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How to Defend In Soccer: Practical Tips To A Better Defender

Defending is an important part of soccer.

No matter the position a player holds in a soccer game, they should know how to properly defend.

But it’s up to the player to work hard towards ensuring they grasp basic defending skills.

And because most coaches don’t take time teaching players how to defend, it’s common to find beginners and even fairly advanced players struggling with this.

That’s why we have come up with today’s article to help you learn the roles of a defender, how to defend in soccer 1-on-1’s, tackling and some valuable defense tips.

Read through to the end!

Role of Defender in Soccer

In soccer, there’re various types of defenders.

And while their main task is to make it difficult for their opponents to score, they divide some roles amongst themselves for a more specialized defense.

Here are the different types of defenders and their roles in the pitch;


The wing-back performs both the responsibilities of a defender and a winger.

Their main function is to tactfully get the ball down the wing and then proceed to offer a whipped cross.

This is the most common role for teams using the three-central defenders tactic.

In this caser, the wing-back tends to perform more duties than the full-back defender.

Therefore, the player taking up this role should be extremely good with impressive defending skills.

Central Defender

The main responsibility of the central defender is to ensure that they are always at the right place at the right time.

So that they can tackle and fiercely move to block their opponents’ way, to prevent them from scoring.

The best combination of central defenders includes the traditional one whose main role will be the kick away the ball as far as possible from the goal.

And the other one will be the ball-defender skillful enough to remain calm on the ball while seeking ways for back playing with the help of short passes.

Full-back Defender

As a full-back defender, you’re a two-in-one role player.

Your main responsibilities will be defending by keeping the trail of your opponent’s strongest wide attacker and ensuring that they don’t receive crosses in.

Also, when not defending, you are required to assist your team’s strongest wide attackers to frustrate the opposition’s defenders, to maintain ball possession and increase chances of scoring.

How to Defend in Soccer 1-on-1

Soccer is an enjoyable game, but there are also some tough situations that players face.

One of them is defending 1-on-1, as many players don’t know how to successfully handle the situation and turn things around in their favor.

Here is what you have to do in case you ever face a 1-on -1:

1. Anticipating

Once you notice an attacking player fast approaching, your mind should work quickly to try to figure out their movements.

Depending on the past habits of the attacker, you try to focus on the ball or their feet movements.

But sometimes, you will need to check out their midsection as you can easily get a clue on where their feet are headed.

The secret is to quickly unveil their quick movements so that you get to react on time and correctly to save the situation.

2. Approach

When approaching your attacker, ensure there’s enough room between you two.

This is a great tactic to enable you easily change course, in case the attacker notices you and decides to quickly shift. You get to catch up with them and frustrate their efforts.

You should, however, ensure that although your feet are slow as you approach the attacker, they aren’t lately placed.

Your posture should sway in such a way that you can easily shift to any direction with ease.

The most important thing is not allowing your attacker to go around you that easily.

Remember, when your posture has lurched, the attacker will find it difficult to slot the ball through your legs.

3. Gaining Control

Now that you have mastered the art of stance lurching, you can be sure to have cut short your attacker’s dream of getting around you to your forward feet.

What next?

You should now focus on controlling the situation and the attacker’s tactics as well.

Your actions should force them to change course as this will make it easy for you to anticipate their next move.

However, ensure your body remains the main obstacle between the attacker and the net. The last thing you would want is to make things easier for them.

Tackling In Soccer

When you’re playing soccer, tackling becomes a frequently used tactic.

But even with the most experienced players, it can be dangerous.

One wrong move from your end and you will be facing a yellow card or even worse a red card or injuries on both sides.

Sometimes players face suspension.

That’s why you should invest time in finding out as much information as possible about this vice to help you be on the know-how.

Below, we discuss the various types of soccer tackling and many things you should keep in mind whenever tackling;

  1. The Slide-tackle

This tackling tactic should be your last resort.

You have to exercise caution as any wrong move at the wrong time and place can turn against.

However, if you move swiftly and can retrieve the ball through slide tackle, the result is always fulfilling.

It involves sliding towards one side of your body while bending the supporting leg to help you move quickly and gain control of your body.

Here’s a video to give you a glimpse on how it’s done;

  1. Poke Tackle

When resorting to using this tackle, ensure you’re on an excellent trail position. And this should be either behind or one side of your opponent.

Your positioning should leave no room for mistakes.

Also, if you have to use this tackle, ensure your opponent is only partially shielding the ball from you. Otherwise, the poke won’t be effective.

When you poke tackle, you simply shove your leg forward to get the ball.

Hence, the ability to maintain bodily balance is critical.

  1. Block Tackle

When you don’t want to use a sliding tackle, but still want to stop your opponent’s pass, a block tackle makes the perfect fit.

The major difference between the two is that while the sliding tackle involves you sliding your feet through your opponent’s legs, the block tackle allows you to use your legs, but only up to proximity with your opponent.

The best part of this is that you remain standing, so you get to break the opponent’s attack and draining all their possible passing options.

As the defender, you’re supposed to intentionally position yourself in the way of the attacker.

But ensure that you can easily change position by restricting yourself from extending your lead leg. Rather, keep the knee bent and be on your toes.

Soccer Defense Tips

  1. Be Aggressive

Being a good defender means you shouldn’t be scared of rapid tackles and body defense.

The idea is for the other teams’ attackers to fear you.

  1. Encourage Teamwork

You can’t succeed alone. You need other teammates for execution, so be friendly and approachable.

  1. Clear the Ball

When the pressure is getting too much in the field, consider clearing the ball to the furthest corner or outside the pitch for a throw.

This allows your team to strategize.

  1. Prevent the Opposition from Shooting

Remember your main role is to frustrate the attacking efforts of your opponents.

Don’t give them room to shoot.

  1. Intentionally Delay Threatening Dribblers

Identify your opponent’s key dribblers and purposively delay them.

If you let them frustrate your teammates, they will keep doing it over and over again.

  1. Overlap and Cover Often

Whenever you see a winger with the ball, try overlap and cover them up.

  1. Don’t let Anger Overpower you.

Remember frustrations are meant to strengthen you. Be in control of your emotions.

  1. Don’t Be Scared Of Being Called For Fouls

You aren’t the 1st one. So long as it wasn’t intentional continue defending aggressively.

  1. Don’t Let opponents Dribble

Hun your opponent’s dribbling dream by refusing defeat.

Tactfully, steal the ball from them when they do.

  1. Call for a Double Team

This is effective when the attacker gets to the tight spot.

FAQ About How To Defend In Soccer

How to defend in soccer against fast attackers?

Use the full-back play to create traffic in the middle of the field. This makes difficult for the attacker to penetrate.

Remember not to drop too far back from your midfielder as it creates an easy passage for the attacker.

Retract immediately you sense the forward is about to be set free.

Use a “running technique push” to keep the attacker off the ball, while being careful not to foul.

You should be forward, with the attacker backward.

How can I practice defending soccer alone?

Invest time in drills and activities that boost your speed and agility.

They’re both important attributes of a great defender as you need to move very fast and to all sides of the pitch.

How do you defend give and go soccer?

You open the passing lane for your teammate and act as a temporary decoy.

Your teammate runs around and outside of the opponent, and you return the ball to them on the other side.


Defending makes soccer interesting.

It triggers competition between the playing teams and ensures victories are well deserved.

However, to be a great defender, one has to master their roles, learn how to tackle and make use of various success inspired tips that will differentiate them in the field.

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Patrick Richardson
I am a huge soccer fanatic who created this blog to help you find the best deal for soccer equipment.

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