have to stay in position and follow instructions. If you put a timid or scared player at Fullback, he or she might allow a lot of goals because opposing Forwards can basically use them as a "screen" to block your Goalie's view of the ball. A good way to teach Fullbacks is by giving them some specific rules to follow. Specific rules are good because then your Fullbacks will know what to do and what not to do. Hesitancy and uncertainty are bad for Fullbacks - clear, simple "rules" solve that problem. I used the word "rules" with my players because most kids have been taught to "follow the rules" - I told my players these were rules they must follow. Below are some of the "rules" I taught my Fullbacks when they were defending our Goal Front. These obviously don't apply if your Fullbacks are "Pushed Up". These rules are for typical Rec teams U8 and older - if you coach U4 or U6, see the section of Premium about U4 and U6. If you have great, fast, skilled FBs, then most of these rules won't apply - you can choose which ones might make sense for your team.
- The Center FB should NEVER go past the Goal Posts except in an emergency.
- The Left and Right FB's should NOT Push Up farther than the Penalty Box line (the top of the Penalty Box).
- The Center FB should NOT Push Up farther than the top of the Penalty Box Arc unless he is really fast and can recover; if he is fast, good and can recover, then you can let him push halfway to the center circle. (If your players are really fast and alert and can quickly "recover" so they don't give up breakaways, then you can allow the CFB or even all the FBs to come to the Halfway Line, and even participate in the attack).
- Clear the ball STRAIGHT AHEAD. That way your Stopper, MF's and Forwards can shift with the ball and know that it will be cleared straight ahead - they will know what to expect and can be in position to win the ball. The MFs should stay a pass away from the ball (10 to 15 of their steps) and the Fs should stay a long kick away from the ball (25 to 30 their steps). The MFs should stay a short pass apart from each other (about 10 steps) and the Forwards should stay a short pass from each other so they don't "bunch up". This will give you good spacing and field coverage of the area where the ball will be cleared - it will also give you good support to launch a fast counterattack if you win the ball, and if the ball is cleared straight ahead and you don't win it you have numbers of players in position to defend so your opponent can't easily attack your goal (i.e., you can quickly bring pressure on the ball because you have players in the area, and you will have "multiple layers of defenders" between the ball and your goal, which gives you defensive "depth" and make it difficult for your opponent to score). To teach your FBs how to clear the ball, you can play the Chips/Lofted Passes Game.
- Tell the RFB and LFB not to go past the Center of your goal except in an emergency -- show them where the Center is.