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Building from the Back: Constructing Attacks from Goalkeeper to Forward

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Building from the Back: Constructing Attacks from Goalkeeper to Forward

Constructing attacks from the back is a sophisticated strategy in modern soccer that prioritizes controlled possession and strategic build-up play. This guide delves into the nuanced interplay between goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards to ensure seamless transitions from defense to attack.

The Role of the Goalkeeper

Distribution Techniques

  • Roll Out: Ideal for short, quick starts. Useful when defenders are open and ready to receive the ball.
  • Throw: Longer than a roll-out, perfect for counter-attacks with wingers sprinting into space.
  • Punt/Kick: Used for long clearances, aiming towards a target man or the wings to bypass high-pressing opponents.

Decision Making

Goalkeepers must assess the field quickly:

  • Check opponent's pressing strategy.
  • Communicate effectively with defenders.
  • Decide the best distribution method to maintain possession.

Defender Movement

Center Backs

  • Split Wide: During goal kicks, center backs move towards the flanks, creating space for build-up.

    | Movement Type | Description                            |
    | Split Wide    | Center backs move to the flanks        |
    | Pass and Move | Quick passes to midfield and reposition |
  • Pass and Move: Quick, short passes to the midfield followed by repositioning to offer subsequent passing options.


  • Overlapping Runs: Move up the wings to provide width and support wide midfielders.
  • Inverted Runs: Cut inside to create additional midfield support or shooting opportunities.

Midfield Support

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Defensive Midfielder (CDM):

    • Act as a pivot, receiving from defenders and distributing to attacking midfielders.
    • Drop deep to offer additional passing option under high press.
  • Central Midfielders (CM):

    • Find pockets of space for receiving the ball from defenders.
    • Transition play from defense to attack with forward passes or dribbles.
    | Position            | Key Responsibilities                                               |
    | Defensive Midfielder| Act as pivot, support defense, distribute to attack                |
    | Central Midfielders | Transition play, find space, link defense and attack               |
  • Wide Midfielders/Wingers:

    • Stay wide to stretch opposition.
    • Make runs behind the defense to receive long balls from defenders or midfielders.

Forward Strategy

Positioning and Movement

  • Hold-Up Play: Target forwards receive and hold the ball, allowing the team to advance and support.
  • Channels and Gaps: Forwards should move into wide channels or between defenders to exploit space and receive through-balls.
  • Pressing Triggers: Lead the press to win the ball high up the pitch when opposition defenders are under pressure.

Key Attacking Movements

  1. Lateral Interchange: Forwards and wingers swapping positions disrupt defensive marking.
  2. Diagonal Runs: Forward runs slanting diagonally to create confusion and open spaces.
    | Movement Type      | Description                                                 |
    | Lateral Interchange| Forwards and wingers swapping positions to disrupt marking  |
    | Diagonal Runs      | Create confusion, open spaces by running diagonally         |

Tips for Coaches and Players


  • Drill Repetitions: Regularly practice build-up play in training sessions.
  • Scenario Simulation: Create game-like scenarios to improve decision-making under pressure.
  • Video Analysis: Use match footage to highlight good practices and areas for improvement.


  • Communication: Constantly talk to teammates to coordinate movements and passing options.
  • Awareness: Always be aware of your surroundings - know the location of opponents, teammates, and space.
  • Patience and Precision: Take your time to ensure accurate passes; avoid the temptation of hurried clearances.
    | Tip                | Description                                                  |
    | Communication      | Talk to teammates for better coordination                    |
    | Awareness          | Know your surroundings, locate opponents and teammates       |
    | Patience and Precision| Ensure accurate passing, avoid rushed decisions           |

Building from the back is an art that requires technical skill, tactical understanding, and team cohesion. By mastering these principles, you can transform your Teams defensive solidity into an attacking threat, ensuring a well-rounded game plan that keeps the opposition on their toes.