6 tips to be a better football defender

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Football is a chess game won by scoring more and conceding less than the opponent in a 90 minutes game

Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles

Sir Alex Ferguson

And coming from one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game we can only say AMEN

Point being, if you want to keep enjoying that wining feeling you can’t overlook the defensive part

The importance of a solid Defence

In the aftermath of a game it is always the defence that gets torn to shreds …. isn’t that the case ?

A team with a well drilled defence may not be able to win the game but it lowers the probability of losing it also … After all 1 point is better than nothing

It is actually obvious why you should strengthen your defence in your team but let me break it down to you

  • By improving your defensive game, you limit the opposition’s goalscoring opportunities. That means you can drastically reduce the likelihood of your team losing.
  • This also translates into lesser pressure on your attacking players, who consequently play with more freedom, making them more potent.
  • Having good defensive skills also gives your team the ability to win back possession quickly, and thus control the momentum at will.

It seems like I have got your attention by now so don’t be shy ask away….. What are the tips to create a strong defender ?

1.Know Yourself and Your Teammates

Understand your strengths and weaknesses, both individually and collectively. It’s impossible to train properly without doing so.

Knowing your strengths gives you more insight into how best you can exploit them in matches, and how best to adjust your game to make the most of them.

Similarly, knowing your shortcomings will give you the chance to try and nullify them. Or you can identify and work on other skills or tactics that compensate for the weakness.

As part of a team, however, it’s equally important that players know each other almost as well as themselves.

Knowing a defensive partner’s weaknesses, for example, prepares you to jump in and assist them when they need it.

All of this introspection is essentially preparation. By approaching your training in this manner, you become comfortable and in control of a variety of situations.

And ultimately, you are better equipped to prevent the opposition from exploiting your own weaknesses as well as your team’s.

2. Keep calm and stay in the zone

A great way to keep calm is to have a constant sense of awareness. What does that mean?

• Being aware of your own position relative to the play – Are you in a good position to be at hand when needed? Are you straying out of your assigned zone while following the play? Are you in danger of losing your mark?

Being aware of the positions of your teammates – Do you know the passing options available to you in case you receive the ball? Can you be better positioned to release the ball quicker in attack, or more safely in defence?

• Always knowing where the opposition players are – Are any of the opposition preparing to make a run in behind? Are you or any of your fellow defenders in danger of being blind-sided?

Stay ahead of the game and you won’t be caught napping!

3. Communicate as a Team

By constantly communicating with the players around you, you can limit the opposition’s opportunities by making sure that as a team you close down their players, and block the channels they’re looking to run into.

Calling out to each other makes your movements as a team more effective.

And it’s fundamental to coordinated moves such as the ‘gegenpressing’ of Jurgen Klopp’s sides, pulling off offside traps, and cornering key opposition players.

Besides, constant positive communication among teammates keeps the team fired up and on its toes, and reinforces the confidence that comes with working as a team.

​4. Timing is Key – Be Patient

You don’t really appreciate the significance of timing when making tackles until you’ve committed a foul in a dangerous position.

And usually it’s all because of reasons like:

  • Rushing into a challenge
  • Panicking at the thought of losing a mark
  • Lunging in after a rush of blood to the head
  • A communication breakdown with teammates

Taking into account the previous tips, defenders should have confidence in their defensive game, their teammates, and the game-plan.

Doing so should give them sound judgement as to whether or not to commit a challenge.

Committing to a challenge should ideally be your last resort in such a situation.

If you can, you should instead choose a less risky course of action, like:

  • Restricting such players to harmless areas of the pitch
  • Funnelling them out wide to buy time for your teammates to get back in position
  • Force them to do something else by feinting or moving a certain way

By being patient and not diving in, you can force them to act without making yourself and your team vulnerable.

Timing is key here as you want to regain possession or force the ball away from goal.

And to better equip yourself and your teammates to make the right choices in such situations, you need opposition prep…

​5. Know The Enemy​

As a defender you can gain an advantage over opposing attackers by knowing things like:

  • Whether a player likes to receive the ball into their feet or in space
  • If their heading game is on point
  • Whether they’re left or right-footed
  • Even knowing some useful things about an opponent’s character can give you a psychological edge – like whether they’re irritable, panicky in tight situations, etc.

​6. Iron-Out Your Weaknesses​

Easier said than done, right?But that was the whole point of tip one…

You discover your weaknesses, and work on erasing them or compensating for them.

How? By training hard of course.

  • Are strikers overwhelming you in physical battles? Head for the gym.
  • Are they beating you to the ball too often? You need more explosive speed.
  • Losing way too many headers? Work on your jumping height and technique.
  • Are you liable to panic or make mistakes under pressure? Practice those scenarios repeatedly, and improve your responsiveness and passing accuracy in tight situations.

And it’s not all physical training, of course. Like we said before, most of the defensive game is about tactical positioning to gain an edge over the attackers.

You can work on your positioning and reading of the game through simulations and studying the moves of great defenders.

As with everything else, practice makes perfect.

And while you remember to iron out those wrinkles individually, don’t forget that your team defends as a unit. If you’re out of sync, your wall could crumble any moment.

Defending is an art

Most people see defending as a barbaric act that it’s sole purpose is to injure the opposition and make them for their lives but it is not we’ve seen so many defenders that are classy and that play smoothly that you feel at ease watching them make a tackle or steal a ball and to motivate you to get better and better nothing better that real life action

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