Playing out the Back in a 4-3-3

By Sean Pearson


Playing out the back is the norm now, but also is high pressure, so what you have to be able to do if you still wish to play out from the back is have a plan in place depending on opposition player positions and roles. Here I look at different options you can use to combat the high pressure, remember after about 6 seconds the pressuring team will become tired and unorganized. If you can move the ball accurately and quickly enough away from the press you have a good chance of progressing up the field, they players must remain calm and composed in order to execute their passes.

As you can see below we start at a goal kick the CB’s are on the corner of the 18, the FBs higher and wider, the wide strikers on the edge of the half and the midfield 3 as high as possible. From this you can tell if the team are playing man marking in the middle or zonal. If it is man, their players will be touch tight to your midfield, if zonal they will probably be in the space.

Playing out the Back in a 4-3-3

If the striker blocks off the pass to the other CB simply bounce the ball back t the GK calmly and the GK can play out the other side. If the CB is confronted with a winger who has come infield to help the press the FB should be open (1). Alternatively, the FB on the side of the ball can come infield and a pass into the space from the CB behind the pressing wide striker. This works well if the midfield is man marking then you can move away from the ball, as can your wide striker, to create more space for the FB (2).

If the central striker still presses but the wide striker begins to cheat to stop the ball going through the middle the FB should get higher than the WST, the CB then passes to the FB, further up if the opposite FB steps to the ball your WST creates an angle of support (1). The defensive midfielder (#6) starts high so there is space to run into and drops down to bounce the ball back to the CB. Then if the opposite FB blocks a straight pass up field the WST can come inside to offer support.

Here you have an option of the CB stepping forward with the ball if pressured from both sides. The #6 takes their position to maintain defensive balance. (1) the WST and AM read the trigger and drops down and in bringing the FB with them and releasing your FB. There is a combination and the FB is played in.

Alternatively, you could have the same outcome with the AM staying higher up the field (2).

There are many different ways to play out of the back and they all depend on the opposition positioning. Of course, you can manipulate their movement but you players must be confident and composed to carry it out. They also must be very technical as it is hard to maintain speed and accuracy whilst under pressure.

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

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