Tactical Roles

A player's tactical role is the set of tactical instructions that he is assigned. A tactical role includes an attacking role, which is the tactical role in the attacking phases, and a defensive role, which is the tactical role in the defensive phases.

A player's tactical role can therefore be broadly described by the extent to which he should use each playing method, relative to the team's other players.

There are essentially an unlimited number of different tactical roles that a team can assign to its players. However, they can be analysed in terms of a limited number of distinct and simplified component role types that can be composited to form more complex composite role types.

Some composite role types can be used as auxiliary playing position role types, which instruct movement into a different positional area.

When assigning tactical roles a team should consider the player suitability of its players. This can be assessed partly from player suitability for the playing methods that tactical roles instruct to be carried out to a relatively greater extent and partly from role understanding.

A player's role understanding of a tactical role is his understanding of the positional responsibilities that he should perform when playing in the tactical role. The better his role understanding of a tactical role is, the better his decision making is when playing in the tactical role. A player can develop his role understanding by playing in a tactical role over a period of time, preferably from a young age.

Component Role Types

A component role type is a part of a tactical role comprised of a single tactical instruction that relates to the use of a single playing method. For example, a particular playing position is essentially a component role type, as is a tactical instruction to make forward runs to a greater extent relative to other players.

Component role types can be categorised into positional role types, attacking role types and defensive role types.

Positional Role Types

A positional role type is a component role type that relates to the use of a tactical shape playing method.

Each playing position is therefore a positional role type, while the other main positional role types are detailed below.

As explained in the Tactical Organisation guide, a player's attacking instructions and defensive instructions regarding tactical shape are usually similar. Therefore, positional role types can generally be considered to apply to both the attacking phases and the defensive phases.

Wide Central Player / Line-Hugging Wide Player

This positional role type can be referred to as the wide central player when composited with a central playing position and the line-hugging wide player when composited with a wide playing position.

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Narrow Player

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Attacking Role Types

An attacking role type is a component role type that relates to the use of an attacking method. It is therefore part of an attacking role.

The main attacking role types are detailed below. For some an alternative name is shown in square brackets.

Offensive Player

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Supporting Player

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Sitting Player

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Deep-Dropping Player

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This attacking role type is typically not composited with a defender playing position, since a deep-dropping defender would make it difficult for a team to restrict onside space effectively.

Roaming Player

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Channel-Running Player

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This attacking role type is typically only composited with a central attacker playing position or auxiliary playing position (positional or attacking phase - explained below).

Drifting Player

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Disciplined-Running Player

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Dribbling Player

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This attacking role type is typically not composited with a central defender playing position, since a dribbling central defender is likely to concede possession in or near to central defence.

Restricted-Dribbling Player

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Wide-Dribbling Central Player / Inverted Wide Player

This positional role type can be referred to as the wide-dribbling central player when composited with a central playing position and the inverted wide player when composited with a wide playing position.

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A wide-dribbling central player makes direct dribbles towards and within wide positional areas (the flanks) to a greater extent and an inverted wide player makes direct dribbles towards and within central positional areas to a greater extent.

Disciplined-Dribbling Player

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Hold-Up Player

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This attacking role type is typically only composited with a centre forward playing position or, less commonly, a wing forward playing position.

Passing Player [Passer]

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Restricted-Passing Player

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Ball-Playing Player

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Safe-Passing Player

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Crossing Player [Crosser]

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This attacking role type is typically only composited with a wide playing position.

Restricted-Crossing Player

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This attacking role type is typically only composited with a wide playing position.

Deep-Crossing Player

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This attacking role type is typically only composited with a wide playing position.

Byline-Crossing Player

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This attacking role type is typically only composited with a wide playing position.

Shot-Taking Player

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Restricted-Shooting Player

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Creative Player

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Disciplined Player

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Defensive Role Types

A defensive role type is a component role type that relates to the use of a defensive method. It is therefore part of a defensive role.

