Defending is a skill that every player uses; yet, it is rarely taught throughly. This guide will try to give general defending form and tips, while giving specific techniques that actual defenders should use (such as the offside trap). Every player, even forwards, should read this guide; defending is a skill as vital as dribbling.
The Defending Approach
1. Move quickly to the ball carrier
Sprinting to the ball carrier will immediately put pressure on him. Most of the time he will just pass the ball off when you put on some pressure in the correct way.
If you are close to the player, exclude this step. Sprinting too near an opponent will allow the ball handler to easily get past you.
2. Slow Down Quickly
A common mistake among novice defenders is to rush to the ball. If the ball carrier is unskilled, the defender could make a tackle, but this tactic quickly becomes ineffective when playing against decent players. All it takes is a cut to the side to get past a rushing defender.
The solution to this problem is to quickly slow your approach. This will allow you to balance yourself, so you will be able to move side-to-side with the ball handler.
Start slowing down when you are within 5 feet of the player. This requires timing, but it will come naturally with practice.
3. Run at an Angle
Why let a player choose where to go? Force him to go where you want him to.
You can accomplish this by approaching at a slight angle and turning your body to the side. This will force a player to one side.
You can use this technique to force a player towards a teammate, force him/her to their weaker foot, or force him away from goal.
The Defensive Stance
1. Lower your center of gravity.
By bending your knees and getting lower to the ground you can balance better and move with your opponent better.
2. Arms up for balance
Your arms should be in a comfortable position near your sides. Your arms will help you balance, run (if you need to), and you may need them to touch the ball handler.
Getting the approach down, is important, but the best defending approach is useless if a successful tackle is not made.
Tackling is almost like passing a soccer ball. Move your leg to the side to build momentum and move through making contact with the ball.
Timing and balance is everything when performing a tackle. Make a tackle only when you know you can take the ball because a failed tackle will allow the defender to get by you. If you do fail a tackle, immediately recover and sprint back.
Soccer Defending Tips
A common defending mistake among beginners (and occasionally under expert players) is to stab. Actually, the real mistake is to run full speed at the player with the ball and stab, but you learned earlier in this guide how to properly approach the ball carrier.
Stabbing is a hard habit to break, and even intermediate defenders sometimes resort to it. Just keep thinking tackle, not stab and the habit will break.
Don’t Always Tackle
Executing a tackle can be risky so sometimes you should perform other tactics. Try to force the ball carrier to the sidelines or to a defender to maximize your chances of winning the ball.
Staying goal-side is a fancy term for standing between the defender you are marking and the goal. This forces him of her to go through you if they receive the ball.
Constantly change your position to remain goal-side. The player you are marking will constantly try to get past you. Touch the player so you can watch the ball while keeping tabs on where he is.
Use the Offside Trap
A good defense should be know how to use the offside trap. Even if you don’t choose to use it, you should be aware of offside. This can be used prevent forwards from getting too close to goal. Always hold your line.