Coaching the Coaches: Rehan Mirza on playing from the back

By Rehan Mirza, UEFA B licence and Coach, Centre of Excellence, Notts County FC.

As a coach in the UK, I have browsed footage of several high profile games based in Pakistan recently. Like any coach, I am always critical when watching footage and many times I ask the question whether players understand the game technically. Players should position themselves accordingly when the team is IN possession and when not.

The most important players on the pitch are defenders. Regardless of systems, the most common shape for a defence is to have 4 players at the back. This would consist of 2 centre backs and 2 full backs. It is vital that these 4 players work together and understand how to link play between their goalkeeper and midfield. I have highlighted some diagrams (courtesy of Martin Hunter, FA coach educator in the UK) that emphasise the basics of playing out from the back.



1. Defending shape.

2. Spread out (wide/open body)

3.Unopposed Coach (C) calls the number of passes to be made

Final pass into S                           Straight = Feet                  Diagonal = Air/Receive in Air

3.S1 passes into GK or passes to S2 or S3 to pass into GK

Key Areas

a) Quality of Pass  b) Urgency c) Speed d) In front

Drill 2.


X1 and X2 to:

1. Drop off (stop full backs)

2. Mark CBs

3. 3 v 4 introduce X3 S as for Drill 1

Key Areas

“Decisions” who breaks out centre-back

or full back?

Drill 3.


S as for Drills 1 and 2

Alter attacking shape to

5. 6
2. 4. 3
X. X. X

Key Areas: “Decisions” How/when to use the midfield player to ‘play out’

Drill 4.


(9 v 7)


Drop off

Key Areas

a) spreading out as a team

b) decisions of how/when to play from the back

It is to note that there can be variations on delivery from the goalkeeper but ultimately good teams are those that play from the back and have the confidence to do so. The above can further be developed but this would be a good tool for coaches to work with their back 4 on.

Rehan Mirza is a British-Pakistani football coach. He is a UEFA B licence coach at the Centre of Excellence of Notts County FC (Football League One) in England.

He is currently pursuing his UEFA A licence. He is a true Pakistani and has always helped the FPDC to provide help to local coaches.

He has studied the Pakistani Game and wants to help the coaches and players in Pakistan progress. This was the first part in his regular column on football coaching and tactics for Pakistani Coaches and Footballers at FootballPakistan.Com