A solid base to keep possession

The first rule of possession football is to play out of defence to build attacks. Your goalkeeper is vital in this process and must possess good passing and receiving techniques. The goalkeeper needs lots of options when he passes from the back.

David De Gea

David De Gea is one of the best distributors of the ball from the back

Paying out of defence enables your team to keep possession. It is the alternative to your keeper making a long kick forward for a 50/50 challenge in midfield. It takes some nerve and confidence to build from the back, especially when you first start, but it is a key part of the possession game.

Here are Premier League Academy coach Michael Beale’s five professional tips for playing out of defence successfully:

1. Wingbacks pushout

When your goalkeeper places the ball, his right and left backs push into high and wide positions to force opposing wide players backwards.

2. Centre back positions

His centre backs split to the corners of the penalty box to increase the distance between themselves and the opposing centre forward. If there are two forwards, the centre backs go to the corners of the box then slide down the side in line with the penalty spot or if necessary the six-yard box.

3. Midfielders advance

Your midfielders push high up the pitch to take opposition midfielders away and increase the space for your defenders to play out. If the opposition have two forwards, one midfielder drops deep to help the goalkeeper and central defenders play out in a 4v2 – creating a diamond shape. If the opposition has one forward, your central defenders and goalkeeper can play out in a 3v1 situation.

4. Goalkeeper movement

Your goalkeeper must be heavily involved in the process of playing out. He can do this by passing out to a defender then moving to a new angle to receive a return pass.

5. Defender distribution

Try to play forward as quickly as possible. Once your defenders are in possession, can they pass to a midfielder or forward? Can they dribble into midfield to create an overload?

In all scenarios, your goalkeeper and defenders must be positive and want to be on the ball and playing it out. If the players lose composure or become nervous, encourage them to continue playing. It’s obvious that playing this way can lead to some mistakes in training games or real matches.

However, the many positives will soon outweigh these relatively few negatives as with each session your players will become technically better and your goalkeeper will be comfortable using his feet. The sessions featured in this section will develop your teams’ ability to play out of defence in a number of scenarios.

Ben Foster

Ben Foster gives his tips on ball distribution

Ben Foster’s distibution tips

Goalkeeper with Premier League club West Brom
“Work with your team-mates on where they are going to move once you have the ball in your hands. Rush to the edge of your box as quickly as you can.
“Make sure you’ve got your head up and you’re looking around so you know what position your team-mates are in.
“Look at your options, decide which one you’re going to go for and commit to it, either with a throw or a side volley over the opposition’s centre-backs.
“Whether it’s kicking or throwing, be composed. While speed is important, you don’t want to rush it because that’s when mistakes are made.”

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