Positional Coaching - Full Back

Thursday, July 10, 2014

By Kris Pendlebury
Balwyn Tigers Football Club

Full back has traditionally been a purely defensive role, with the aim of stopping the full forward from getting the ball and scoring. As the game has evolved and become quicker the full back often starts the chain of possession up the ground.

The defensive aspect of the position remains important with the ability to accelerate and change direction quickly. Spoiling the ball is also of utmost importance. The full back is often the player that kicks the ball back into play after a point has been kicked.

Key Relationships to Other Positions:

The full back is a key component of the whole backline, the back line must be a tight group, and take the approach that they are a team within a team.

Main Responsibilities for Position:

  • Preventing the forward from scoring and gaining possession
  • Spoiling
  • Marking
  • Kicking in after a point is scored

Expectations/Roles in Special Situations:

  1. General Play man on man
  2. Inside 50 man on man
  3. Defensive 50 stoppages man on man

Player Characteristics Required:

  • Aggressive
  • Defensive mindset
  • Quick
  • Strong in 1 on 1 contest
  • Good disposal 
Coaching the Full Back Position:

Key points to get across to players:

  • Its a vital position in the makeup of a team
  • Defensive mindset is a must
  • Strong emphasis on beating your opponent 

Specific Training for Position:

  • Marking Practice
  • Spoiling
  • Ground Balls
  • Power Training (for acceleration off the mark)
  • Kick-ins

Specific Preparation:

  • Knowledge of the likely opponent - is the forward a leading player or an isolation, one out type?
  • What are the forward's leading patterns?
  • What foot does the forward generally kick with?
  • What are their major strengths & weaknesses as a forward?

Key Hints to Being a Good Full Back:

  • Having great body strength for one on one contests
  • Aggressive mindset in contested situations
  • Willing to take the game on, making the forward accountable
  • Strong hands when marking and spoling
  • Ability to read the play and be creative
  • Gain possessions and look for attacking opportunities 

Specific Drills for Full Back Development:

  1. 1 on 1 contested marking
  2. 1 on 1 contests (defender decides to spoil or mark)
  3. 2 defenders v 1 forward contested work
  4. Reading the play, developing third man across skills
Breakaway Defender Drill:

Ages Senior, U/16, U/14

Skills Required Kicking, Marking, Handballing 

Purpose of Drill:

There are times when it is appropriate to grant defenders the freedom to run off their opponent to provide an attacking option up field, although in a game situation, there must be some cover for the opponents left behind. This drill teaches defenders to run the lines to become a loose option, and requires accurate finishing after hard running.


Pairs form at situation (A) & (E). Singles line up behind six cones in the centre, facing the wing.

  1. (A1) starts with the footy with partner (A2) in the goal square. (A2) breaks towards the pocket and (A1) kicks short to them.
  2. (A2) covers some ground before kicking it to (B) leading from the centre. (C) gets front and square to (B), (D) covers the back
  3. (B) marks and both (C) & (D) share the footy if possible with handball.
  4. Meanwhile, both (A1) & (A2) have put themselves in the contest by sprinting upfield after their kick.
  5. (C) & (D) handball upfield to whoever is in the best position of (A1) & (A2), and this player steadies before kicking to a leading (E1).
  6. (E1) backpedals after marking or taking control of the footy, the drill now repeats up the other side of the ground following a break by (E2) to the opposite pocket.
    • (As) join station (E)
    • (B), (C), (D) rotate through the different station.
  7. After 7 minutes, rotate (As) with left (B, C, D) and (Es) with right (B, C, D).

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