Responsibilities of a pivot player

Pivot players are big news. Do you play with one or two? Against weaker teams one is enough but against stronger teams you’re better off with two. But how do you know at grassroots level what your team needs?

Top teams build up from deep with short passes from the centre-backs and pivots. It is the pivot’s job to create triangles and rhombuses, making it easy for the team to pass the ball around the opposition’s pressing lines and up the pitch.

It also helps create strong defences that play in formations like 4-4-2, 3-5-2 and of course the classic 4-1-4-1 creating a diamond between the centre backs, goalkeeper and the pivot. The pivot will also form a diamond with the other midfielders creating a strong formation right up the pitch.

The pivot also needs use of a wide range of attacking as well as defensive qualities.

The players should:

  • Have a good tactical sense.
  • Be good at shielding the defence.
  • Be good at tackling and intercepting.
  • Be able to drop into and hold the defensive line, possessing good defensive qualities.
  • Be able to control and direct play from a static deep position, so being a point of reference for the whole team.
  • Be able to accurately deliver long passes.

Responsibilities of the Pivot Player

  1. Protect the Centre Backs by denying through balls and blocking passing routes into attack plus cover any holes when a defender gets pulled out of position.
  2. Work hard in the middle of the pitch to win the ball and create space for attackers.
  3. Stay central disrupting and destroying plays as they come through the middle of the park.

Your Pivot Player needs…

  • Fitness – this is key to recovery from attack to defence.
  • To be good in the air to jump against attacking players.
  • Strong lower body to clear balls with both feet.
  • Quick reactions to transitions.
  • Agility to press players.
  • Good body strength for tackling and shielding the ball.

Fitness key to recovery from attack to defence – Good in the air to jump against attacking players – Strong lower body to clear balls with both feet – Quick reactions to transitions – Agility to press players – Good body strength for tackling and shielding the ball.

Try my – PIVOT DEFENCE session from  Soccer Coach Weekly below – as a formation you can play to enhance your team’s defensive setup whilst focusing on the responsibilities of the pivot.

Pivot defence

Click on the image above to zoom into the session.

  1. The ATTACKING MIDFIELDER gets support from behind and out wide – lots of passes for the attacker to run.
  2. The CENTREBACKS have an important role to play in pushing wide to give the keeper options to play out from the back and cover defensive areas across the backline.
  3. The defensive midfielder or PIVOT plays in the centre of the two diamonds, protecting the centre backs and supporting the attack right across the front three.
  4. The GOALKEEPER should be aware of Sweeper Keeper movements and covering to protect the areas directly in front of goal.
  5. The INSIDE MIDFIELDERS must drop in when defending and support the attacking midfielder proving width for the team.
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