Role of Holding Midfielder
The holding midfield player has numerous responsibilities. Physical speed is not considered a
major factor for players in this position (although it never hurts) as this is, really, a sweeper in
front of the back players with little need to make long searching runs.
Defensive midfielders vary in size from the diminutive Deschamps of the 1998 French World
Cup Champions to his fellow countryman Viera who, at 6’4” is a giant of a player. A low center of gravity, helps as this player, generally, does a lot of tackling.
Mentally, a thorough awareness of player movement, especially on the weak side of the field
and anticipation of when a pass is about to be made by an opposing player are excellent
psychological qualities. Continual swiveling of the head is a characteristic of good holding
Some of the tasks of the holding midfielder are as follows;
• Slowing down counter attacks
• Picking up, what is commonly called, the “shadow center forward” who plays behind the
lead or target center forward.
• Falling back into the back line if a player goes forward or “rotates” into the midfield
which commonly happens to outside backs in a 4-3-3.
• Screens the center backs and picks off passes meant for center forwards. The holding
midfield player is in an ideal position to double team a center forward who is being held
up by a back line player.
• Receiving ball from back players and relaying the ball to the forwards or other attacking
• Being in a position to receive the ball from back line players whio are under pressure and
need a simple passing option.
• Available to change the point of attack. This is helped by virtue of the fact that the
holding player generally plays behind the other midfielders.
• Starts counter attacks with long passes or runs ball forward (only if another midfielder
• Holds in a central position to allow outside backs to go forward.
* 7 red vs. 7 blue + 1 neutral player; 2 neutral GK’s
* The +1 is the holding midfield player in yellow
* Space - 75 x 40 yds.
* Objective - for a team to hit the ball in the air so the GK can catch it
* The #4 player helps whichever team is in possession to keep ball, but cannot
Defending The Counter Attack
* 4 neutral, unopposed midfield players in the middle who attack in both
* 2 center backs & a holding midfield player vs. two forwards at either
end of the field
* Space - 75 x 80 yds.
* Midfielders receive ball from #1 (square) and attack the “circle” team. Form a containing triangle and drop back to top of penalty box. When shot is taken or interception made, ball is played to midfield unit who turn and attack in opposite direction.