A wingback is a player who operates in the wide areas of the soccer field. They are typically in a defensive role but can move up in certain situations.
They play an important role in modern soccer acting as a hybrid between defense (mostly) and offense.
Wingbacks are usually used in the following soccer formations:
What’s the common theme in those formations? Teams will line up with three in the backfield!
Let’s dive into this position some more and what attributes make an elite wingback in youth and professional soccer.
What is the Role of a Wingback?
A wingback is a hybrid of a full-back and a midfielder. This player is typically tasked with defense but is also responsible for attacking at times.
Wingbacks are known for their speed, stamina, and ability to cover a lot of ground. They play an important role in both defense and attack, providing support to their teammates on both ends of the field.
In youth soccer, a strong and fast wingback is a valuable asset to a team.
They can lock up forwards and join counterattacks.
In terms of defensive duties, wingbacks are responsible for marking opposing players, intercepting passes, and making clean tackles.
They also help to defend against crosses and set-pieces, using their height and jumping ability to clear the ball.
What Skills Should Wingbacks Possess?
The three skills and attributes of a wingback can be grouped into three main categories: Defensive Responsibilities, Attacking Contributions, and Physical & Technical Traits.
One of the primary roles of a wingback is to provide defensive support to the team.
As such, they are responsible for defending against opposition attacks and preventing goals. Some of the defensive skills and attributes that they should possess include:
- Strong tackling ability
- Good positional awareness
- Quick reactions
- Excellent marking and tracking ability
- Decent communication skills
- Grit (I think this is the biggie)
Wingbacks usually have the freedom to push forward and create attacking opportunities for their team. Some of the attacking skills that they should possess include:
- Good crossing ability
- Excellent dribbling skills
- Strong passing ability
- Good vision and creativity
- High work rate
Physical and Technical Traits
Finally, they must possess a range of physical and technical traits that allow them to perform at their best on the field. Some of these traits include:
- Excellent speed and agility
- Good balance and coordination
- Strong endurance and stamina
- Good ball control and passing abilities
What Do Wingbacks Do On Offense?
Wingbacks should stay wide on the attacking side of the field.
An elite wingback should be able to operate (dribble and pass) along the sidelines. Sometimes, they’ll need to “tight rope” down the field.
Another key factor is to create space for their teammates to drop the ball into. Diagonal runs and overlapping with the Winger can make an impact on the game.
When the team loses possession of the ball, a wingback’s responsibility is to get back on defense and delay the counterattack.
As you can probably tell, a wingback needs a lot of hustle in their game!
This position requires players to have a high work rate, make hard but clean tackles, and have technical abilities.
They will be more involved on the defensive end but also contribute offensively in the second and final third.
If you are considering playing this position, consider some training specifically for wingbacks.
Best of luck in your journey to become a great wingback!
Not sure what position you want to play? Check out our article ‘Soccer Positions: The Ultimate Guide‘.