Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Back to the future – or how to play out from the back

dave clarkePlaying out from the back is an ideal in the world of youth soccer – but it is an achievable ideal. Like any ideal though don’t make it an absolute for your team – you MUST play out from the back is wrong, play out from the back every time you get a chance to do so is much more realistic.

I spoke to a coach this week who has been working on the tactics for his team. From goalkicks he had put his tallest player wide on the wing and the idea was the goalkeeper punted the ball towards him for him to head on towards the attackers. This was his main tactic and one which would probably bore the pants off his players.

Players need to experience for themselves the right way to play the ball out from the back. IF all the defenders are marked heavily by a team pressing high up the pitch the goalkeeper can go long into the space left by the pressing opponents… it makes more sense than trying to play it to a defender deep in their own half without an outlet.

I use this overload game to get my defenders used to running the game from the back. IT is a really good exercise that allows them to make decisions and because of the overload experience their decisions working and being successful.

How it works
In the diagram you can see the defenders have a normal set up defending a penalty area with a goalkeeper and a full-size goal. The attackers are defending two small goals – use small hockey style goals or mark out small goals with cones. You stand between the small goals to coach and encourage the players.

You want the central defenders – 4, 5 and 6 – to control the game by playing the ball across the back four to the two wing backs – 2 and 3. They can then run up to the half way line where the goal is. They can play it into the goal first time from their position at the back or run past the attackers.

What to get your players to do
Your attackers must work tirelessly, encourage them to keep running and when they have the ball to try passing or use clever skills to get into a position where they can have a shot.

You need to give your defenders the confidence to use the ball by controlling and passing it to the players on either side of them. Encourage them to control the ball with their first touch rather than a panicky pass which could put their team-mate into trouble.

You must also encourage your defenders to use both wings so they have options when they are playing matches. Encourage your two attackers to ‘load’ one side and force play down the other side.

How to advance it

  • You can add two defenders to the A and B attackers who can stand in front of the two goals to make it harder for the wing backs to put the ball in the net.
  • Or you can add another attacker so there are three and try to get them putting the ball into space behind the defenders to pass the ball through them.
  • After you’ve coached this session you can move the players around so it’s 4 v 4 with one team defending two small goals without any goalkeepers and four outfield players, while the team defending the big goal has a goalkeeper and three outfield players.
  • There are some great passing from the back moves on this compilation:


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