Is  “Playing Out from the Back” emphasized too much in football?

I’m not saying it’s not important but is more attention given to playing out from the back, than play in other areas of the field?

Playing out can be quite difficult when opponents press high and quickly, but that doesn’t happen throughout a whole game very often, if at all. So most teams face the situation where they often have a numerical advantage over their opponents in their own half of the field. Teams choose between playing the ball up-field or playing through the opposition in their own half and into the opponents half, with the sole objective of getting to the final third where the vast majority of goals are scored.

As teams get better at using their numerical advantage they get better at making progress with the ball into the middle third and into the opponents half, where it becomes even harder to keep possession and make progress.

But how often do we hear about teams “playing out from the back” compared with “playing through the midfield” or the “minefield” as I like to call it?

More importantly how often do you practice playing through the midfield, in the correct area of the pitch with twenty players?  Be honest!!

I’m sure many will say they don’t get the chance to use a whole field all for themselves and most will say they don’t have twenty players to practice with, which are both fair comments.  My next question is, can you organize to train with another team of similar ability on the same pitch, so at some point in the session you can play against each other for a period of 20-30 minutes, so you can practice playing through midfield in realistic circumstances?  Improvement in getting through the “minefield” will result in more possessions in the final third, the vital area.

In the Confederations Cup Final between Brazil and Spain and in the European Cup Final between Bayern and Dortmund the success rate for each team in reaching the final third from possessions regained inside their own half of the pitch was around 30%.  A surprising figure considering the status of the teams involved.  What’s your success rate with your team?

Check out my App Football Practices and my website The Football Centre for practices and ideas for improving your success rate of playing out from the back AND playing through midfield.


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