Get Some Paint On Your Boots!

As your team wraps up training for the day, everyone knows what’s coming: scrimmage!  After teams are split up, players start clamoring for what position they’ll play.  You get placed as an outside midfielder, much to your chagrin.

You know that playing out wide means you have only half the options a central midfielder does- but that doesn’t mean you have to be less effective!  One of the best cues for wingers is the old shout, “Get some paint on your boots!”

"Is this what you mean, coach?"

We’re told from an early age that on defense, the name of the game is to compress play and make things tighter for the opposition.  On offense, the strategy is just the opposite.  Spread the play to create opportunities.  No player is better suited (nor more responsible) for creating width than a winger.

To be clear, I use the term ‘winger’ loosely.  While a winger used to be an outside midfielder in a 4-midfielder formation, now wingers can be outside forwards (Cristiano Ronaldo) or outside wing backs (Man City’s Zabaleta).  I’m referring to a player who resides in the flanks and attacks up the sidelines.

So what’s all the fuss about creating width for your team?  Consider the following scenarios where the winger has a choice of positioning either 10-15 yards off the sideline (narrow) or all the way out wide, literally touching the sidelines with his boots but still facing the field of play.

So it’s clear that a winger utilizing the full width of the pitch opens up play for his team.  But what happens when a defender picks up on this tactic and aggressively marks you out in the flank?

It’s simple, and quite truly, the beauty of wide positioning.  When you pull a defender out wide, you create space behind him that allows you to make a diagonal run straight to goal.


The next time you get ‘stuck’ playing out wide, don’t complain that you only get half the options of a central player.  By positioning yourself out wide, you’ll directly and indirectly create opportunities for yourself and your team.

So for the good of the game… Get some paint on your boots!