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4 Skills Every Defender Needs

It’s essential for defenders to have a variety of skills in their locker. Defenders need to be able to control the game, keep possession and play forwards.

The key is to keep pressure on the opposing team to stop them from creating chances and create space when playing forwards.

Whether you’re a U8 or a first-team player, here are the key skills you want from a top defender in possession

Aerial control

Often the ball enters your half from Goal Kicks, Free Kicks or volleys, it’s important that you can control the ball from an aerial pass. This includes using your head, chest, knees as well as your feet, how can you take advantage to win possession and most important keep possession.

As well as technical ability, balance is a key part of mastering your aerial control, make sure to work on your strength and conditioning to build up muscles in your legs and core.

First Touch

Your first touch is setting you up for your next move. However, having a good first touch isn’t enough. You need to know what’s going on on the pitch, analyse whether to switch play, play forwards, dribble… When receiving the ball, you need to be confident to scan the field acknowledge where players are and anticipate opportunities.

Turning Safe Side

Keeping the ball safe side is a good way to reduce the chances of losing the ball and gives your team more time to get into form. Keep your back to your opponent and keep your studs on the ball, this gives you the ability to move the ball in any direction while also reducing the chance of giving a foul.

Playing Forward

A great defender can set the tempo when playing forwards, to do this you need to understand when and how to move forwards, if you dribble forwards out of place and lose the ball, you leave a hole in the defence. Analyse the pitch and see where the opposing team is leaving a space open and get your teammates to move into space.

Here are some skills to practice at home that will help you improve keeping your head up, drive & technique. Practice this in combos and get them out in training and games!

  • Cryuff Turn
  • Drag Back
  • Step Over Turn
  • Reserve Cruyff
  • Outside Touch
  • Jump Back
  • Roll and Cut

Try spending a minimum of 30 minutes a week on your ball control practising these skills alone, or against a partner. Make sure to download the MyPersonalFootballCoach app for 100’s of free skills, challenges and combos to practise anywhere in the world.

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