Part 1 – The required skills
In this series of posts, I’m going to give you some tips on how to improve your defensive work when you play as a central defender. But first, let’s see what are the key qualities that this position require:
- Height and Muscle mass: It may seem unfair but modern soccer is like that. I’d say you need to be at least 5.9ft tall, and have a solid amount of muscle mass. Why? You will have to fight off strikers all the time and win aerial balls. You need to be strong and have an impact when fighting for the ball, so it helps a lot to be tall and have strength.
- Basic defensive skills: tackling, heading, one-touch clearance, marking (open play and set pieces), blocking (throwing yourself in front of the ball while the opponent is shooting).
- Agressivity: sometimes, you will have to do some dirty work, break actions with a foul and inspire some fear in the opponents. Winning a duel while showing power will make you look dominant and also help your team get a psychological advantage over the opponent.
- Reading of the game: This quality is essential. Being able to analyze the movement of all the players and anticipate the possible outcomes of a situation is very important if you want to defend better.
”Alone, you mean nothing”
- Tactical awareness and experience: Without understanding and following the tactical rules of defence, you can’t play this position and having experience helps a lot because you will be able to stay focused in tough situations where inexperienced players would panic. Communication is also a key factor because, to be effective in defensive actions, you need your teammates. Alone, you mean nothing!
- Be a leader: from the back line, you are able to see all the game and that gives you the obligation to guide and lead your teammates. Position them and make them aware of a hole in the defensive block.
- Quality passing: In modern soccer, the defender are not here only to defend. Paradoxal isn’t it? Well, now they are often the ones that have to build the game and allow a good circulation of the ball in order to get clear balls in areas where the midfielders and the strikers will be able to engage an offensive action toward the goal.
- Mental qualities: Courage, determination, temperament, reliability, focus,…
The list of qualities is absolutely not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of what a great defender is made of.
In the next post, we will start with the tips and recommendations !