How to Become a Great Outside-Back
If you're interested in becoming the game's next greatest outside-back, a player that can shutdown opposition attackers, get involved in the attack with blistering runs and 1v1 actions in the final-third, then there are some very tangible things you can focus on to achieve your goals.
Football isn't for the feint of heart, and staying focused and dedicated to the sport is the most important place to start.
Let's take a look at some of the key traits needed to play outside-back.
Develop Your Fitness and Speed Over Distance
If you're going to be playing one of the outside back positions, the no. 2 or no. 3 role, then you've got to develop a strong fitness level and work on your sprinting speeds over short and long distances to keep up with and blow by the opposition.
It's not easy to build match fitness, it takes time on the training ground, and more importantly, multiple games to discover the prerequisite conditioning needed to compete at the highest level.
If you want to be able to get up and down the pitch with pace, you've got to develop your overall fitness so you can barrel along the outside channels like Arsenal's Hector Bellerin:
Enhance Your 1v1 Skills
Modern outside-backs are very good at taking opponents on 1v1 in the outside channels, so it's critical that you start developing your comfort level with the ball at your feet and learn to keep your dribble in tight spaces and at high speeds. That's why it's imperative that in addition to developing your fitness and speed, you dedicated lots of training time to ball-mastery and improving your overall technicality.
Once you're comfortable with the ball at your feet, you'll be able to take players on 1v1 like Bayern Munich's David Alaba:
Cultivate Quality Service
The best outside-backs are the ones most capable of delivering quality service in the final-third, and becoming a player that can provide end-product has to be top of your list if you have your heart set on playing as an outside-back.
Make sure you're devoting plenty of time to your ball-striking, becoming comfortable hitting the ball with different spins, heights, and velocity to pick out your teammates in the penalty area.
Here is one of the best crossers of ball ever to play the outside-back role, Dani Alves, a man who had a telekinetic connection with his teammates:
Become a Lethal Finisher
Nowadays, it's not enough just to be a solid defender who can mark touch-tight and keep the opponents at bay, you've got to hone your skills inside the penalty area so that you can convert the goal scoring chances that come your way.
Becoming a lethal finisher might not appear to be a high priority for your development as an outside-back, but adding an attacking dimension to your personal player profile will go a long way to helping you take your game to the next level.
So make sure you're putting in enough time on the pitch practicing different finishes, with different touch-restrictions, first-time, two-touch, shooting from different angles, back to goal, just on the edge of the area, etc.