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Keepers, Defenders, Midfielders and Forwards. What is expected of you in a given position on the field?

Often we talk about formations. 4-4-2, 5-4-1, 4-3-3 just to mention the most common and all of them take specific strategies and specific characteristics from specific players in a given position.

Aside from this, which is clearly connected with the formation that we choose, there is a more general description of what the players have to do when they occupy their place on the field.

The 4 great categories are Keepers, Defenders, Mid-fielders and Forwards.

Please don’t misunderstand me. When the other team has the ball or when we lose it, all 10 players are defenders who hunt for the ball. When we have the ball in a crowded situation on half field, all 10 players are midfielders and when we are in a crowded area in attack, all the players are forwards and can try to score.

I’m just talking about the general things to do when acting in one of these 4 general categories.


They are a world apart. I’ve underline this in past news letters and I will do so in the future.

They are the owners of the area. Players have to listen to them when the ball is in the area. First of all: communication! Yell KEEEPPPEEERRRRR!!!! when you come out to punch or catch. Any high ball in the keeper area, is a keeper ball. It’s your responsibility to come out and manage the ball in your area!!! When you have the ball in your hands you have to do only one thing: DON’T GIVE THE BALL BACK TO THE OTHER TEAM! So, give the ball with your hands left or right to the defenders and punt it forward ONLY if the opponent team is totally out of balance forward.

Come out in time to challenge an opponent on a breakthrough. Staying in goal in this situation, is a soccer suicide! Always punch high balls with the FISTS. Always protect yourself on the ground by becoming a ball around the ball. Don’t face opponents on the ground with YOUR face, arms, hands or shoulders and always protect your body with your feet, by staying behind them!!!!!!

Remember that if they score, it’s never your fault. There are another 10 players that should forbid the opponent to arrive in a situation in which they can score. So, if they score, forgive yourself and forget the goals.


In a team that plays the flat 4 in line, the defenders are like one person. They are a kind of movable wall on the field. They are the bricks of this wall and if someone stays behind when the wall pushes forward, it’s like to taking a fundamental brick away and the wall will collapse. This player, will keep all the opponent’s forwards in play, totally unmarked, free to score if they receive the ball.

But this is still a defense section effort. What do you have to do individually?

The most important thing is not to receive the ball from your teammates by facing your own goal! This will trap you and prohibit you to turn. Often in doing this, you will lose the ball.

What should you do to avoid this? Very easy! Learn to run backward and receive the ball by facing the opponent field. This will permit you to see all the opponents and your team mate.

If you are trapped by facing your goal, pass back to the keeper! Please don’t pass to them at the near post, because you’ll trap them. Instead send the ball across, in front of the goal. The keeper will come out and just prolong the trajectory of the ball to the other defender by switching field and restarting in counter attack on the opposing wing.

During a throw-in, all of you have to mark by staying behind the opponents. There is no offside so, if you stay in front and the throw-in pass over your head, you will never reach an opponent who runs away like a rocket on the lateral corridor toward the end line.

When there is a ball 50/50 just in front of your own goal, don’t kick hard just to send the ball strait to half field. In 50% of the cases, the ball will hit someone, opponents or team mate, and will bounce into your own goal. So stay calm and send it outside on the wings, parallel to the end line.

The same during cross or corner. Don’t hit the ball with the head and send it forward at the border of the big box where the opponents will win it back and shoot on goal. Instead, prolong the trajectory or send it out of the box with a 45 degree angle.

In counter attach, the external defenders have to follow their wings. If they are trapped at the bottom line, they will pass back to the defenders who will immediately cross. A cross from ¾ field in attack, is one of the best ways to reach the forwards and score.


You are the 4 players that can really make the difference. Those of you who play chess know really well that by owning the center of the board you’ll win the game. It’s the same in soccer. If the 2 central midfielders, with the help of the 2 external, own the center field, they will stop the other team and constantly launch the counter attack. They always have 4 choices in front of them: the 2 forwards and the 2 other mild fielders who, by sprinting forward on the wings, will create a numerical superiority that often will lead to score.

The basic roles of these 4 players, aside from the counter attack, is to act as a second line defense. You have to pretend that behind you there is only the keeper. This means that if you are beaten by an opponent, this player can go strait to score! You have to follow this player who beat you and put pressure on him or her until the REAL defenders (first line defense) challenge him or her. If you do this, you always DOUBLE TEAM the opponent who carries the ball. Acting this way, you will win the ball back and launch, once again, the famous counter attack!

In conclusion, when the opponent team has the ball, you have to be BEHIND the ball! Between the ball and your own goal. If you’re not there, you’re in the wrong position!


Like the keepers, you are a world apart! I was a forward. My job was to score goals!!!!!!! If I didn’t score, it was like I didn’t played the game. So, forwards have to be EGOIST!!!!! If you have a chance you have to score. To do this takes a unique characteristic: The killer instinct. This is not something that can be taught and consequently learned. It can ONLY be developed if it’s already there.

Obviously, the correct shooting technique is fundamental but, after this, if the forward is not a cool person under pressure, there is no way to score consistently! It’s a characteristic that only a few people have, no matter what their age is, that permits them to see soccer situations in a kind of slow motion. They see the other players freeze and see the corridor in which to send the ball strait to the bottom of the net at the far post or in the high corner, away from defenders and keeper.

This can be done with the feet or the head. Don’t try to make holes in the net by kicking as hard as possible and maybe missing the goal! Just ‘deposit’ the ball in the net.

Lucky you coaches, if you have one or two of this kind of players!

If you don’t have players with this characteristic please, at least teach them the correct kicking technique and ask them, if they are not in an open position, to make a kick fake, move the ball to the side and shoot with the other foot. Obviously, making the fake with the weak foot and shooting with the good one!!!!!

Clearly, in all the 4 categories there are many other aspects, but if the players on your team will do this, it will already be enough for being unstoppable and consequently………………………………………… victorious!

Coach Gianni
Posted on 24 Oct 2006 by coachgianni
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