Role Description – Central Backs (5 and 6)

In our playing strategy we play with 2 central backs, the number 5 and the number 6. Our number 5 and number 6 are the back pair of our “stability box” which is in place to give discipline and organisation to our structure whilst others operate with more freedom to go forward.

To help the players in these positions, and their team-mates, understand their role we have defined it as requiring the following:

Player Challenges

Key challenges for the players in this role are:

  • to be patient when defending
  • to regain the ball using aerial power
  • to close down players quickly and stop turning if possible
  • to have a strong sense of position
  • to be aggressive in defence
  • to stop (delay) opponent in 1 v 1 situations
  • to be good at anticipating opponents movements
  • to stay upright when tackling and be prepared to compete for the ball repeatedly
  • to combine with side backs and central midfielders to keep an organised structure
  • to pass or move the ball quickly and accurately when appropriate

Out of Possession

The primary task of the 5 and 6 is to be the back part of our “stability box”.

This task is:

  • to mark the direct opponent and cover/support nearby team-mates
  • to close down an opponent with the ball with good timing and speed when appropriate
  • to prevent the opponent from turning when they receive the ball when appropriate
  • to delay the opponent from proceeding forward with the ball when appropriate
  • to restrict opportunities for an opposition player to “play in the hole”
  • to communicate clearly with team-mates when passing on or taking responsibility for opponents
  • to work with defensive unit to stay compact when appropriate (dropping off)
  • to provide cover when either or both side backs (2 and 3) have pushed on to join the attack

In Possession

When we are in possession of the ball the 5 and 6’s task is to be the deepest point for build up play whilst retaining a responsibility for giving defensive stability.

Specifically the task is:

  • to be a point of reference for the side backs (2 and 3) and the central midfielders (4 and 8)
  • when they are behind the ball they should provide a safe (blue) passing option to whoever is on the ball at all times
  • upon receiving the ball they should be looking, whenever possible, to be positive to continue or start an attacking play. This could be in a number of ways, switching play quickly, passing forward into players feet, sliding passes through gaps in the opposition midfield, or, if appropriate, driving forward with the ball.
  • to play long, accurate passes when appropriate to bypass opponents who are pressing high or to initiate a direct counter attack
  • when they are in front of the ball (the ball is probably with the goalkeeper) they should endeavour to create space with clever movement to be available to receive passes and direct the play towards the opposition goal.

Across the Corners

Physically, aerial power, strength, acceleration and deceleration (particularly over short distances) are key requirements along with the agility, balance and coordination necessary to change direction quickly, stay upright even when under physical pressure such as when challenging for the ball.

Technically it will be important to be competent at defending, heading, ball control and manipulation, receiving to play forwards (usually from goalkeeper), receiving to keep possession, regaining and securing possession, and to have an awareness of both space and the location of other players (ours and the opposition).

Psychologically the players will need to have patience, be disciplined, unselfish, determined, uncomplicated, and have high game intelligence (crucial for making good decisions). Communication skills, self-belief, confidence and leadership are vital components required by these players and they often have a strong or aggressive element to their game which is needed to win the ball when in “last man” situations.

Socially the players will probably be real leaders for their team-mates, often taking on the captaincy role, and they will need to be able to build a tight partnership with the other “stable” players (4 and 8), and will be valued by others for being reliable and trusted to do the right thing or be in the right place at all times.