How to Defend in Soccer – A Soccer Player&039s Complete Guide To The Game

    all positions defend in games, but most coaches don’t teach players how to defend properly.

    Coaches often say things like “don’t stab” or “get in goal” during games, but these phrases are hardly a substitute for teaching players to defend.

    Reading: How to defend in soccer

    It’s not surprising that almost all beginners and some advanced players don’t know how to defend properly.

    This guide will teach you how to approach an attacker, the defensive stance, how to tackle correctly, and tips on how to defend effectively.

    the defense approach

    1. quickly move the player with the ball

    run towards the player with the ball.

    The faster you put pressure on the attacker, the faster they have to make a decision.

    High pressure often forces offensive mistakes. offensive players have less time to look up for a good pass and won’t be able to dribble as far down the field.

    2. slow down quickly

    Rookie defenders apply a lot of pressure, but are easy to beat. they rush towards the ball, making it easy for good players to cut them down.

    Make yourself harder to beat by slowing down within a few feet of the player with the ball. act like you’re running hard at a player, but slow down quickly when they get close by taking small steps and slowing down.

    Determining the ideal time to slow down takes practice. When you learn this skill, you will slow down too close to the player with the ball (allowing the attacker to hit you easily) or too far away (not putting adequate pressure on the attacker). as you practice defending at the correct distance it will become a habit that you will do without thinking.

    3. defend at an angle

    You want the dribble to be as difficult as possible.

    When you defend at a slight angle (with your body slightly turned to one side) you make it difficult for the attacking player to move in both directions.

    You can force him in the direction you want him to go and/or have him use his weak foot.

    for example, you defend at a right angle, forcing the attacker to your left. the sideline is to your left, so now the attacker doesn’t have much room to work with if he chooses to dribble.

    another example is that you know you have teammates close to your left. then you defend at a right angle, forcing the attacker to your left. another teammate pressures the attacker and you make the tackle.

    defensive posture

    1. lower your center of gravity

    Bend your knees and lower your butt slightly. when you stay in this position, you’ll move more easily and have good balance.

    2. extend your arms

    Raise your arms naturally to improve balance.

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    Use your arms to push the attacker’s arms away when he tries to dribble past you.

    soccer attacks

    Achieving the correct defensive approach and posture is essential. master both and you won’t need to tackle as often as the attacker will pass the ball quickly. As a result, you won’t get hit as often.

    Shortcutting is not an exact science. how and when to approach depends on the situation.

    in general, tag the attacker when he makes a mistake. plate quickly when he makes a bad touch or touches the ball too close to you.

    When you play against good dribblers, you have to knock down the slightest mistake or hesitation. always tackle when the attacker is off balance. otherwise, it continues to delay the player. you will be beaten most of the time when you recklessly take on good players.

    When a player turns their back on you, always apply intense pressure. defend both sides of the player. if you put too much pressure on one side, he can turn to the other side and hit you.

    Tackling a player is similar to passing a soccer ball. move your leg to the side to build momentum, then move it forward in a passing motion.

    don’t use your toe to drive the ball unless you’re sure you’ll win the tackle. pushing the ball is faster than using proper tackling technique, but you will be hit badly if the attacker touches the ball away from you. recovering from a failed tackle takes a long time and attackers can easily dodge the tackle. for these reasons, use the technique explained in the previous paragraph most of the time.

    If you miss a tackle, immediately turn your body and run towards the attacker. if you recover quickly, you have a good chance of reaching and knocking down the attacker. If you defend well and recover quickly when hit, attackers will be hesitant to dribble past you.

    fake an entry from time to time. Act like you’re going to tackle and then step back mid-tackle. false inputs throw the attacker off balance and force mistakes.

    When you decide to board, commit fully. do not enter with any hesitation as this gives the attacker more time to cut the ball. tackle hard.

    If the attacker moves to the side or turns, use your body to mercilessly defend yourself. good defenders create fear in attackers by putting relentless pressure on them the moment they make a move.

    tackling requires time and balance. Learning to tackle effectively takes a lot of practice. you’ll learn what works best in different situations as you gain more experience.

    defence without the ball

    Defending off the ball comes down to good things:

    1. stay in good standing
    2. stay with your man

    where you should position yourself depends on the football position you are playing and the situation. In general, you’re in a good defensive position when you’re in valuable space on the field.

    For example, you are in a good position when playing full-back if you have the sideline covered. stay close enough to the sideline so you can run into a deep ball played down the sideline, but far enough from the sideline so you can cover your man if he makes an inside run.

    This sounds confusing, but it quickly becomes second nature when playing your preferred position.

    Staying with your man is simple but not easy. you have your man covered if he’s close enough to intercept a pass or apply intense pressure when receiving a pass, and far enough away to stay with him when running forward. always stay closer to your target than to your man. this is called staying close to goal (read our article on how to communicate effectively in soccer to learn soccer-related terms).

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    Keep an eye on your man as much as possible (touch him with your arm if he’s close to you). you just need to let your guard down for a second to be defeated.

    soccer defense tips

    1. use the offside trap

    The offside trap can be extremely effective against teams that play through balls to fast forward.

    To make an offside trap, one player (usually the central defender) signals and all defenders advance. signal an offside trap a few seconds before the ball is passed.

    Even if you don’t use an offside trap regularly, you still need to watch out for offside. a defensive player should never be too far behind other teammates. keep a strong line to prevent forwards and wingers from getting behind the line easily and avoid being called offside.

    2. call a double team

    A double team is effective when used correctly.

    request a double team when the attacker is in a tight spot, such as near the sideline, or doesn’t have good support (eg a single striker going down the middle with no support runs).

    3. tell your teammates who to mark

    If you see an opposing player unmarked, immediately tell a teammate to mark him.

    Sometimes teammates worry about the ball and leave players wide open. avoid an easy goal by keeping an eye out for open players and letting your teammates know.

    4. effective delay

    defenders often focus too much on taking down. delaying an attacker effectively can be just as effective.

    When you delay an attacker, your teammates have time to come back and mark their man. As a result, the attacker often has few options and will make a poor pass.

    5. learn the defensive header

    direct the ball far and wide when you’re on the defensive half. Read our article, How to Head a Soccer Ball for more information.

    6. don’t be afraid to make mistakes

    never tackle with the intent to hurt. That said, don’t be afraid of being called a foul.

    When you worry about fouls, you defend less aggressively.

    mistakes will happen. they often do not deal damage to your team. you will be much more effective by playing aggressive and getting fouled occasionally than by playing timid and avoiding fouls.

    7. keep your anger and frustration under control

    It still amazes me how often advanced players make senseless fouls (often resulting in yellow and red cards) simply because they lose control of their emotions.

    football can be frustrating. you will be angry you can let your anger and frustration get the best of you and hurt your team, or you can use it as motivation to play better.

    tell yourself “I will not let my anger control me. I will use it as motivation to succeed.”

    control your anger and frustration and you will defend yourself better.

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