3rd defender  

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Itís all about positioning and awareness for the 3rd defender.

He is primarily a zone defender. While watching for possible switches to a wide player on his side of the field (where he would become 1st defender), he is mainly concerned with providing cover for the 1st and 2nd defenders.

Most important, itís his job to make sure to cover against crosses into the goal mouth.

         Mark the third attacking player loosely. Only close enough to close down after a direct switch pass (when you become the 1st defender).

          Zone marking

o        cover for second defender

o        move to the middle against crosses

o        must watch both for midfielders cutting in to receive a cross behind 2nd defender, and his own man at the far post. If in doubt, cover the center and leave the far post.

         Becomes 2nd defender if 1st defender is beaten and 2nd defender has to go help.

Basic positioning for 3rd defender

In the figure above, D3 is the third defender. His primary focus is on providing cover for D1 and D2, and for protecting the vulnerable space behind them (the danger zone)


Third defender support for second defender


In the figure above, D2 is now 1st defender. D3 has moved over to become 2nd defender. This leaves A3 unmarked, and the oval space unguarded. Thatís dangerous but necessary, because A1 and A2 are the immediate threat. Thatís why the midfield has to defend! Only the far side midfielder can mark A3 and cover the danger zone.


Become 2nd defender immediately, before A1 can get past D2as well as D1

 Defending against crosses


In the figure above, the point of attack is now the wing, and the danger area is in front of goal. D3 is now 3rd defender, and must guard both against a run toward goal by A2, and a far post run by A3.



Donít let an attacker get between you and the ball or you and the goal in the danger zone.  You must get to the ball first!



Contact: rgaster@north-atlantic.com