What is a fullback in Soccer?

what is a fullback in soccer

Soccer is one of the most esteemed sports known to not only entreat viewers but also has its place in history dating as far back as the 1860s. What is more, there isn’t just soccer and players, there is soccer and regulations.

The most common of which is the formation which determines the placement of players in positions that enhance a team’s advantage against its opponent. One too infamous position is the fullback position. A team of soccer players comprises 11 members, all with the inclusion of the fullback. Who is a fullback?

A Fullback is a defender on a soccer team positioned beside the touchline of the field, primarily preventing the opposition from creating a goal-scoring opportunity. However, a fullback is also responsible for supporting a team’s offensive players.

What makes the fullback a different property of a team is the roles and responsibilities performed distinctly from the other team members, especially the wingback position having just about a similar to a confusing feature in function. Why is it called a fullback in soccer? What are the roles and responsibilities as well as the difference(s) in relation to the wingback?

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Why Is It Called Fullback in Soccer?

The word ‘fullback’ in soccer originated from the period in soccer history where players in this position start a game as the primary defenders of their team. The position is called fullback because these players are stationed further back than any other player on a team.

After the invention of soccer, many teams deployed the 2-3-5 formation. The formation conditioned two players at the back of the team and because of their placement, the name was given. They were “fully back.”

Originally, the fullback position in the late 1800s was 2-3-5 formation, but as time progressed, the soccer formations developed and evolved from these earlier forms, gradually pushing the fullback out toward the sidelines of a soccer field.

The Position of a Fullback

As the game continues to evolve, soccer games start with a fullback on either the left or the right side of the defensive line. A team is to have two fullbacks and they are positioned on either side of the defensive line. The role of a fullback is to protect the sides of the field from the opposition team’s attackers.

Guarding their region on the field enables them to fend off a goal, and block the ball from entering the penalty area from the touchline via a cross, pass, or shot.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Fullback

Like other characteristics of a soccer team, every team member is saddled with functions geared towards defeating the opponent.

The main responsibilities of a fullback amongst others are as follows:

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Defending The Goal Area

The defensive role is fundamental in making the fullback a key player in any soccer team. One common tactic used in garnering the ball from an opponent is attacking. Their position ensures that have a thorough view of the whole field and enhances their efforts to track opposition wingers and attackers as make way to wreak havoc on the opposition defense.

Fullbacks keep their opponents out of the penalty area and 6-yard box by using defense and skillful tackling dives. Mastering the slide tackle is key as last-ditch ones can be done to save goalbound attempts. Fullbacks are responsible for intercepting crosses and restricting spaces inside the box against the opposition players.

Effective usage of the ball

The crucial role of ball possession, which is the ability to keep the ball out of the reach of the opponent is an essential function of the fullback. A fullback should be fast and have excellent ball control skills. They enact one-touch passes with their teammates as well as have good dribbling skills to get the ball out wide. Their ability to effectively distribute the ball around the field allows their team more opportunities to score more goals.

A professional fullback possesses ball control at high speed. Calmness is also key for every fullback when the ball is on the ground. This ensures that the team maintains possession of the ball and sends it towards the opponent’s goal area, thus launching effective threats against the opposition.

Making notable contributions in attacking moves

As mentioned earlier, launching an attack is a potential chance of retrieving the ball from the opponent. Hence, another role of the fullback is to be a vital part of a team’s attack. Modern-day fullbacks are demanded to be good in making attacking runs and putting in decent crosses.

They are responsible for drawing their opposite number toward the side of the field and limiting the concentration of opponents in the center of the field. This action gives the midfielders and forwards more room to operate.

Fullbacks can help in creating good scoring chances while also providing strong cover at the rear, limiting the opposition’s ability to penetrate. The fullback’s awareness and focus can help the team’s attack at any point in the game. This is a pointer that the fullback position demands versatility and little wonder why it is considered one of the most important positions in soccer.

Communication With Teammates

Communicating with teammates has proven to be far more effective amongst team players. Another responsibility of a fullback is to always interact and be in constant touch with teammates.

Having excellent communication skills helps a team work together and react quickly to defensive situations and come out tops eventually. This ensures that the defense becomes more effective when needed even when they haven’t been under much pressure in a game.

Additionally, a fullback controls the space around them. While communicating with and coordinating their teammates, they ensure that the opposing team does not overrun them. A major key for team success is that there must be good communication between fullbacks and midfielders to improve the quality of the team’s attacking moves.

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Wingback vs Fullback in Soccer

The fullback and wingback positions in soccer appear very similar. The difference between both roles has to do with their positions on the field.

A wingback is more advanced on the sides of the pitch in comparison to a fullback. The former is designed to contribute more in attack while the fullback’s major priority is helping the defense.

The wingback is still a defender and you’d get to see the differences in a team that deploys a 3 at the back system versus a team that deploys a 4 at the back system. The wingback is very close to the midfield while the fullback is very close to the center-backs in defense.

Little wonder why you can see typical attacking wingers thrive in a wingback position but would be found majorly wanting if they are deployed as fullbacks. Regardless, a wingback and a fullback are expected to do their business near the sidelines and must maintain connections with the offensive players on the pitch.

Defensive Responsibilities

The defensive role of a wingback is to ensure that the opponent’s winger is tracked and crossing opportunities stifled. This means that a wingback moves up the field than the fullback who stays put in his/he designated position to support the defense. This is not the same as the role of the wingback which is to track the opposition’s winger.

However, the fullback is assigned with ensuring that the opposition’s crossing chances are limited to the barest minimum and also prevent them from dribbling towards the goal to score or create a chance for another player to convert. Regardless, you won’t find a typical fullback tracking an opposition winger far up the field.

Attacking Responsibilities

The fullback when involved in an attack plays the role of supporting the attackers from the rear of the field. The fullback should also be skilled in sending accurate crosses and moving the ball forward. The likes of Real Madrid’s Marcelo, David Alaba, Barcelona’s Jordi Alba, and the like do this with style and excellence.

For the wingback, his attacking responsibilities are bigger, and more is expected of him in the opposition half than the fullback. The wingback can be described as an inverted fullback because they make use of the width of the field and can also drift into central areas.

Meanwhile, the wingback position is more complex than the fullback and the latter is arguably the easier of the two. Both players in the aforementioned positions can see all areas of the pitch, can block crosses, and also help in chance creation for their teams. Regardless, pace and speed is an advantage for soccer players who are deployed in these respective positions.