How to hold off your marker

With a little help from your midfield, the Z Man explains how to cause chaos around the box

“I always seem to lose possession when I play with my back to goal. Do you have tips for holding the ball up?”
Charlie Porter, via email

More after the break

“Strength is key when holding off markers so it’s important to build upper body power in the gym. On the training ground, you need to work with your midfielders so you can build an understanding.

They should know when to give you the ball, how to play it into you and where they’re going to move to support you.

During a game you want to push your marker back as far as you can so you need to know where he is: if you can’t see him, make sure you can feel him.

There’s a fine line between the ref awarding a foul for them and a foul for you so you want to receive the ball in and around the box, because they’ll be worried about conceding a penalty or giving away a free-kick on the edge of the area.

Keep yourself between him and the ball. Get your midfielders high up the pitch so you can push the defenders back and receive the ball in dangerous areas.

It’s crucial that your midfielders make good runs, not only to receive the ball, but also to take the opposition’s midfielders away from you.”

Zamora has been an official Under Armour-sponsored ambassador for five years. Visit

Also see:
Character team building
Inside the mind of a striker
Bobby Zamora on recovery
Bobby Zamora: Tricks of the trade

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