5 Advanced Skills That All Soccer Defenders Should Learn
Basic skills will make you an effective defender on the field. But advanced skills will help take your game to the next level.
Here are 5 advanced skills that will help defenders take a big step forward in their development.
1. Proper covering positioning
Understand where you need to be standing if you are a secondary defender.
Typically, covering defenders are a few steps behind the primary defender and at an angle. You want to be close enough that you can step in and defend if the primary defender gets beat, but you want to be far enough away that the player can’t immediately get around you as well.
2. Which way to force a player
Your teammates should be verbally helping you decide which way to force your opponent to play. Typically, defenders want to force their players to the outside because this is further from the goal. They angle their bodies in such a way that makes their opponent play wide.
On occasion, you will want to force your player inside but this is only when you have another teammate that is coming to double-team the opponent. In this case, you would want to force them to turn into your teammate who is helping you defend.
It’s important to listen to and trust your teammates when they are giving directions.
3. Understanding when to slow the game down
If the opposing forwards aren’t pressuring you defensively and you have time to pass it around the backline, do it. This has to be done carefully because you don’t want to have a bad pass lead to a steal and breakaway.
Passing it around your backline can stretch the opposing forwards and tire them out. It also helps your midfielders and forwards have time to get up the field and into more dangerous positions to receive an eventual pass from you.
4. Delaying a player
This involves getting in front of an attacker who is coming at you with speed. You have to get in their way and slow them down without diving in.
It sounds simple enough but you need to have proper footwork along with the patience and poise to make it work. If you can delay your opponent properly, it will give your teammates a chance to recover and get into covering positions behind you.
5. Bodying a player off a ball or shielding
If a long ball is sent in towards your defense and it looks like it’s going to go out of bounds, it’s usually beneficial to let it go.
Bodying a player off the ball and guiding it as it goes out of bounds for either your teams’ throw in or a goal kick can relieve pressure on your backline. You have to be physically strong and functionally sound so as to not let the opponent get around you, get the ball, and get a cross off.
It’s best to bend your knees and keep your back straight up. You can put your arm out and feel for where the opponent is as well.