how to play as a fullback

How to Play as a FullBack

The attributes of a full-back may be simple in terms of describing, but its implementation is much harder than explaining it. Their roles and ability nowadays define their teams. Gone are the days when a fullback was supposed to stay deep and provide cover for the central defenders.

It’s now completely different, and we’ll help you understand what needs to be done in critical situations when playing the role on a football pitch. Visualization goes a long way in understanding the roles and with fullbacks it’s no different. Lets get into it

Marcelo has been an incredible full-back for Real Madrid down the years

There are certain drills being utilized in order to ensure that you can produce an incredible full-back within yourself. These drills are planned as a way to help you read situations better on the pitch.


The drill of 1v1s
  • 2 channels are being created with goals within each channel.
  • Blue passes to red then moves on to pitch to defend.
  • Red tries to take on Blue player and score. 
  • If blue wins ball rolls are reversed.

It is important for both the red and the blue players to anticipate the opposition’s movement. The tackles should be timed to perfection and the player should not be dive in. Cross legs may easily enable you to get nutmegged.

Defensive Overlap

Defensive overlap drill
  • Player 1 passes the ball to Player 2 and makes an off-the-ball movement towards the byline.
  • Player 2 passes the ball to Player 4, who plays it back to Player 3.
  • Player 3 lofts the ball above Players 4 and 2 to Player 1 who has made the initial movement, hence creating a triangle.
  • Player 1 now has created an overlap and now has to time his cross to perfection to meet the heads of Player 4 and 5.

Cutting off opposition’s press

Beating the press
  • It’s important for the red fullback to understand the situation when he gets pressed by the white players. However, the winger that complements him should also be aware of it and should drop deep.
  • Now its upon the choice of the red full-back. Most players usually take the easy route and pass the ball to the center-backs behind them.
  • If they really trust their ball-playing ability or skill, they either dribble their way past the full-back or pass it to the winger who has dropped deep.


Drill to attack and stop a counter-attack
  • The team in blue has the ball with the reds in a defensive organization. The blue full-back is in an advanced position.
  • The red midfielder intercepts the ball and checks the movement of the red full-back.
  • For the red full-back to attack the counter-attack, he has to create an overlap to dissect the blue defensive midfielder who is there to shut the counter-attack.
  • For the blue full-back to defend the counter-attack, first he has to anticipate whether the blue defensive midfielder can bisect the through pass from the red midfielder. If not, then he should coincide with the run of the red full-back so he doesn’t allow any space for him to create an attack.

Attacking Outlet

Drill for the supporting in attack

The full-back here has two options and we’ll talk about both of them below:

  • In situation A, the grey midfielder moves into the empty space where he cannot be pressed by cutting inside.
  • Grey midfielder allows the full-back to make the run off the ball.
  • Grey midfielder checks the full-back run and passes it into the empty space.
  1. In situation B, the grey winger is making a diagonal run with the ball.
  2. The grey full-back is also making the run beyond him. In this aspect, communication is vitally important which ensures the winger to pick the correct pass.
  3. The grey full-back may also check his run initially, pass it back and then run, ensuring that the oppositional full-back has no time to recover his position.
  4. Then it’s all about the grey full-back’s decision making in the final-third.


Fullbacks are evolving, and as a coach you have to evolve with them. They are now a critical part of every top team in Europe and as a coach it’s becoming imperative to give them the tools to successfully attack and plan accordingly.

Gone are the days of fullbacks staying put in their respective positions. Risk + Reward is the name of the game now and we as coaches have to move with that in mind.