Positional Responsibilities

The positional responsibilities in a particular positional area are the tasks that must be carried out in that positional area by a team’s players in order to help the team to achieve its tactical objectives.

Each positional responsibility can be performed differently depending on the tactical roles of the players who play in or near the relevant positional area.

The main positional responsibilities are:

  • Providing cover
    • Forming a defensive line
    • Providing attacking cover
    • Providing defensive cover
  • Applying defensive pressure
  • Stretching play
  • Playing safe
  • Creating chances
  • Taking chances

Detailed below for each positional responsibility, where relevant, are:

  • Summary – a summary of the positional responsibility.
  • Phases of play – the phases of play that the positional responsibility is performed in.
  • Tactical objectives – the tactical objectives that the positional responsibility relates to.
  • Tactical risk – the tactical risk level that is associated with the positional responsibility.
  • Key tactical dynamics – the tactical dynamics that are most directly related to the positional responsibility.
  • Importance – the importance level of the positional responsibility in each of the main positional areas.
  • Direct role types – the component and composite role types that are related to the performance of the positional responsibility and its key tactical dynamics.
  • Key role types – direct role types that enable a player to perform the positional responsibility to a much greater extent. They directly relate to the positional responsibility’s tactical risk.
  • Supplementary role types – other direct role types that enable a player to perform the positional responsibility to a greater extent. They directly relate to the positional responsibility’s tactical risk.
  • Conflicting role types – direct role types that oppose the key role types and so prevent a player from performing the positional responsibility to any significant extent. They inversely relate to the positional responsibility’s tactical risk.
  • Adverse role types – other direct role types that hinder a player from performing the positional responsibility to some extent. They inversely relate to the positional responsibility’s tactical risk.
  • Indirect role types – other component and composite role types that are related to the performance of the positional responsibility but not its key tactical dynamics.
  • Suitable indirect role types – indirect role types that may enable a player to perform the positional responsibility to a greater extent.
  • Unsuitable indirect role types – indirect role types that may hinder a player from performing the positional responsibility to some extent.

Providing Cover

Summary

Phases of play: attacking phases and defensive phases.

Tactical objectives:

Tactical risk: lower risk.

Build-up play: earlier stages.

Key tactical dynamics:

  • Tactical shape (all phases).
    • Attacking shape.
    • Defensive shape.
  • Player movement (all phases).
    • Off the ball movement.
    • Pressing.
    • Marking.
    • Resistance.

Importance:

  • Central defence – high.
  • Central midfield – high.
  • The flanks – low.
  • Central attack – low.

If regrouping is used to a sufficient extent during the team’s defensive transition then providing cover can be considered to be of lower importance, as regrouping can allow the separate positional responsibilities of providing attacking cover and providing defensive cover (both analysed below) to be considered independently. This is explained in the Tactical Organisation guide.

Responsibility Mentality

Direct Role Types

Key Role Types

Supplementary Role Types

Conflicting Role Types

Adverse Role Types

Indirect Role Types

Suitable Indirect Role Types

Unsuitable Indirect Role Types

Forming a Defensive Line

Summary

Phases of play: defensive phases.

Tactical objectives:

Tactical risk: not applicable.

Build-up play: not applicable (defensive phases).

Key tactical dynamics:

  • Player movement (defensive phases).
    • Offside line movement.

Importance:

  • Central defence – essential (centre back playing positions); irrelevant (sweeper playing position).
  • Other positional areas – irrelevant.

Forming a defensive line is a particular aspect of providing cover that is performed by players in centre back playing positions.

A team’s defensive line is a hypothetical horizontal line formed by at least two centre backs who are horizontally level. As such, it is usually level with, or close to, the offside line and therefore it is directly affected by the team’s offside line movement defensive instructions.

The team’s other outfield players should generally remain in front of the defensive line so that the centre backs can set the offside line and so restrict onside space, with the exception of any player who is assigned the sweeper playing position. If a player is assigned the sweeper playing position then he can provide defensive cover behind the defensive line but he makes it more difficult for the team to restrict onside space.

To ensure that a defensive line can be formed and maintained effectively throughout the defensive phases a team typically uses a line of restraint in the manner explained in the Playing Style Balance guide. In addition, providing attacking cover is generally considered to be of essential importance for players in centre back playing positions to ensure that a defensive line can be formed quickly during the team’s defensive transition.

Providing Attacking Cover

Summary

Phases of play: attacking phases.

Tactical objectives:

Tactical risk: lower risk.

Build-up play: earlier stages.

Key tactical dynamics:

  • Tactical shape (attacking phases).
    • Attacking shape.
  • Player movement (attacking phases).
    • Off the ball movement.

