Positional Coaching - Half Back

Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Martin Mattner
Sydney Swans Football Club

Position Description & Roles:

Role of Position in the Team Structure:

  1. To defend and provide defensive pressure to the opposition, and opponent.
  2. Play on the higher half forward or midfield type half forward.
  3. When in possession of the ball provide run and options to move ball out of Defensive 50m (D50m) into Forward 50m (F50m).

Key relationships to other positions in the team:

  1. Talking to midfielders/wings if opponent goes into midfield or at D50 stoppages.
  2. Getting matchups right with other defenders.

Main player responsibilities for the position:

  1. Defend against opponent, help others and defenders by spoiling, covering dangerous space and covering dangerous forwards.
  2. Provide attacking options by kick and handball.

Expectations/Role of the position in relation to specialised situations (specific set plays, I50, Stoppages, etc).

  1. Team kick-ins position if opponents are zone or play man on man.
  2. Stoppages: D50 & midfield being goal side or covering dangerous space of forward/opponent.
  3. Opposition kick-ins zone or man on man.

Player characteristics required to play the position successfully

  1. Player has to have a great combination of all aspects of the game. Great fitness, speed & strength.
  2. An ability to read the play is a great asset in playing the position.
Coaching the Position:

Key points to get across to players:


  • Bodywork - early and initiate contact
  • Positioning cutting off the lead, contesting the highball and combating the crumb


  • Provide option either by kick or HB receives 

Specific training for the position:

  • One on one contested marking and leading options
  • Spoiling/Bodywork and positioning
  • General kicking/marking/handballing

Specific pre-match preparation (opposition scouting etc)

Watch Video:

  • Opponents and likely match ups
  • Kick in & zones
  • Opposition F50 stoppages

Also going to team midfield & defenders meetings.

Key hints to becoming a better player in the position:

Defend first, beat opponent and then provide attacking option. Keep working to improve on weaknesses.

This article was written in 2012 as part of the requirements for the AFL Level 2 coaching course

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