The core principle of every good
team is that everyone plays defense, all the time. You start by
defending at the front, you defend in midfield, and you defend at the back.
Defending at the front (by strikers)
Strikers have three main defensive
Closing down the defender with the ball
Many teams do this, but you must be smart about it
Close down especially tight on defenders who look
uncomfortable on the ball
down quick and tight when your team is in “high press” – trying to press in
the opponents’ defensive third of the field. Most teams do this sometimes
but not all the time.
Pick your moment – don’t burn out playing tight all game long
Channeling. Your team may decide before the game
whether to channel opponents to play through the middle or along the wing.
To force opponents back into the middle, pressure defenders
from in front of them;
To force the ball down the wings, pressure defenders from the
inside toward the side line, cutting off infield passes.
Goal kicks. Strikers must position themselves
well against opposing goal kicks (see “defending dead balls” for more on
Away from defenders
Facing the ball
Far enough back that only a well hit ball will go over them
Covering the correct side of the field
Moving immediately after the kick into nearby attacking
positions before the defense can re-organize
defending goal kicks
Good defense by attackers is a
foundation stone for good team defense. It really matters.
Defending in the middle (midfielders)
Midfielders are responsible for
defending against other midfielders and strikers.
Let me repeat that: midfielders
must get back to defend against opposing midfield and strikers. They
cannot just leave it to the defense. At least two midfielders have to get
Midfielders must think defense first, offense second
Take responsibility for the correct area
Midfielders are responsible for defense between the penalty
areas, on their side of the field and in the center (see below)
Mark their midfield
Midfielders need to know that they are responsible for “their”
midfielder. If “their” midfielder carries the ball as far as our defense,
they have failed
Standard first/second/third defender strategies apply
(see 5.2 Cover on the next page)
Checking back across into the center.
The far side midfielder must track back and across, as
they can become responsible for the opposing center mid.
They can leave their own midfielder to be managed by the far
defenders is covered in the next section)
defense is all about effort. Anyone can do it –
You just have
to work hard!