Soccer is a game that demands the players be as mentally attentive as they are physically active on the ground. Ideally, any player on the pitch needs to be fully aware of the location and movement of the 21 other persons sharing the field. Soccer is all about balancing attack and defense - and the teams which can master it are the successful ones.
As important as it is, defense is not made a part of the training by many coaches. You need to incorporate defense skills and strategies into your workouts so that your players will know that it is as integral as offense skills are. In this post, we will see why defense is such a big deal in soccer, what makes an effective defense strategy, and how you can make your players good at defense.
The Importance of Defense in Soccer
The first thing that needs to be made clear is that every player needs to defend in soccer. If you want to teach your players how to do so effectively, you need to make defense a part of the training of ALL players regardless of their playing position.
If you teach the proper soccer defense tips to the players, you will be able to see these benefits:
1. Strong Defense Delays Goals
If your team has a strong defense, the goal scorers of the opposing team will have to face multiple layers of protection before they can put the ball between the poles. As soccer is a game with limited time, any delay decreases the chances of a team winning.
A team that knows the right defending tricks in soccer can better hold the goal scorers, preventing them from scoring a goal before time runs out.
2. Players Can Steer Attackers Off
Soccer defense techniques instill in players the ability to steer the opposite team’s attackers off to the sidelines. It increases the chances of the opponents making a foul move and getting a penalty. Even if that does not happen, your players get a better chance to have the ball to themselves and orchestrate better attack moves.
3. Players Can Better Tackle the Ball
Getting possession of the ball and retaining it is more important in soccer than we can stress. The only way your team can do this is by having a strong defense. When all your players have undergone defender training drills, they can keep the ball to themselves.
When players know how to defend in soccer, they also know how to stop defending players from the opposing team. It gives the players an added edge.
4. Acquiring the Ball Gets Easier
If your players have the basic knowledge and training for defense, they can easily acquire the ball from the opposite team. You can just imagine how important that can be in the game of soccer.
Whether a player is playing defense in soccer or not, a player with good defense skills will always be a great asset for the team.
The Correct Approach to Defense in Soccer
Being good at defense in soccer boils down to two things. Your team needs to have a proper strategy, and your players need to implement it by learning skills through defensive soccer drills. No matter how good soccer defense tips you give to the players, it will all be for nothing if they have no strategy.
Here are the things that you need to make a part of your soccer defense strategy:
1. Follow the Player With the Ball
Soccer is as much of a game of nerves as it is that of muscles. If your players succeed in exerting pressure on the other team’s offensive players, the chances of success increase.
One of the best strategies is always having one or more players around the opposing player with the ball. You need to strategize your team’s gameplay in such a manner as to place a defender behind the player with the ball to bring them under pressure. It increases the chances of them making an offensive mistake, giving your player more time to react to their actions.
2. Players Need to Balance Their Movement
When a player of your team approaches the man with the ball from the other team, they need to slow down as fast as possible and make their next move. This delicate balance between approaching the player quickly and slowing down to take the next step even faster is difficult to achieve. Luckily, there are soccer defensive recovery drills that can teach the players this skill.
An added benefit of slowing down quickly is that the opponent is more likely to make a wrong move under such a condition. When your player is coming at them at high speed, they calculate their next move according to that, but if they slow down as they just approach them, this will render their calculation to be useless, and your player will be able to make a successful move.
3. Do Not Defend Straight-On
Dribbling and shuffling are two of the most commonly used skills to hold defenders back. If your players defend at an angle and not head-on, they have a better chance to cope with the side-to-side movement of their opponent.
Defensive soccer drills for one person also make it easier for players to keep the rest of the field in their peripheral vision as they defend. As situational awareness is cardinally important in soccer, this gives the players a better chance to make a successful move.
4. Guard the Ball
Defense in soccer is not just the defense of the goal but also that of the ball. Your players need to be trained enough to keep the ball to themselves once they have acquired it. Getting a ball is one thing but keeping it among your players is another - and this is what matters the most in a game of soccer.
Once your players have the ball, they need to defend it from the attackers of the opposing team until it clears the goalposts.
