Everyone defends  






Everyone defends

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 responsibilities:

·         Closing down the defender with the ball

o        Many teams do this, but you must be smart about it

o        Close down especially tight on defenders who look uncomfortable on the ball

o        Text Box: he My vision of a champion is someone bent over, drenched in sweat, to a point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching.

AnAnson Dorrance, record-breaking UNC women’s coach
Close 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.

o        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.

o        To force opponents back into the middle, pressure defenders from in front of them;

o        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 this):

o        Away from defenders

o        Facing the ball

o        Far enough back that only a well hit ball will go over them

o        Covering the correct side of the field

o        Moving immediately after the kick into nearby attacking positions before the defense can re-organize

o        See 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 back!

·         Defense first!

o        Midfielders must think defense first, offense second

·         Take responsibility for the correct area

o        Midfielders are responsible for defense between the penalty areas, on their side of the field and in the center (see below)

·         Mark their midfield

o        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)

o        Checking back across into the center.

o        The far side midfielder must track back and across, as they can become responsible for the opposing center mid.

o        They can leave their own midfielder to be managed by the far side defender. 


(Defending by defenders is covered in the next section)



Midfield defense is all about effort. Anyone can do it –

You just have to work hard!



Contact: rgaster@north-atlantic.com