Right Back Soccer Position Explained

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

How do you play as a right back in soccer? The right back is a wide defensive position that makes up part of the back line, however, in modern football right backs need to do more than just defend and they have to contribute to the attack.

The right back plays a pivotal role in marking the opposition wingers, providing width for the team, and they must have effective communication skills since their position allows them to see the rest of the team and field from a great angle.

In this blog we will be going over the importance of the right back position including its main roles, attributes needed, the different types of right backs, as well as give you a list of world class right backs to analyze and learn from.

Right back soccer Image by Eduardo Busti

The Pivotal Role of the Right Back Position

The right back is a very important position that has a ton of roles and responsibilities. Here’s how the right back position contributes to the team’s performance:

Mark the opposition wingers

One of the right back’s main jobs is to mark opposition wingers closely, stopping their threatening attacks, and preventing them from exploiting the width of the field. By doing so, they help maintain the defensive shape and limit the opponent’s attacking options.

Although full backs mainly mark the opposing wingers they are also responsible for guarding other opposing forwards as well as providing vertical support, all throughout the right flank of the field, and horizontal support for the rest of the back line, especially the central defenders, or center backs.

Defend and Attack the Width of the Field

A versatile right back is excellent at defending the width of the field during defensive phases while seamlessly transitioning into the attacking phase once their team wins possession of the ball. This ability to contribute both defensively and offensively adds an extra dimension to the team’s gameplay and makes the right back a dangerous attacking player, not just a defensive one.

Communicate with the Rest of the Team

Effective communication is crucial for the right back to coordinate with teammates, organize the defensive line, and execute tactical maneuvers. The right back’s position, in the defensive third and in the width, allows them to have a clear view of the entire field which makes these positions crucial for communication and organizing the team.

Make Different Types of Runs

As a right back it is not enough to just run up and down the sideline of the field. Right backs have to utilize overlapping runs, underlapping runs, and diagonal runs to create space and provide passing options for their teammates without being too easy to mark.

If a right back only makes straight runs it will be easy for the opposing team to predict your runs and read you what you are going to do. Become unpredictable by using different types of runs.

Send Dangerous Crosses to the FInal Third

One of the primary attacking duties of the right back is to deliver accurate and dangerous crosses into the opponent’s penalty area, which is located in the final third of the field. By whipping in crosses from wide positions, they provide scoring opportunities for their teammates such as the wingers and strikers.

Since right backs are already used to sending in dangerous crosses they are usually the players in charge of taking dead ball situations, such as free kicks and corner kicks, although of course that is not always the case.

Right back soccer Image by Pixabay

Key Skills and Attributes of Elite Right Backs

An elite right back is a very well rounded player that has high level defensive and attacking skills. Now that you are familiar with the roles and responsibilities of the right back, let’s discuss the main attributes needed to succeed at this position.

Technical Skills

An elite right back showcases exceptional ball control, dribbling skills, and passing ability. They are comfortable receiving and distributing the ball under pressure, contributing to their team’s possession-based style of play. The right back’s role in maintaining possession of the ball is very important as they provide width for the team.

Defensive Skills

Since right backs make up a crucial part of the last line of defense, they must possess exceptional defensive skills to provide support for the goalkeeper and other defenders. Defensive skills include being able to stop wingers in one-on-one situations, making good tackles, intercepting passes, and having a great heading ability.

Dribbling Skills

The ability to dribble past opponents and initiate attacking moves from deep positions is a great skill for right backs to have. Their dribbling skills allow them to navigate through congested areas of the field and create space for themselves and their teammates.

Many times during a game the right back can act more like a right winger, depending on the team’s tactics and formation, which is why elite dribbling skills are crucial.

Speed and Stamina

Although it is not a mandatory requirement, being fast is a key component to have as a right back, especially since you will be going up against the opposing wingers who are usually the fastest players on their teams.

Speed allows right backs to cover ground quickly, track back defensively, support attacking plays, and start a quick counter attack. While being fast is very important, having stamina is just as important so that you can show off your speed the entire game, anot not just perform a few sprints and get tired.

Positional awareness

Finally, strong positional awareness and tactical awareness are vital for a right back to excel in both defensive and attacking phases of the game. Right backs need the correct positioning to have a strong sense of when to push forward to support the attack and when to hold their position to provide defensive cover.

Along with positional awareness comes decision making, because as a right back you need to make the correct decisions when it comes to pressing, dropping, or knowing where you have to be in relation to the ball and the rest of your team.

Having the correct positioning and communicating with the other defenders effectively, is a great way to catch the opposing attacking players with the offside trap.

Right back soccer Image by Source

World Class Right backs

Now that you understand what the key responsibilities and key skills of a right back are, it is important to discuss some of the best right backs in recent seasons to analyze and learn from.

  • Kyle Walker- Manchester City
  • Trent Alexander Arnold- Liverpool FC
  • Dani Carvajal- Real Madrid
  • Achraf Hakimi- PSG
  • Reece James- Chelsea
  • Kieran Trippier- Newcastle United FC
  • Joao Cancelo- Manchester City

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality.

How should a right back play in the modern game?

In the modern game, a right back must be able to defend the width of the field, be a wide passing option for the team, and provide danger in the attacking third of the field, mainly by dribbling through players and sending in dangerous crosses.

What is the difference between right backs and right wing backs?

The primary difference between right backs and right wing backs lies in their tactical roles and positional responsibilities. A soccer right back typically operates as a traditional defender within a four-man defensive line, focusing on marking opposition wingers, providing defensive cover, and occasionally joining attacks from deep positions.

On the other hand, a right wing back operates in a more advanced role, often as part of a back-three formation or in a wing-back system, where they are expected to contribute significantly to both defensive and attacking phases of play. Wing backs can be considered more attacking full backs.

Who is the best right back in the Premier League, the Champions League, and the World Cup?

Trent Alexander Arnold, an England International player, is widely regarded as the current best right back in the Premier League.

In the Champions league, Trent is also considered one of the best right backs along with Dani Carvajal, Joao Cancelo and Kieran Trippier.

During the most recent World Cup, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Achraf Hakimi from Morocco was considered the best right back.

What is the last line of defense?

The back line, or defensive line, is the last line of defense made up of the wide full back positions, the right and left back, as well as the more central position the center backs.

Conclusion

In conclusion, in the modern game, a right back has both attacking and defensive responsibilities. Most teams will play with either a traditional full back or a wing back, who is a bit more attacking and is in between a traditional full back and a winger.

In this article I explained the importance of the right back position, which makes up one half of the full backs, as well as key skills needed to succeed in this position, and I ended it by sharing with you a list of the best right backs to learn from today.

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