4 Great Defensive Soccer Drills
The actual performance of your players on the pitch depends on the skills they practically have, which can only be acquired through drills and practice. The goal of defensive soccer drills is to make the players respond to unforeseen circumstances and respond to them quickly.
If any of your players asks how to become a good defender in soccer, tell them drills and practice is what they need. You can devise your own drills for soccer defense. Here are some ideas that might come in handy.
1. One-on-One Attack
It is one of the best 1v1 defensive soccer drills to teach defense and reaction skills.
How to Set Up
- Set two goals 75 feet apart and position a goalkeeper in each of them.
- Split the team and position half of them at each goal. Give both groups a supply of balls.
- Designate one team as the defenders and give them the ball to start.
How to Execute
- The drill starts with one of the defense players playing a long ball into the front line of the attackers and then closing the attackers down.
- The attacker receives the ball and has to take on the defender as fast as possible.
- After beating the defender, the offensive player scores the goal.
- If the defender succeeds in stopping the attacker, it’s the next attacker’s turn.
- The teams switch sides once every player has had the chance to attack and defend.
2. Circle Rondo Drill
The Circle Rondo Drill can be used as a warm-up before a game or to teach defense skills.
How to Set Up
- Use cones to make a circle with a 30 feet diameter.
- Position two defenders inside the circle and the others evenly spaced outside.
How to Execute
- The drill starts with one of the players on the outside passing the ball to another player on the outside.
- The goal of the outside players is to stop the defenders from getting possession of the ball.
- The defenders are tasked to cut off the ball while inside the circle and take possession.
- In case of the loss of possession for any reason, the player responsible has to switch roles with the player inside the circle.
- The drill moves at a fast pace, with player roles changing quickly.
3. 2v2 Attack and Defense
This drill focuses on judging what the attacker is planning to do and stopping them effectively. Whatever they try to do, the defender has to block them off.
How to Set Up
- Create a grid measuring 90 x 120 feet and place one Pugg goal on each line.
- Position two players without the ball (attackers) on one sideline and two with the ball (defenders) on the other.
How to Execute
- One of the defenders passes the balls to the attackers to start the drill.
- The defenders then close in to block off the attackers.
- The attackers can score a goal by attacking any of the goals.
- Once a goal is scored, or the ball goes out of bounds, the players are replaced.
4. 4v2 Game
It is a drill for both attackers and defenders. The focus here, for the attackers, is to build up an attack near the penalty area and score a goal while the defenders try to stop them.
How to Set Up
- Make a grid by placing a portable goal 75 feet from the primary goal to get a field that is 75 feet long and as wide as the pitch.
- Split the team into two and appoint one goalkeeper for each of the goals.
How to Execute
- Two attackers will start the drill at the goal they are attacking, while two defenders will begin with the goal they are defending.
- The attacking players will come inside the pitch and ask for the ball from their team positioned near the defensive area.
- The defending team will send in two players to intercept the attackers.
- The attacker will start the game by passing the ball to one of his teammates.
- Four attackers and two defenders then play 4vs2 soccer on the small grid.
Defensive Soccer Tips and Tricks
The importance of practice and drills can not be underestimated, but they’re not the only thing to guarantee success in soccer. Soccer tips and tricks will help your players better defend themselves in a soccer match.
Here are some tried and tested ones from soccer pros:
- Teach your players to give no time to react. Once your player approaches an opponent, their goal should be to make their move before the other player can do something to block them or render their move useless otherwise.
- Having the correct positioning and stance is more important than most players realize. Make them realize it and make it a part of the training.
- Teach the players how to beat a fast defender in soccer. It will keep them prepared for any situation they can face on the pitch.
- Keep the opponent and the ball in your field of view. Any slightest distraction can be enough to lose the ball, or worse yet, give the opponents the chance to score a goal. Teach your players to keep 100% of their attention on the ball and the player.
A good defense in soccer is impossible without a quick reaction time. If you want your players to learn that, the defensive soccer drills we listed above can come in handy. You can also use the BlazePod app and pods, which come with preloaded drills, to further improve their reaction time and make a difference in their gameplay.