Work the back four

This is a defending tactics session in which we structure the back four against opposing attacks with different formations. It is an excellent session when preparing for matchday.

Why use it

It is game realistic and enables us to prepare for the forthcoming opposition’s formation by practicing against two or three forwards, or a lone frontman.

Set up

You need balls, bibs, cones and a goal. Using half your pitch you need

How to do it

Split your players into two teams of attackers v defenders and play 6v5 in the attackers’ favour. The number of players can be altered depending on team formations, but here we work on a back four, adding in one defensive midfielder to make 5 defensive players. Serve a ball to any of the attacking players. Defenders approach and tackle, attempting to win possession. When possession is gained, either a point is won automatically, or the defender has to play the ball between two poles placed four metres apart on either side of the pitch. The ball then goes back to the coach.


Key to the tactic is the relationship of the back four, and within that, the movement and positioning of the full-backs, plus each player’s recovery position.

Work the back four

    1. The server plays to any one of the attacking team and the defenders must respond to the passing and movement of the attackers
    2. Here the defensive midfielder is bypassed leaving the defence exposed to a pass down the wing

Defending in a back four

    3. The defenders should be much tighter on the attacking players making it harder to pass like it is here
    4. The defender presses tight and forces an error that means he can take possession of the ball

Back four tactics

    5. The defenders score a point by getting the ball through the posts on the side of the pitch
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