For a soccer team to be successful, every player in the team needs to be playing at their very best. However, as with any sport, some players are better than others. So, where do you put the weakest soccer player? What position should they play?
The worst soccer player usually plays in the fullback position. This is because the fullbacks impact the game less than other positions. Fullbacks also have fewer responsibilities and pressure on them during a game.
Now you know the weakest player usually plays at fullback, but why exactly is it? And are there other positions weaker players can play in? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this article.
If you're a soccer coach, there's a good chance you've had the dilemma of where to position your weakest player.
Of course, you want to involve them in the game somehow. If you were to leave your weakest player on the bench every week, they would simply never improve.
But where should you position your weakest player without it having too much of a negative impact on the team's overall performance?
First and foremost, the specific weaknesses of the worst player should factor heavily in this decision. As should the style of play and the formation that the team uses.
For example, the goalkeeper position is considered the hardest position in soccer. However, if your weakest player's main difficulty is running, it might be worth considering putting them in goal.
This is because the goalkeeper is the soccer position that runs the least.
Generally speaking, the ideal position for the weakest player is the fullback. This way, the weaker player should have less impact on the game while still getting to play.
However, if the team's playing style utilizes fullbacks more than normal, this would not be a good position for the weaker player.
For the purpose of this article, though, we will assume the team does not utilize fullbacks in this way as this is quite rare.
With this in mind, I will now explain exactly why the weakest player should play in one of the fullback positions.
There are many reasons why the weakest players are usually fullbacks. The most obvious reason is that the fullback position is considered the easiest soccer position to play.
Fullbacks are not necessarily bad players, but I will now list the reasons why the weakest player usually plays in this position.
A fullback is one of the positions with the least involvement during a soccer game. For this reason, it is a good idea for the weakest player to have this role.
When looking at a fullback's position on the field, they are basically just wide defenders.
You may think that defenders are heavily involved during a game, and you would be correct. However, it's usually the center backs who see more of the ball in the defensive half of the field.
Fullbacks are not expected to touch the ball as much as center backs. They also touch the ball less than midfield players as well.
The reason is simple: most ball possession in a soccer game is played through the middle of the field. This is not an area that fullbacks need to occupy.
Research shows that over 55% of an average team's possession is played through the center of the field. The remaining percentage is split on either side of the field, with less than 20% being played down either wing.
As you probably already know, there are two fullbacks in a team. One is positioned on either side of the field.
This means that the weakest player only needs to see an average of 20% of the play in their area of the field.
Depending on the fitness levels of the weakest player, a coach might sometimes be tempted to play them as a goalkeeper.
This would actually be a huge risk as the goalkeeper has more responsibilities and pressure than any other position in the team. Besides, the goalkeeper is a very specific position.
It makes more sense to position the weakest player in a spot with the least responsibilities. This would be the fullback.
The main tasks in a soccer game are scoring goals and preventing them. While scoring goals is assigned to forward players, stopping goals is the main responsibility of center backs and the goalkeeper.
Midfielders also have a lot of pressure on them because they see more of the ball than any other position. Therefore, it is up to them to control the game.
Fullbacks have much fewer responsibilities and pressure compared to these other positions.
These are the main responsibilities of a fullback:
These responsibilities are undoubtedly still important during a game. However, they all involve helping other positions. A mistake on one of these tasks is unlikely to cost their team the game.
Fullbacks are not the last line of defense; they are not responsible for scoring or creating goals and are not expected to run the game completely.
Therefore, the weakest player is less of a hindrance when playing as a fullback.
When it comes to the defensive role of a fullback, they have no choice but to answer the call if needed. If an attacking player targets a particular fullback, they must rise to the challenge.
Having said that, a fullback can be almost completely ignored when their team has possession of the ball.
When a team is attacking, the fullback does not have to be involved in the build-up play if the coach doesn't feel they are good enough.
Sure, an attacking fullback can be a great weapon to have.
But suppose the coach chooses to play a weaker player as fullback. In that case, many other players can attack in better positions than a fullback.
A team can also choose to utilize the other fullback playing on the opposite side to the weakest player. This way, the team can still make use of the wide areas if they wish to.
A coach could also choose to play the weakest player in the fullback position, which would likely play opposite to the opposition's weakest attacking player.
To really show why the weakest player should play at fullback, it is good to compare the position to all the other players on the field.
Although being a goalkeeper involves less movement, there is much more pressure and risk to being in goal. A goalkeeper's mistake can easily cost their team the game and lead to major criticism.
Goalkeeping is also extremely difficult and requires a unique skill set. The goalkeeper is also the most dangerous position in soccer.
This is why it is not always a good idea to put the weakest soccer player in goal. Actually, this is only an option on an amateur level.
Like the goalkeeper, center backs have a lot of pressure on them compared to fullbacks. If a fullback makes a mistake, the center back is usually in place to clean up any errors.
A center back has to make more important tackles than fullbacks; therefore, it is best to play the weaker player at fullback rather than center back.
Whether we're talking about central, defensive, or attacking midfielders, they all have one thing in common; running.
According to a recent study, midfielders cover an average distance of 10,611 meters (11,604 yards) during a soccer game. This makes them the soccer position that runs the most.
Because of this, it would not be a good idea to play the weakest player in this position.
Midfielders also see much more of the ball than fullbacks do, meaning they are responsible for controlling much of the game.
Simply put, a soccer team needs goals to win. This is the main responsibility of all forward players.
Because it is so important to score goals, it would be a big risk for any coach to put the team's weakest player in a forward position.
It's also worth remembering that forwards don't get much time on the ball. This means that when they get a chance, they have to have a lot of skill and creativity to take advantage of the opportunity to score a goal.
As you can see, playing as a winger or striker (forward) would not be suitable for the team's weakest player.
To summarize, a team will always benefit from their weakest player being in a position that impacts the game the least.
Due to not being the last line of defense and not being responsible for scoring goals, the fullback is the ideal position for the weakest player.
Of course, the unique strengths and weaknesses of the weakest player must be taken into account before making a decision, as well as the tactics preferred by a team.
However, generally speaking, the weakest player in the team plays in the fullback position.