Fullback

Sport: Soccer

A position in defense with the primary role of defending in and around the penalty area usually staying close to the touch-line. The most popular formation to use a full-back is in a 4-4-2. A full-back usually doesn’t have the same attacking freedom as a wing-back.

Why is it called a Fullback in Soccer?

The name Fullback comes from Soccer in the late 1800s and simply meant that the players in this position were the last line of defense, e.g. “fully back”. As Soccer has evolved this position has moved closer to the touchlines, now giving players different roles in a match. 

How many Fullbacks are there and where are they positioned?

In a normal starting 11 there are 2 full-backs, usually referred to as a ‘left back’ and ‘right back’. Each full-back will line up close to either touchline and will keep this position throughout the match. The player’s primary job is to stay just outside their penalty area trying to stop the ball from entering the goal area.

What are the defensive roles of a Fullback?

A full-back can be used in offensive and defensive situations in a match. As they line up in a defense their primary role is to stop crosses coming into the penalty area from an opposition winger, and generally to help their center-half defend their goal. If the fullback becomes isolated or outnumbered they must try to delay a cross being played and wait for support from a teammate.

A fullback has the responsibility of defending the touchlines and corner of the pitch they are playing. They must try to stay tight to the opposition wingers however if during the match their central defenders become outnumbered they will come across and help out.

As the fullback has important defensive duties it is important they try to win back possession from the opposition before the attack arrives near their goal area. This is crucial as it breaks down an attack and stops the opponents from creating a goal scoring opportunity. 

As winning possession back for their team is important, so is discipline. The ability to tackle is crucial as is the tackle is reckless or dangerous they could risk receiving a caution or even a red card.

What are the offensive roles of a Fullback?

In offensive situations a full-back is required to run down the touchline and send crosses into the opposition penalty area, assisting attacking players or creating goal-scoring opportunities. 

The fullback position can be very important when their team is attacking as they are in a wide position. Overlapping runs with their wingers or one-two passes can split an opposition defense open and create an opportunity for their team. In some cases, the fullback can make a run into the opposition penalty area and try to score themselves as they are in the best shooting position. 

When a fullback is in possession of the ball it is crucial they use it effectively as losing possession could put their team in danger. Ball control and passing ability are important as they often play at a high speed, playing one touch passes with their teammates.

As a fullback can be needed to provide crosses in to the opposition penalty area, communication with their teammates is crucial. The movement of the attacker needs to be in time with the execution of the pass. This is usually planned in training but when the game has started communication is important. 

It is also very common in Soccer for either the left or right fullback to take a corner for their team. This allows the bigger, stronger, and more dangerous goal threats to be in the opposition penalty area. Fullbacks will often do extra set-piece practice in training.

What formations are best for fullbacks?

A fullback can be used mainly in a formation with a 4 man defensive line such as 4-4-2 and 4-3-3. They can be used in a 5 man defense however this usually changes the role of their position to a wingback. 

Fullback vs Wingback in Soccer?

The main difference between these two positions is primarily the part of the pitch they set up and the roles they play. Although a wingback is still thought of as a defender they have more of an attacking style than a natural fullback.

The wingback position plays a little further up the field helping their midfield with attacking moves. They can be very effective when their team plays with 3 center-halfs in a 5-3-2 formation, allowing them to play more like defensive wingers.  

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