The main defensive role types are detailed below. For some an alternative name is shown in square brackets.

Aggressive Player [Aggressor]

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Cautious Player

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Man-Marking Player

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Zonal-Marking Player

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Tight-Marking Player

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Loose-Marking Player

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Hard-Tackling Player

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Easy-Tackling Player

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Composite Role Types

A composite role type is a particular composite of two or more component role types.

A tactical role is therefore itself a composite role type as it is comprised of multiple component role types, as well as multiple 'sub' composite role types. As such, composite role types enable a more specific analysis of tactical roles.

A composite role type can be referred to by the names of the component role types that it includes. If a playing position (or playing position category) is included then this can replace the term player. For example, a composite of the supporting player, the passing player, the ball-playing player and the centre midfielder playing position can be referred to as the supporting, passing and ball-playing centre midfielder.

Where a component role type has an alternative name (as shown in square brackets), the alternative name can be detailed after the playing position and the name of the playing position may be shortened so the name of the composite role type reads more fluidly. For example, the supporting, passing and ball-playing centre midfielder can alternatively be referred to as the supporting and ball-playing centre midfield passer.

A composite role type can also be given its own unique name. Examples of composite role types are detailed below. Their names can be used in the same way as detailed above for component role types.

Holding Player

The holding player composite role type includes the following component role types:

The sitting player and disciplined-running player component role types are typically assigned together as the holding player composite role type, in order to enable sufficient variation in movement from players who make forward runs to an average or greater extent and to avoid too much variation in movement from players who sit back to a greater extent.

Flank-Dribbling Wide Player

The flank-dribbling wide player composite role type includes the following component role types:

A flank-dribbling wide player makes direct dribbles down the flank to a greater extent, usually close to the touchline in order to stretch play, rather than attempting to take advantage of any opportunies to move with the ball into more threatening areas inside the flank.

Since such movement tends to isolate the player from his teammates, the flank-dribbling wide player is typically composited with the crossing player so that the player can still penetrate space effectively from wide areas. Furthermore, the use of direct dribbles to take the player closer to the byline means that it is usually also composited with the byline-crossing player.

Auxiliary Playing Position Role Types

An auxiliary playing position role type for a particular playing position is a composite role type that includes a different playing position (the assigned playing position) but instructs movement into or near to the playing position concerned (the auxiliary playing position). It therefore indirectly instructs a player to play in or near the auxiliary playing position.

An auxiliary player in a particular auxiliary playing position (where the word 'player' can be substituted for the auxiliary playing position) is a player who is assigned an auxiliary playing position role type for that auxiliary playing position.

An auxiliary player acts, to some extent, like he would if he was assigned a similar composite role type that directly instructed him to play in the auxiliary playing position.

Auxiliary playing position role types can be categorised as positional, attacking phase, on the ball and defensive phase.

Positional Auxiliary Playing Position Role Types

A positional auxiliary playing position role type instructs movement near to the auxiliary playing position, usually in all phases of play, as a result of its inclusion of a positional role type.

Positional auxiliary playing position role types include:

Attacking Phase Auxiliary Playing Position Role Types

An attacking phase auxiliary playing position role type instructs movement into or near to the auxiliary playing position in the attacking phases, specifically when the player is off the ball (although on the ball movement in or near the auxiliary playing position is likely to follow when the player receives the ball), as a result of its inclusion of an attacking role type related to off the ball movement.

Attacking phase auxiliary playing position role types include:

On the Ball Auxiliary Playing Position Role Types

An on the ball auxiliary playing position role type instructs movement into or near to the auxiliary playing position in the attacking phases, specifically when the player is on the ball, as a result of its inclusion of an attacking role type related to on the ball movement.

On the ball auxiliary playing position role types include:

Defensive Phase Auxiliary Playing Position Role Types

A defensive phase auxiliary playing position role type instructs movement into or near to the auxiliary playing position in the defensive phases as a result of its inclusion of a defensive role type.

Defensive phase auxiliary playing position role types include: