Body profiles

The body orientation or body profile in football is the position or body positioning of a player in each game situation, both in attack and defence. It must be taken into account that the field of play is rectangular, with the two goals in the centre and that each player occupies a position that can be in the centre or on the wings and on the other side, there is the ball that moves from one side to the other. Each playing situation requires a body position and changes with the movement of the ball. The position of the body has a visibility of more or less 180º.

Characteristics of body orientation (or body profile of the footballer

  • – This is the positioning of the body with respect to its vertical axis, where the face, chest and the front of the body are facing, this is called being in profile, with a 180º vision.
  • – According to this position, his body can intervene in a better way in the game.
  • – If the player is not well oriented, the field of vision is considerably reduced and this reduces information about what is happening in the game and reduces the intervention options of the players. In addition, there may be a space that is not dominated, this is called ‘blind’ space.
  • It is important that we have a 180° field of vision, to be able to anticipate any game situation or resolve it.

Advantages of body orientation

  1. – Better control of the game situation, both in attack and defence and in transitions.
  2. – Better reaction and speed to solve the different situations generated by the game.

Disadvantages of poor body orientation

  • – The field of vision is reduced: this means that the player cannot observe what is behind him. When a player is not well oriented, on the one hand it reduces his visual field. It generates a deficit of information, eliminates many game options and can decide incorrectly because there is a space that the ‘blind’ side does not have mastered, there is information of the game situation that he does not know.
  • – Lack of reaction to different game situations.
  • – If the player is able to profile himself correctly in each action, he will be optimising his possibilities to intervene in the game or he will be multiplying his possibilities.
  • – Delays in receiving and passing.
  • – Poor orientation can slow down the reaction to certain game situations.

Attacking profile

To profile in attack is to position the body of the player who is going to receive the ball in such a way that he can see the passer of the ball and, if possible, the opponent’s goal or as much space as possible on the pitch, the opponent and teammates. Normally you can see about 180º, and a lateralised position is usually the most effective position, this is called profiling.

We know that the field is rectangular in shape, where the goals are (defensive and offensive) and that each player has a position on the field, we have to try to see where the opponent is, where the teammate passing the ball is and see where the teammates are to give continuity to the game.

It is important to place the body between the ball and the nearest opponent and that the opponent is as far away from the area where the ball is. This is usually the most correct position. Each player position requires a profile. Those who play in the centre should be more centred, those who play on the wing should have their back to the wing.

Options we have when we receive the ball with the opposing goal behind us:

  • – If you have your back to the opponent’s goal, feet parallel and you receive the ball with an opponent at your back it is best to play one touch to the passer of the ball or a teammate.
  • – If you have your back to the opponent’s goal, your feet parallel and you receive the ball without an opponent at your back, I can turn and continue playing the ball, for that I have had to see or have been warned by a teammate, that I am ‘alone’, that I don’t have an opponent close to me.
  • – If because of the difficulty of the pass you can’t do it with one touch, you control the ball, put your body between the ball and the opponent and pass it quickly to a team-mate who is facing you or unmarked.
  • – If you have a lot of quality and ability, you can control the ball and do the ‘roulette’, guide yourself on your own axis and face the opponent’s goal, leaving the opponent behind, for example, like Xavi Hernández does.
  • – It may happen that the ball is passed to me and there is no one close to me to return it, and I have to control and hold the ball, either to wait for help from teammates or to see if the opponent fouls me, I will protect the ball with my body and I will be in the middle of the ball and the opponent.
  • – If we are going to make a long pass or a change of direction into free space, the possible receiver of the ball must profile sideways, with one foot forward, to make a deep run.
  • – If you receive the ball with your back to the ball, the mistake you can make is to try to turn and the opponent who is on top of you takes the ball away from you, because you are not well profiled. In this situation, it is better to be in a lateral position so that I can see who is passing me the ball, see the opponent’s goal and see the opponents and team-mates and at the same time protect the ball with my body and be able to continue playing the ball.

Defence profiling

Defensive shaping is the body positioning of players when the other team has the ball.
The opposing player must face outwards when he is in possession of the ball. If the opponent receives the ball with his back to you, you have a frontal profile, you have to try to stop him turning, we have to time it so that in addition to the game not having continuity, we can receive help from teammates, so that the opponent has to look towards his goal.

In the event that the opponent manages to turn around (1×1 defensive situation) and face you, you have to change your front profile for a lateral one, one foot further forward, close his strong side and try to get him to come out on his non-dominant leg. I can also give him my strong side, where the defensive player feels safer, or try to take him to a place where there is less danger for the team, so he doesn’t go to a good area of their attack.

Initial position of the defender is sideways in front of the attacker, side profile and we lower the centre of gravity, we lower the legs. If he is right-handed we close his right side, his strong side, so that he carries the ball on his left side. We put our left leg closer to his right leg and our right leg we put it back. And if he is left-handed, we close the left side, we place our right leg closer to his left leg and our left leg behind him. We never press from the front, always from the side, we take him to the side and never with our legs open to the ball holder, because he can dribble us on the left, on the right or even make a ‘caño’ and pass the ball under our legs.

  • If I am in the centre, we take it to one side of the field, towards a side. We bend our legs to lower the centre of gravity. The feet must be on tiptoe to be able to balance the body and to be able to react quickly to any movement of the opponent.
  • If the opponent is going to make a long pass or a change of direction to a free space or our back (especially to the back of the defence), I must be sideways to the side looking at the passer of the ball and our own goal ready to run towards our goal, when the opponent ‘arms the leg’ to hit the ball we run sideways towards our goal to get to the ball before the opponent.

If the opponent is going to make a lateral cross from the wing, the defenders must be oriented in such a way that they can see the player who is crossing and the possible receivers of the ball, with their backs facing the door and their feet placed at 120º, one facing the ball holder and the other more or less 120º, so that I can see the opponent who enters from the front or see if he can enter behind my back.

The most common mistake is to be looking at the player centring the ball, with your feet parallel, your back facing the stands, with no possibility of seeing who is coming in behind you. This is a very common case that allows the opponent to come in and take possession of the ball or shoot at goal.

It is very important that the player knows how to orientate himself in each game situation, dominates all profiles and knows how to modify them depending on the situation of the ball and the game situation.


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