Not every soccer team in the world uses a formation where the wingback position is necessary. Nonetheless, those that do may do so with devastating effects to the opposing team using such talents as Brazil’s Roberto Carlos.
The wingbacks can romp up and down the field, from defense, to midfield, right up to the rival’s goal.
A term hardly used in soccer nowadays, the wingback is a combination of a fullback and a winger and plays one yard away from the line of scrimmage and right outside the tight end. The wingback plays the role of a defender but with attacking duties.
Mostly found in a 3-5-2 formation, this is a physically demanding position that requires pace and concentration. These skills ensure that the wingback has a good positional sense and can make quick, snap decisions on when to attack and when to draw back.
The wingback’s main role is to be a wide outlet for the rest of his team, especially in a game formation that does not include wingers. It is one of the most versatile positions and as per the coach, a wingback can block, receive and/or run reverses.
As stated above, the wingback is a versatile player that can play the role of a running back, tight end, full back or a wide receiver.
The wingback position is seen as a modern take on the fullback where it is primarily a defensive position but can still mark opposition wingers when needed to.
This player occupies the outer areas of the field and requires the following skills to ensure his team gains against their opponents:
This is one of the most demanding playing positions in soccer. This is because the wingback position is expected to make penetrating runs in the opposing team’s half and also run back to help the fullbacks defend against the opponent’s team as needed.
They run eighty to ninety yards up and down the field for most of the game and it goes without saying that this player’s physical ability should be top-notch.
This player requires great ball control and movement to be able to participate offensively on the pitch. As a wingback, you should be able to overlap and send good and accurate crosses into the opponent’s team’s box using both your feet.
A wingback should have an attacking instinct, excellent intercepting and dribbling abilities to get past their opponents easily. Additionally, the wingback provides width for his team’s offensive play by pushing deep into the opposing team’s half, and must ensure excellent ball control even when running at fast speeds
Wingbacks are primarily defensive players and, therefore, need a skillset that can match the regular defender.
Additionally, however, wingbacks run up and down the pitch and are required to mark the opponents’ wingers, who are the fastest players on the pitch.
These two roles require a wingback to have great speed to be able to run tirelessly across the field.
During practice, a wingback should mainly focus on the ball. You need to have excellent ball control skills and be able to pass it accurately so as to open up the midfield.
Below are examples of drills that will help you keep the keep the ball on the ground and master your ball skills.
Pass the ball between you and a partner at a distance of 20 yards and you can always use a wall in case you do not have somebody to practice with.
The role of the wingback is to direct forwards away from the center of the pitch, take control of the ball at full speed and then send it out to the opponent’s side of the soccer pitch.
This exercise helps the player keep attention on the ball without losing step.
Always ensure your body is positioned at an angle and side step backwards instead of spinning, hence saving yourself and team from missing vital steps during game play.
The wingback is the most likely player to take throw-ins during the game. You should therefore practice to throw in balls that are effective and travel the distance you mean them to.
For this, you can use a soccer medicine ball that weighs slightly more than the regular football. While standing on the touch line, throw the ball in bounds at a partner acting as any midfield player.
To improve on this skill, make overlapping runs towards the opponent’s goal line then cross the ball in after you have moved up the pitch past the midfield.
An excellent wingback should be able to send the ball out of their half of the field – this requires a powerful kick.
It is, therefore, important to include squats and lunges to your practice routine as well as practice different kicking techniques to find one that works well for you.
In case your game play focuses more on ball possession, learn to keep the ball on the ground while making passes to your teammates.
The wingback rarely scores goals on the field but is strategically placed at the edge of the pitch to make creative passes to forwards and widen the gameplay.
This role is just as important as scoring goals and they provide width to the game as they move up and down the pitch playing a defensive role but with emphasis on attacking.
When a team has a wingback with good dribbling skills, these players can help disrupt the opponent’s game flow by going at their defenders, leaving the forwards unmarked and with space to create a goal.
In this way, the wingback gives the team more space to play at the center of the pitch and easily fall back to position when required.
To get a good feel of how to play the wingback, you can watch players who play the wingback position in different game situations.
For example, Dani Alves who plays for Brazil, plays an attacking role more than a defensive one and is always a goal threat when given a pass.
Another notable example is Joshua Kimmich who plays in the Bundesliga.
Brazil seems to produce outstanding wingbacks over the years with Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Dani Alves fitting the bill.
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