Position Specific Training

I think that much of our time as coaches is spent teaching all of the players the same thing. There is obviously a place for this at the younger ages when they just need to learn the basics. But in my opinion, as the player get to be 12 and 13 there is a place for position specific training.

Learning the roles and responsibilities of a particular position will allow the players to apply the technical skills that they’ve learned to the place on the field they will be playing. The options are different for a wide midfielder than they are for a center midfielder and the more comfortable we, as coaches, can make the players the more successful they will be. Success builds confidence and confidence is what allow players to be creative.

I’m not saying that some players should only train as outside backs or center mid’s or forwards. What I’m saying is that we should be teaching kids the differences in each position as earlier as they are able to understand them so that they will be equipped  to play whichever role is asked of them.

As players get into their high school years it becomes more apparent where their natural skills fit within a team concept and the positional training can be even more specific and in depth. Giving them a general idea before this can bring out strengths that we may never have seen in them before.

A book we have that will be release in the coming months is call, ‘The Coach’s Guide to Position Specific Training’.  It will provide a framework for teaching your players the roles and responsibilities of each position and how they fit together into a team shape. Here is an excerpt from the book:

Set up is a typical phase of play working with two full units through two thirds of the full field

Emphasis on Defensive Shape:
8 Blacks V 10 Yellows – normal game but working on black team and their defensive shape- starting from back four and working on relationship with two holding mids and an attacking mid/ central forward This Striker provides relief for Blacks if they win the ball. And attacks goal past halfway line with support wide form full backs and form central mids behind.


Coaching Points 
Defending Principles remain same from position specific sessions above:

  • Back Four- know line of engagement and when we must pressure.
  • Recognize opportunities to press and if pressure is on make sure we tuck and cover and remain very compact centrally- play around us not through us!
  • Recognize when not to press (outnumbered) and when to delay – this is when to funnel back and drop- midfielders then double down with back pressure to press both sides of the ball
  • No Ball In behind – Travel as ball travels
  • (can I intercept – if not be there on 1st touch to affect it and spoil it)
  • If I’m late to press or indecisive then hold position and shape

Set up
In final third play 6 attackers versus back four and either one or two holding mids. and the GK. Aim is to work on defensive mentality of not conceding at all costs – the drill is rapid fire in 3 minute segments with constant resupplying of attacking balls by the coach and encouragement of attackers to shoot on sight and score immediately- defenders try and press and block – challenge and tackle whilst under siege!


Session starts when coach plays ball in to one of 6 attacking players who try and score and create chances immediately- back four have to block and stop opposition and clear. As soon as one ball is dead without letting back four reset Coach will play next ball in and attackers attack again immediately. Coach plays ball wide – central- high and short to test defenders in all areas of the final third.

Coaching Points

  • Mentality of Defending – Recognize biggest danger –outnumbered?
  • Quick repositioning with each ball
  • Communication in back four vital
  • Decision making- who presses and covers –balance
  • Must be goal side – preferably ball side to intercept any quick passes for combination play
  • Establish correct distances within the lines and between the players

We can discuss the age at which position specific training begins to be important but we can all agree that it becomes an important part of training your team as the players mature.

Please share your thoughts on position specific training below. As intensive to start the discussion, I will give away a free eBook of ‘The Coach’s Guided to Position Specific Training’ to a randomly selected poster when the book is released.

Have a great day!




  1. ed says:

    Agree. Not only focusing on roles of positions also how the roles change in the 1/3 of the field. Combination play must be integrated as well. Finally can’t ignore transition as individuals and sets of individuals. I found SSGs worked really well for this training of players

  2. grant says:

    position specific training is spot on. Where we are we have multiple goalkeeping “academies” which is great but I have been saying for ever we should have fullback sessions, CB sessions, midfielder sessions and so on. Just because I am a “midfielder” doesn’t mean I shouldn’t know how a LB, CB for forward thinks. Great job here.

  3. grant says:

    There are an abundance of Goalkeeping Clinics, Academies etc where I live and coach and I have said for the longest time we should be doing more position specific training through our associations. As a goalkeeper I need to know how fullbacks, center backs, midfielders, forwards think to correctly direct them and each player on the field should be aware of how each position relates and what each positions responsibilities are. As soon as kids move to full field (even before) they should be at least made familiar with each position. Position specific training is a must in my opinion. As a coach I shouldn’t have to ask what position do you play, it should be I need you to play left back today and the response shouldn’t be “but I play in midfield” it should be “okay coach”. Good article.

  4. grant says:

    Sorry I doubled up my comments.

  5. jt says:

    This is an important concept that is too often overlooked or miscategorized as player and position specific training. Educating each player with how to manage the space of a specific position and how to understand the roles associated with each position as essential in player development. Well done.

  6. Bernard Le Jour says:

    What is mostly missing when doing that kind of functional training is the intensity. I think both SSG fill that need, especially the second one.

    Great stuff!