Playing Out From The Back – The Basics

Playing out from the back is one of the most important elements of the modern game. Not only is it better for development than kicking it long, it is also easier and allows a team fewer risks at losing the ball. As a result, coaches of any age group should be looking to teach players young and old the necessary steps of playing out from the back. In order to help guide these coaches, we take a look at some of the most basic elements of playing out from the back, with example diagrams from a 7v7 team playing 2-3-1.


1. Defenders wide, close to the goalkeeper, close to the ball and close to the box. First pass is to a defender who looks to play forward if possible.

2. Central players provide options to support. Far-sided players shift to the middle to provide balance in case of losses of possession.

3. The defenders should also look to use the space and dribble forward until the right moment to pass if they are able to play forward. If they are not, the goalkeeper is the best backwards option.

4. If the other team has not retreated (such as older age groups), the defenders will be safe inside of the box instead as the other team is not allowed inside the eighteen-yard box when the goalkeeper has the ball in their hands or on a goal kick.

Switching Play

1. If the defender cannot play forward, they can look to play backwards to the goalkeeper and switch play. This ball should be backwards and not sideways across the middle, as the other team will be ready to steal it.

2. This means that as soon as the far-sided defender and winger see the backwards pass being made, they should get wide again to provide support.

why is it so neccessary?

1.  Better for development. More players touch the ball, more players engage in 1v1 situations and more players practice playing under pressure.

2. More successful. Less likely to just give it right back to the other team and practically guaranteed to have at least 1 successful pass (especially for age groups with a retreat line). Every time the goalkeeper kicks it long, they create a 50/50 situation as opposed to a guaranteed first pass. The closer the defenders get to the goalkeeper, the more space they will have to advance into. Further, with the new rule allowing players inside their own box on goal kicks, defenders are safe to receive in that zone without needing to worry about the danger of having the ball stolen before receiving.

3. Better for the development of the opposition. Pressing from the front is another essential modern day tactic. Teams who play out from the back compliment their opponents looking to press from the front. But in order for the opposition to actually gain proper practice at winning the ball back high up the pitch, they need to be able to practice it without just being gifted the ball back without working for it.

So there it is! The basics of Playing out from the Back for any team, with diagrams and examples for a team’s first introduction to the concept at the 7v7 stage. It doesn’t matter how old the players are, every coach should be looking to teach their players how to effectively play out from the back, furthering their development in the process. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter @mastermindsite.

You might also enjoy…

-> Playing out from the Back (9v9)
-> Playing Out From The Back – Full Session Plan and Key Coaching Points


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