Fullback Soccer Position

The Full Back

The full-backs in a soccer team are normally positioned on opposite ends of the defensive line and are technically referred to as either right-back or left-back.

Most team formations include these two soccer positions but in some rare cases the defense may have only two center-backs and no full-backs.

The role of the full-back continues to evolve and today they are not as passive as they were before.

In modern soccer full-backs overlap more with the wingers and are involved in more attacks especially down the flanks.

This is more evident in formations that do not have wingers such as 4-4-2 system, where the full-backs have to cover more ground along the flanks.

Skills Required to be a Good Full Back

When I think about full backs Roberto Carlos springs to mind, but that wa more for his attacking flair and crazy free kicks than anything else, but what are the key skills that fullbacks will need to make them the allround player?

Here’s a quick rundown of the abilities you should possess as a full-back:

Physical Dominance

This a defensive position, therefore, as a full-back you should be able to establish an imposing presence that will deter the opposing players.

Basically if you play in this position you have to provide adequate physical obstruction in order to thwart any attacks.

Soccer Intelligence

This is simply the ability to read the game and take quick decisive action that will capitalize on your opponents shortcomings.

When combined with good physical ability, this factor can give you an edge over rival players.

Good Tackling Skills

Full-backs don’t usually make challenges in the opponents’ territory and instead focus more on dispossessing any opposing player who breaches their back-line.

This calls for quick reflexes and combative confrontations to always win the ball.

Clever Marking

When playing in the full-back position you should be able to discern when to use man-to-man marking and when use zonal marking.

Poor marking could adversely affect the defensive line and lead to conceding of goals.

Tactical Discipline

This generally describes the ability to follow the team strategy while still knowing how to use your discretion when faced with a challenge on the pitch.

This also includes coordinating with teammates and ensuring that they do not overrun the backline which may create unwanted gaps in defensive structure. 

Drills for Full Backs

The fullback position is quite pivotal for any soccer team and it requires a range of skills that can be sharpened using the following drills.

These basic exercises can be done with team members or alone depending on the input and intensity required:

Evasion Drills

The full-back is required to counter the opposing team’s players and help move the ball upfront to fellow team mates in good positions.

Evasion exercises will help improve your defensive skills and a this simple drill helps you learn how to retain the ball while in motion.

This can be done by playing with a partner in a 10 x 10 foot area and taking turns trying to dispossess the ball from your opponent.

This is a basic one-on-one drill that focuses on sharpening evasion skills while improving your dribbling skills at the same time.

Passing and Receiving

As a full-back, you spend a considerable amount of time gaining possessing the ball. It is, therefore, important to sharpen your ball passing and receiving skills.

A simple drill that you could adopt when practicing with your teammates is done as follows.

Divide yourselves into two opposing sides and line up facing each other with a few feet separating then team members.

A player on one side has the ball which he will pass to the player across from him and once the other player receives it he will pass the ball back.

After each pass all the players take a step back to widen the gap between the opposing sides.

You can do several sets of this drill and add some variations if necessary. 


Maintaining sharp focus and keenness while on the pitch an important for all players.

As a full-back you need to ensure that you always know where your teammates are positioned since this will determine which way you will dribble or pass.

To practice how to maintain concentration in the field of play you can do this basic agility drill. 

Set up cones (or any other available markers) in intervals and dribble around them, going back and forth.

You can switch up the pattern to make the drill more intense and challenging.

Try as much as possible to maintain constant possession and avoid hitting the cones.

This is a great way of enhancing coordination and for better concentration during games.         

The Importance of the Full-Back Position

Zones Full Backs Operate In

Full-backs occupy wide holding positions on a team’s backline and are the pillars of any defense. 

When a coach omits the wingers in a team’s formation, the full-backs have the added task of commanding their respective flanks.

This means that in addition to their conventional positions, full-backs can also play the role of utility players. So apart from the conventional function of obstructing attacks what is the importance of full-backs?

  • They maintain tactical discipline by ensuring their teammates do not inadvertently overrun the defense.
  • They create opportunities for set-pieces and often initiate creative set-pieces. 
  • Offensive full-backs have a role to play in pushing opposing players back into their own half by instigating attacks, thus creating a striking advantage.
  • A large proportion of full-backs are tasked with the role of executing throw-ins.

These are just a few of the many roles that make full-backs an integral part of any soccer team. Their technical and physical attributes should be combined to boost the strength of a squad.

Famous Full-Backs Past and Present

They are hardly discussed as contenders for the annual Ballon d’Or award but the impact that full-backs have on a soccer team is immeasurable.

Some of the biggest names in soccer have played in this position and the legends include Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Javier Zanetti, Paolo Maldini, Lilian Thuram, Franco Baresi among many others.

The current crop of players making waves in the full-back position include Dani Alves, Philipp Lahm, Antonio Valencia, Kyle Walker and Marcos Alonso.

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