How to Control a Good Defense

Soccer is a complex team game that makes use of some fundamental human factors such as leadership, grit and tenacity. At any moment, depending on the ball’s position on the field, a team may be attacking or defending. The main job of the forwards and midfielders are to break the opponent’s defense and score a goal, whilst the opposite task falls upon the defenders. 

Defenders are usually seen at the back of any formation and have the task of stopping opponent forwards and wingers. Players in defensive positions are center-back, left-back and right-back. Midfielders also play a role in defending but when it comes to blocking an offensive shot or clearing the ball out of the penalty zone, the team usually turns to the defenders.

How to Control a Good Defense

What do defenders do? - How to Control a Good Defense

During the game, the defender’s main task is to prevent opponent forwards from breaching the defensive line and putting pressure on the attacking players. Another task of a defender is blocking shots and stealing the ball at crucial moments to prevent a goal. A good defender is one that is proactive in interception, winning headers from lofted shots, tackling to steal the ball away and blocking shots taken at their goal.

Defending Tactics - How to Control a Good Defense

Whilst stopping shots and tackling strikers are a part of defending, they are far from a viable strategy. In order to counter offensive formations of the opponent team a good defensive strategy is key. You will see that these tactics will not only enable you to defend well but also open up opportunities for your team to attack.

Zonal Marking - How to Control a Good Defense

This is a very basic and simple tactic. Here, every defender and midfielder is given a certain area or zone of the field they must cover. The task for the players is to defend their area but make sure to communicate with nearby teammates. This makes it so that the attackers have an entire field full of defenders to get into a scoring position.

Rallying at Your Goal - How to Control a Good Defense

When the ball is not in your team’s possession and the opponents are moving in to score, it is paramount to rally at the goal. This simple tactic increases the chances of winning back the ball and makes it that much more difficult for a goal to be scored.

Interception - How to Control a Good Defense

A smart defender capitalizes on the minor mistakes their opponents make and is able to put their team into a scoring or safe position. When a pass is either under hit or misdirected, a simple interception can change the pace of the game from a defense to offense in moments.

Man Marking - How to Control a Good Defense

In this tactic, a defender is assigned to guard an opponent striker or midfielder in order to put pressure on them. The tactic is quite popular with Italian teams and is often utilized when playing against stronger opponents. The defender needs to be able to keep up with their assigned striker; otherwise, this tactic will fail.


In any team sport, communication is key. Soccer is a game of ebb and flow and without proper communication, a team will face disarray on the field and ultimately lose the game. This is a key skill that all soccer players must master if they are to find success on the field. 

Verbal communication plays a big part on the field and helps in positioning, setting up plays, calling the offside, etc. Body language also plays a big part in on field communication. Gestures, pointing and even receiving the ball in a certain way can show how you want to react in a certain situation. 

Communication helps to build confidence in a team, especially if they haven’t played together before. A sense of unity comes from learning the fact that everyone wants to help each other. A pat on the back or a few words of encouragement can help greatly to boost morale at low points of a match.

Defense and Communication

As mentioned, communicating is key when it comes to preventing a goal or regaining possession of the ball. In order to run a proper defensive line against an attacking play, players must talk with each other to set up the line according to how the attackers are positioned in order to repel them. 

Sometimes, players will look up to a certain player to be the vocal leader, be it the captain or a defender or striker calling out a play or opponent. Other times, information about the field may be communicated to the others – things such as the positioning of certain players, where the ball is, etc. A good combination of verbal and body language can prove to make a strong defense.

Defensive Drills and What they can do for you

Running drills is very important if players are to improve themselves. Practice builds confidence and allows players to get more comfortable with their technique and improve their communicative skills with teammates. A few quick drills and their advantages are listed below.

1v1 Goal Defense drill - How to Control a Good Defense

In this, the defender is rushed by an attacker and has to prevent them from getting past and scoring a goal. This drill teaches the defender interception and how to win the ball back.

Defensive Clearance Drill - How to Control a Good Defense

Here, the defender tries to clear lofted shots to three players who are down field of them. This drill teaches a defender how to react quickly when intercepting a cross or a loft shot.

2v2 Battle - How to Control a Good Defense

As the name states, the attacking players rush the defensive players to get past them to score a goal. This drill is twofold and teaches dribbling skill, on-the-go decision making and interception.

4 Corners Passing - How to Control a Good Defense

This drill focuses on teaching players passing and dribbling skills. Players here focus on trying to get the ball from the opponent team and score by getting the ball to a box in either corner of the field.


Being a good soccer team doesn’t just mean being able to score goals or quickly tackle someone but effectively communicating to break the opponents’ defense and score a goal of your own. This list combines some of the most fundamental things a good soccer player should have to control a good defense.

You can also look for: How to deflate a soccer ball

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