Tips on Becoming the Ultimate Soccer Defender
Being an elite defender is a tall task. Sometimes literally, it is a task for tall people, as height can be a great advantage as a defensive player.
However, the qualities necessary to be a great defender are not only physical attributes, but are also mental and emotional!
There are some key physical attributes that are very helpful in becoming a quality defender, such as speed, quickness, strength, and yes, size.
Speed and quickness are very useful qualities in defending elite attacking players, specifically in having the ability to pressure the opponent quickly and having the recovery speed required to catch the opposing forwards if and when you get beat.
You can compensate for a lack of physical speed by having great instincts and anticipation skills, which will put you a step ahead of the play so you’re not a step behind when you’re called into action. Defenders need to be strong, both physically and mentally, to win physical battles for positioning and tackling throughout a match.
Finally, as heading is a tremendous key to defending well, height or leaping ability are great tools to keep the ball out of the net on crosses and set pieces.
Defenders need to have great mental approach and preparation to perform their tasks well.
Defending is as much about reading the game and having great positioning as it is about any physical action. Defenders need to understand their role inside and out, as well as their defensive teammates, to understand how to pressure, cover and balance for one another and situational understanding of when to step up and force teams off sides or when to drop in deeper to defend.
Communication is key in working as a defensive unit, so defenders must be excellent in their knowledge of the game and in knowing how to voice direction and commands to their teammates during play.
Emotions run high when your adrenaline is pumping, but defenders must always keep a cool head and stay even keeled.
One lapse in judgement can see a defender commit a game-changing foul for a penalty or a decisive red card. In the heat of battle, being a good defender means knowing how to stay positive when your team is under heavy attack, and having the emotional strength to not lose your confidence and belief in your team.
As your job as a defender ultimately comes down to keeping the ball out of your net, defenders must have emotional maturity and the ability to quickly move on after conceding a goal to not allow a setback to alter their performance for the remainder of the match.
Frankly, being a defender is really physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. You either have the spirit to handle what it takes or you don’t. Being a great defender is part of your core, something you love and take great pride in.
Some people love to score or make a great pass; as a defender, nothing make you happier than sticking a great tackle or clearing a ball off the goal line. This is your calling and your desire to work on your craft will push you to become the best defender you can be.
If you have these physical, mental, and emotional soccer qualities, then you have what it takes to become a truly elite defender!