In the old system of soccer, the midfield players were called halfbacks. For most of the game they acted as a link between the defenders (back four) and the advanced forwards.
Although in modern day soccer every player should give help offensively and defensively, there are three different types of midfield players.
Diagram 1 A. Defensively minded. B. A player capable of both. C. Offensively minded.
Three players who specialize in these categories are: A) Wim Jamsen, 1980 Diplomats, before moving to sweeper; B) David Bradford, Dips; C) Johan Cruyff, Dips.
The coach, after deciding on the best system he believes to be the best, then acquires his players. However, most coaches have to seek a system to suit the players he has available. Nevertheless, two, three or four midfielders will be used.
A saying often quoted is, "If you control the midfield, you will control the game." Creating more scoring chances increases your chances of winning the game.
The midfield tries to control the tempo of the game, slowing it when needed, building an attack with precise passing or sometimes creating an element of surprise with a quick diagonal or a through ball to the forwards. Certainly they need to be "thinkers."
The many types of passes should be learned and executed with accuracy, with the right amount of strength and timing. Once the pass is made, don't stand and admire it; move into the best position for the next play.
Controlling the ball, which can arrive at any angle, must be done quickly and efficiently. Don't trap into an opponent but away from him. Awkward balls may have to be passed first time as in Diagram 2.
Practices should include situations that require use of these skills. Good midfield players can stay composed and in control of the ball while under pressure. These players help spread confidence through the team.
A midfield player should have certain important abilities.
Vision -- He needs to know where his teammates are at all times, so that he knows what to do with the ball before he receives it.
Communication -- Constructive and not destructive.
Anticipation -- To make an interception through anticipation can lead to a smart outlet pass and thus a counterattack.
Tackling -- Winning possession with good strength and timing also can turn defense into attack. Although running with the ball is not recommended, a midfield player may receive the ball on an "overlap" in an attacking area of the field. In such a situation, running with it may be more successful.
Diagram 3. Offensively on corner kicks, two midfielders generally take up position on the 18-yard line to receive any loose balls coming out. Defensively, they mark the opposing midfield players.
Whatever type of midfield player you might want to be, you need to have all-around ability and work hard.
Correction: Part 16 (defenders) stated that because central defenders are expected to win the majority of head balls, weight should be an advantage. It should have read "height should be an advantage." The same installment of the series stated that on set plays such as goal kicks and free kicks in the opposing half, you should not hesitate to send defenders who are good in the air into the penalty area. the plays referred to should have been corner kicks and free kicks.