Left backs in soccer: Let’s take a look at five or six things that every left back should work on if they want to play soccer at a high level. These are things that a left sided defender will do on a regular basis throughout a game. Essentially, these are the fundamental soccer skills and aspects of the game that every that every left back should perfect.
What’s maybe new for defenders in the modern game is to be able to serve long balls across the field to the other defender on the far side. Liverpool’s defenders do this on a regular basis. So instead of swinging the ball from one side to the other through the midfield, the backs will whip a long ball to their teammate on the other side. It’s common to see Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson of Liverpool to switch the ball perfectly to one another during a game.
Oh, and the two also get in the attack and help their team score goals. Watch Trent and Robertson’s run of assists throughout the 2018-19 campaign as they combined for 23 goals in a record-breaking effort for a defender in the Premier League.
For a left back, of course you’ll need to work on crossing the ball with your left foot, both bending balls in the air and then on the ground, and both to the near post and the back post. Ideally, you want to pick a player out, try to serve the ball in to a certain player. However, there will be times when you’re under pressure and might just need to whip the ball into the near or far post. Send in at least ten balls to the near and far post, so 20 crosses total.
Right now, two of the best left backs in world soccer are Jordi Alba of Barcelona and Andrew Robertson of Liverpool. Two left backs to model your game after. Both players get in the attack and know how to defend.
Also, work on cutting inside with your right foot to take a shot. Surprise your opponent by faking like you’re going to cross the ball with your left and then cut the ball inside and try to bend the ball into the far post with your right foot. Practice this ten times, dribbling hard down the line and bringing your left foot back like you’re going to cross it, and cut inside to shot with your right foot. Try doing this near the goal box, and not too far down the line, but so you have a better angle or window frame to shoot into at the far post.
Work on distributing the ball out of the back with your left foot to a forward posting up or checking back to receive the ball – roughly twenty or thirty yards away. Practicing driving the ball into the forwards feet, chest or head. Again, always hit a moving ball, so have someone pass you the ball or just kick the ball ahead to yourself before you hit the ball. Imagine you’re receiving the ball from the keeper or another defender out of the back. Send in ten balls on the ground, driven balls, and then ten in the air. If you don’t have a partner then practice this against a wall. Do this at least ten times.
Work on receiving the ball and opening up to carry the ball down the line. Try playing the ball against a wall and then turning with the ball to face up field. Think about where you would play the ball and how you’d turn your body so the ball is on your left foot and you’re ready to make a pass or serve the ball long or into the feet of a teammate. The key is to get the ball out in front of you so you can get your head up and make the pass right away. If you take too many touches you’ll be closed down. The goal of the forward who’s pressuring you is to get your head down and make you go backwards.
Practice winning the ball in the air. On defense you want to head the ball not down, but in the air so your teammates have time to recover and read the play. You only head the ball down if you’re making a pass to a teammate. If you head the ball down you could play it right to an attacking player who could get a shot on goal. How many times have you seen a defender head the ball down and right to an attacker at the top of the box? Too many. With a partner, have them throw the ball to you in the air so you have to jump. Do this ten times.
Coerver Ball Work
It’s always good to get in some ball work, so some dribbling work, turns, cuts, moves and then some juggling. Spend some time working on your weaker foot as well. There’s nothing better than some Coerver Coaching footwork drills.
Emulate a Great Player
What left back do you look up to and admire in world soccer? Whose style of play would you like to emulate? Spend time watching this player, it’s easy to punch their name in and see highlight clips of their play on YouTube. Left Backs: Partice Evra of Manchester United; Ashley Cole of Chelsea.
Extra: For all soccer players, develop a few favored moves, shots, passes, crosses, and skills. Perfect those two or three skills. Make them yours. This could be a step over, bending the ball, a powerful shot, develop some skills that set you apart from other players, no matter what position you play.
Check out these soccer training sessions for other positions: