3 Ways to Be a Good Defender in Soccer

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3 Ways to Be a Good Defender in Soccer
3 Ways to Be a Good Defender in Soccer

The most important task of a football defender is to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals, but a good defender is capable of doing much more: he passes information on to his teammates on the pitch; forces opponents to make mistakes that allow him to kick the ball away and eliminate the danger; helps the teammates making the necessary covers so they can find a space to score the goal, etc. As a summary of the work, a good defender needs to have a lot of technique, a focused mind and a great physical preparation.


Method 1 of 3: Improving Technique

Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 1

Step 1. Maximize defensive posture

A low body center of gravity is crucial for a defender. In this sense, bend your knees, steady your torso, and let your arms slightly away from your body so that you can get rid of your opponents' arms when they get close.

  • Keep your focus and keep your feet shoulder-width apart as this will improve your balance and help you have more room when blocking.
  • Don't look at the player you are tagging; look at the ball. When you're not close to the ball, visualize the field to know where the players are and anticipate any attempt by the opposing team to take advantage.
Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 2

Step 2. Mark both sides of the opposing player

When you're close to the ball, line up with the player who's scoring instead of going back and forth. Defending only one side will allow the opponent to dribble the marker or pass the ball.

Ask your teammates for help if you're having trouble keeping up with the opposing player and you're afraid he'll pass you by. Try to delay him as long as possible until help arrives

Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 3

Step 3. Take advantage of your opponent's mistakes

A bad pass or an error in the pass allows a gap for the defender to intercept the ball. When marking a tighter opponent, be aware of the slightest mistake and press on him to increase his chances of getting muddled and losing control of the ball.

Pay attention to the small details and be prepared to act at any time when you notice that your opponent has messed up. Often, the defender will only have a second to intervene in the play, which can make a big difference at that moment and in the game itself

Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 4

Step 4. Study opposing players

Many football players have specific moves and behaviors that can indicate when they are going to kick or take off towards the goal. Research opponent teams and watch the latest matches to better predict player behavior.

  • Being able to anticipate the opponent's action and direction of movement is a valuable function in a defender, as they are ways of positioning yourself and preventing a play.
  • When watching the last matches of the opposing team, also pay attention to the individual defense strategies of the other team that complicated the life of the attackers. Such strategies can be included in your defensive repertoire and used when playing against the team in question.
Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 5

Step 5. Have good communication with your teammates

A defender has, by nature, the ability to see the entire field and see where all the players are positioned. He can, in this case, tell his teammates if there is any opponent trying to steal the ball or any free player to receive a pass.

  • Example: when there is no defender near a teammate of your team, say “this alone” so that he knows he can keep the ball a little longer.
  • Yell at defenders to keep them on their toes. When another defender is close to the ball, speak out loud about the situation around him so he can focus on the round. Example: Say “I'm in cover” if you are covering the back of another defender who is positioned to tackle the tackle.
  • When playing for a team with which you have no relationship, you will need to communicate more frequently to find out the preferences and intentions of your fellow defenders. Ask for the excess of information and never for the lack of it. Example: you can say “on foot” so that the teammate with the ball passes it to you on the foot, that is, without stretching it further. On the other hand, when that player – the one with the ball – knows his teammate's playing style, he probably already knows the right way to pass the ball.
Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 6

Step 6. Only take the ball away from the opponent when you manage to clear it

The cart is one of the most dangerous techniques in football, not only because the user can get hurt, but also because of the risk of committing a foul or injuring the other player. Only use the cart if you are absolutely sure you can cleanly regain possession.

  • When making the strike, move your leg as if you were going to pass, taking it to the side and towards the ball.
  • The best moment for the strike is the attacker's error (a wrong pass, an unbalanced move, etc.).
Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 7

Step 7. Head the ball correctly

The defensive head cut can be an important tool for a defender and can also free the team from a dangerous situation on goal. With proper technique, the defender will be able to head the ball correctly and safely, even though there is a slight risk of a concussion or some other injury.

  • Keep an eye on the ball at all times when it is in the air and head it with your forehead. Heading it over will make it go down; heading it from the bottom will make it go up.
  • Many novice players tend to close their eyes when the ball approaches, mainly because of anxiety or fear that the ball will hurt their head at the time of contact. Make it a habit to keep them open all the time. In this case, heading drills will help you get rid of this anxiety and make you lose the fear of heading the ball.

