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How to Play Center Back

Updated on August 17, 2014

Center Back is a high-pressure position that requires a smart player. Center back is a position where it is beneficial to be tall; center backs are continuously challenged with balls over the top and they must be willing to win them in the air. Communication is very important because center backs have the best view of the pitch besides the keeper and can therefore offer useful information to the rest of the team. Center backs also have to make many little decisions throughout the game, many of which can lead to a goal for the other team. 


Center backs are always winning the ball, so they must know what to do with it. Knowing when to hit a long ball, and when to play short is a very important skill. When the team has possession, the center backs must spread out and create space to play in. They are constantly switching the ball from outside back to outside back, forcing the opposing team to keep adjusting to a new point of attack. Center backs are often passing the ball to the central midfielders, allowing them to orchestrate the attacks. The most important thing for center backs is the not give away the ball. One poor pass in the defense could lead to a goal scoring opportunity for the other team.


Center Backs are the last line of defense.  In a flat back four the shape of the defense needs to be in constant motion, adjusting to the point of attack. Center backs often organize the team defensively and are constantly communicating with the rest of the team. They also need to win balls in the air and disrupt passing near the goal. One on one defending also needs to be handled confidently, they cannot dive in. Maintaining shape is the most important thing for center backs to do. If there is always cover being provided by the flat back four it is much more difficult for the other team to score. 


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