How to Be a Good Defender in Soccer

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When you watch soccer highlights, you see highlights of one thing: goals. However, if you watch a whole match, you'll realize that some of the most important parts of the match take place when teams are unable to score goals.No matter how good your team is, you need to win the game on the defensive end. Being a great defender is not as glamorous as winning the golden boot award, but as a defender, your team needs you.Here is how to be a great defender.

  • Don't dive in: It may be a cliché, but as a defender or back, you have to know when to go for the ball and when to contain. Many times, playing good defense is not about taking the ball away, but about making sure the person with the ball can't dribble where he wants to. Be ready to force an attacker in a certain direction instead of taking the ball.

  • Communicate: If you're not on the ball, you need to be talking. You may be passing off a mark to another player, you may be telling another player who to mark, you may be telling another player which way to force the attack or you may be letting everyone know you are defending the player with the ball. Whatever you are doing, be sure to keep talking on defense. Defense is all about being in the right position and making good decisions, and you can't do any of that without proper communication.

  • Mark tight: Nothing causes a break down on defense as fast a poor marking. Make sure you mark on set pieces (throw ins, free kicks, corner kicks, ect.). Always mark who your goalie tells you to. If he doesn't tell you who to mark, mark whoever is closest. You must also communicate while marking up. A simple “I have 14” or “I got the far post run”, can go a long way. Also, be sure to always mark the goal side of your player.

  • Have a good stance: When you're defending on the ball, make sure you have a stance that allows you to do what you want. Be sure to stand with a clear front foot and be sure to be facing the way you want the attacker to go. Also, be close enough that you can reach straight out and touch him. That way you're close enough to jump on a bad touch and turn the ball the other way.

  • Be ready transition: Good defense leads to one very important thing: offense. When you get the ball do whatever you need to in order to maintain possession. Look for outlets, long balls, space to dribble, but ultimately make the simple pass. Leave the risk-taking to the strikers!

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