Importance:

  • Central defence – essential (centre back playing positions – for forming a defensive line); low (sweeper playing position).
  • Central midfield – high.
  • The flanks – low.
  • Central attack – low.

Responsibility Mentality

  • Low risk mentality.

Direct Role Types

Key Role Types

  • Holding player.

Supplementary Role Types

  • Sweeper.
  • Narrow wide player.
  • Sitting player (if not also a holding player).
  • Deep-dropping player.
  • Disciplined-running player (if not also a holding player).

Conflicting Role Types

  • Offensive player.
  • Roaming player.

Adverse Role Types

  • Line-hugging wide player.
  • Channel-running player.
  • Drifting player.

Indirect Role Types

Suitable Indirect Role Types

  • Restricted-dribbling player.
  • Disciplined-dribbling player.

Unsuitable Indirect Role Types

  • Dribbling player.
  • Wide-dribbling central player (if not also a restricted-dribbling player).
  • Inverted wide player (if not also a restricted-dribbling player).

Providing Defensive Cover

Summary

Phases of play: defensive phases.

Tactical objectives:

Tactical risk: lower risk.

Build-up play: not applicable (defensive phases).

Key tactical dynamics:

  • Tactical shape (defensive phases).
    • Defensive shape.
  • Player movement (defensive phases).
    • Pressing.
    • Marking.
    • Resistance.

Importance:

  • Central defence – medium.
  • Central midfield – medium.
  • The flanks
    • Deep wing halves – medium.
    • Advanced wing halves – low.
  • Central attack – low.

Responsibility Mentality

  • Low risk mentality.

Direct Role Types

Key Role Types

  • Cautious player.

Supplementary Role Types

  • Sweeper.
  • Narrow wide player.
  • Zonal-marking player.
  • Loose-marking player.
  • Easy-tackling player.

Conflicting Role Types

  • Aggressor.

Adverse Role Types

  • Man-marking player.
  • Tight-marking player.
  • Hard-tackling player.

Applying Defensive Pressure

Summary

Phases of play: defensive phases.

Tactical objectives:

Tactical risk: higher risk.

Build-up play: not applicable (defensive phases).

Key tactical dynamics:

  • Tactical shape (defensive phases).
    • Defensive shape.
  • Player movement (defensive phases).
    • Pressing.
    • Marking.
    • Resistance.

Importance:

  • Central defence – medium.
  • Central midfield – medium.
  • The flanks
    • Deep wing halves – low.
    • Advanced wing halves – medium.
  • Central attack – medium.

Responsibility Mentality

Direct Role Types

Key Role Types

  • Aggressor.

Supplementary Role Types

  • Man-marking player.
  • Tight-marking player.
  • Hard-tackling player.

Conflicting Role Types

  • Cautious player.

Adverse Role Types

  • Sweeper.
  • Zonal-marking player.
  • Loose-marking player.
  • Easy-tackling player.

Stretching Play

Summary

Phases of play: attacking phases.

Tactical objectives:

Tactical risk: higher risk.

Build-up play: later stages.

Key tactical dynamics:

  • Tactical shape (attacking phases).
    • Attacking shape.
  • Player movement (attacking phases).
    • Off the ball movement.

Importance:

  • Central defence – low.
  • Central midfield – medium.
  • The flanks – high.
  • Central attack – very high.

Responsibility Mentality

  • High risk mentality.

Direct Role Types

Key Role Types

  • Offensive player.

Supplementary Role Types

  • Line-hugging wide player.
  • Roaming player.
  • Channel-running central player.
  • Drifting central player.

Conflicting Role Types

  • Sitting player.

Adverse Role Types

  • Narrow wide player.
  • Deep-dropping player.
  • Disciplined-running player.

Indirect Role Types

Suitable Indirect Role Types

  • Dribbling player – enables a player to move into more advanced areas when on the ball.
  • Wide-dribbling central player – enables a central player to move into wider areas when on the ball.
  • Inverted wide player – enables a wide player to move into more advanced central areas when on the ball.

Unsuitable Indirect Role Types

  • Restricted-dribbling player.

Playing Safe

Summary

Phases of play: attacking phases.

Tactical objectives:

Tactical risk: lower risk.

Build-up play: earlier stages.

Key tactical dynamics:

  • Ball movement (attacking phases).
    • On the ball movement.
    • Passing.
    • Shooting.
    • Creativity.

Importance:

  • Central defence – fairly high.
  • Central midfield – medium.
  • The flanks – low.
  • Central attack – low.

Responsibility Mentality

  • Low risk mentality.