Method 2 of 3: Preparing the body

Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 8

Step 1. Adapt the workout to your position

The different positions in defense require specific conditioning, as the player needs to respond better to the pressure that will be exerted on the body during the match. When playing as central defender, try to train endurance and stability; in case you are a full-back, focus on speed and mobility training, as they will be necessary skills to mark the opposing team's wingers (who are usually fast and skillful).

  • When you're out of the regular season, schedule two or three days a week for endurance training, as well as two or three days of cardio (aerobic exercises). In addition, you can also set aside a day to train only for speed and physical power, using HIIT Training (High-Intensity Interval Training).
  • When in the regular season, decrease your training intensity to reflect the amount of time you are on the field. Example: if off-season training lasted two hours, reduce this time to one hour when in season. Additionally, and even in season, a day or two of resistance training may be enough.
Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 9

Step 2. Combine sprints and long-distance runs

The long-distance ones improve cardiovascular endurance, an essential factor for the player to be able to remain on the field during the 90 minutes of a traditional match. However, that same player must be able to run at high speed to be able to keep up with faster strikers, midfielders and wings.

Running at intervals is an interesting way to simulate the way you run during a football match. Example: trot for ten minutes, run for two minutes, and walk for three minutes. Repeat this sequence until you are able to run for an hour

Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 10

Step 3. Strengthen the core to improve balance

Working your core muscles isn't just about having a six pack abs like your favorite football player: a strong core improves balance and makes life difficult for the attacker when he tries to get past the defender and shoot towards the goal.

  • Include the plank exercise in your workout routine. Start by holding yourself in the plank position for 30 to 60 seconds and add a minute every two or three days until you get five minutes in that position.
  • Try to do other core exercises that work multiple abdominal muscles in isolation. Some types, such as yoga and pilates, can help strengthen your abdomen muscles, improving balance and flexibility. Reminder: It's important to exercise all these muscles evenly.
Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 11

Step 4. Use plyometric exercises to build strength and endurance

These specific exercises create fast-twitch muscle fibers in the body that provide the burst of force to propel the sudden bursts of speed that are necessary for the defender to keep up with an attacker's stride, or midfield, faster.

Jumping push-ups are a great plyometric exercise for defenders. Start in a normal push-up position and lower your chest to the floor. Then push yourself up hard so that your hands jump off the ground, and go down gently by bending your elbows to help absorb the impact. Do four sessions of five to ten repetitions, taking a break between sessions

Method 3 of 3: Developing Mental Ability

Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 12

Step 1. Gain some attacking experience

Not all defensive players will have the ability to play up front, but if you get the chance, take it. Playing earlier can give the defender a better idea of ​​the attackers' intentions, as he can better anticipate the opponent's offensive plays.

If you can't go on the attack, the best option is to talk to your team's midfielders or strikers, as they will be able to show how they see the paths on the field and how they create scoring opportunities. In that sense, knowing these details will make you a better defender

Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 13

Step 2. Be confident and forget about fear

When the opponent realizes that you are afraid to fight, he will easily dodge you. It's hard to become a real defender when you're afraid to face and take the ball from a stronger opponent.

Don't be afraid to commit a foul. Even if he doesn't want to foul another player, the defender wants the opposing team to see him as someone who will do anything to stop any attacker from breaking through the defense and trying to score the goal

Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 14

Step 3. Stay calm and let the opponent miss

A patient defender is worth gold. It's intimidating to run towards all the players who have the ball and face them, but it's not the smartest decision as the chances of a lot of fouls happening are high.

  • Stay tuned and face the attacker using as much of your body extension as possible. Always be alert and prepared to go after the ball at any time, but avoid making very strong strikes or intimidating the attacker directly.
  • When you're ready to tackle, wait patiently for the attacker to make the move, press him and lunge when you feel any weakness in the play or realize that the attacker has made a mistake, however small.
Be a Good Soccer Defender Step 15

Step 4. Practice good sportsmanship

When the defender defends aggressively, he can easily lose control by cultivating this mindset. Remember that referees and the opposing team are also people. Show common sense and sportsmanship by helping an opponent to get up if he lands on the lawn.

Avoid arguing or contesting the referees, even if they have made a mistake. Forget the fact and focus on the game


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