Direct Role Types

Key Role Types

  • Safe-passing player.

Supplementary Role Types

  • Restricted-dribbling player.
  • Disciplined-dribbling player.
  • Safe-passing central defence passer (relative to the passing range that is appropriate for the team’s passing range system) – enables a player to focus more on playing safe by clearing the ball away from central defence.

Conflicting Role Types

Adverse Role Types

  • Dribbling player.
  • Wide-dribbling central player (if not also a restricted-dribbling player).
  • Inverted wide player (if not also a restricted-dribbling player).
  • Passer (relative to the passing range that is appropriate for the team’s passing range system; if not also a safe-passing central defender).
  • Restricted-passing central defender (relative to the passing range that is appropriate for the team’s passing range system) – would hinder a player from playing safe by clearing the ball away from central defence when appropriate.

Indirect Role Types

Suitable Indirect Role Types

  • Disciplined-running player – enables a player to stay in a relatively fixed position, which helps the team to keep possession more easily.
  • Hold-up player – enables a player to wait for attacking support, which helps him to keep possession more easily.

Unsuitable Indirect Role Types

  • Roaming player.
  • Channel-running player.
  • Drifting player.

Creating Chances

Summary

Phases of play: attacking phases.

Tactical objectives:

Tactical risk: higher risk.

Build-up play: later stages.

Key tactical dynamics:

  • Ball movement (attacking phases).
    • On the ball movement.
    • Passing.
    • Creativity.

Importance:

  • Central defence – low.
  • Central midfield – medium.
  • The flanks – medium.
  • Central attack – high.

Responsibility Mentality

  • High risk mentality.

Direct Role Types

Key Role Types

  • Ball-playing central player (if not also an offensive player) – offensive and ball-playing central player is not considered to be a key role type since it would prevent a player from staying in relatively deep central areas in order to receive the ball more easily and make passes into space to teammates making forward runs ahead of him.
  • Wide crosser (if not also an inverted player).

Supplementary Role Types

  • Offensive and ball-playing central attacker.
  • Dribbling player.
  • Wide-dribbling central player.
  • Inverted wide player – enables a player to move into available space facing towards goal, resulting in higher quality penetrative opportunities.
  • Hold-up player (other than hold-up centre forward).*
  • Passer (relative to the passing range that is appropriate for the team’s passing range system).
  • Ball-playing wide player.
  • Creative player.*

*Hold-up players and creative players, if used, are often used as focal players so that the team can create goal-scoring chances more effectively.

A focal player is a player to whom a team focuses play to a greater extent. Particular types of focal players are discussed in the Role Categories guide.

Conflicting Role Types

  • Safe-passing central player (if not also an offensive central attacker).
  • Restricted-crossing wide player (if not also an inverted player).

Adverse Role Types

  • Offensive and safe-passing central attacker.
  • Restricted-dribbling player.
  • Disciplined-dribbling player (if not also a flank-dribbling wide crosser).
  • Restricted-passing player (relative to the passing range that is appropriate for the team’s passing range system).
  • Safe-passing wide player.
  • Disciplined player.

Indirect Role Types

Suitable Indirect Role Types

  • Restricted-shooting central midfielder or central attacker – enables a player to ignore a good quality goal-scoring chance and use his intelligence to attempt to exploit an even higher quality penetrative opportunity.

Unsuitable Indirect Role Types

  • Shot-taking central midfielder or central attacker.

Taking Chances

Summary

Phases of play: attacking phases.

Tactical objectives:

Tactical risk: higher risk.

Build-up play: later stages.

Key tactical dynamics:

  • Ball movement (attacking phases).
    • Shooting.

Importance:

  • Central defence – irrelevant.
  • Central midfield – low.
  • The flanks – irrelevant.
  • Central attack – medium.

Responsibility Mentality

  • High risk mentality.

Direct Role Types

Key Role Types

  • Shot-taking central midfielder or central attacker.

Conflicting Role Types

  • Restricted-shooting central midfielder or central attacker.

Indirect Role Types

Suitable Indirect Role Types

  • Offensive central midfielder or central attacker – enables a player to move into more advanced areas when off the ball, where he is more likely to have higher quality goal-scoring chances.
  • Dribbling central midfielder or central attacker – enables a player to move into more advanced areas when on the ball.

Unsuitable Indirect Role Types

  • Sitting central midfielder or central attacker.
  • Deep-dropping central midfielder or central attacker – would hinder a player from moving into more advanced areas when off the ball.
  • Restricted-dribbling central midfielder or central attacker.
  • Hold-up central midfielder or central attacker – would hinder a player from exploiting goal-scoring chances.