Soccer Defensive Drills

How to Become a Good Soccer Defender

Good defending is typically the foundation of every good soccer team that win games. Getting your defensive stance and approach right is important.

players should learn how to defend properly, including forwards and midfielders. Learning how to defend is not only for defenders.

Players that defend with protection and disciplined mentality can significantly contribute to their team. Learning how to defend effectively will help make you a better player.

The defensive soccer drills highlighted in this post will help you learn defending principles such as cover, balance, and pressure. They will also help you enhance the skills required in defensive situation, either individually or in a team. With hard work and commitment, you will be on your way to becoming a great defender.

A Guide on How to Become a Good Soccer Defender

Knowing how to defend is one of the essential skills that all players on the pitch should know how to do correctly. Everything in a soccer game does not revolve around attacking your opponents and scoring goals.

A good soccer team is always characterized as having a solid and incredibly strong defense. In this section, we will discuss the traits of a great defender and everything you require to enhance your defending skills considerably.

Traits of a Great Soccer Defender

soccer defender

There are various areas or skills that every professional soccer player should develop to become a better defender. 

Before you become a good defender, you need to become a great soccer player first. Developing the skills highlighted below will set apart professional players from non-professional ones.

Physical ability: Physical ability is one of the skills that many players invest most of their time in every single day. 

Going to the gym and soccer practice will enhance your physical condition, strength, and stamina to help you get closer to your goals.

However, many soccer players usually limit themselves to developing their physical aspect only. Remember that being able to perfect all the areas discussed in this section is what brings a distinction between elite soccer players and the rest.

Excellent passing ability: Good defenders have an incredible passing ability. They understand how to select the right passes in each situation and can effectively execute them to perfection.

The defensive position is typically a highly pressured position because there is no room for mistakes, unlike other positions. 

If defenders cannot pass properly, they will expose the whole team to a high risk of the opposing team receiving the ball and scoring goals. 

A good soccer defender should have excellent passing skills and the ability to do it even when under extreme pressure.

Strong heading ability: Every defender should know how to head the ball well. There will be many occasions where the ball will be in the air once it gets to the defense. 

In such situations, a great defender will need the ability and confidence to head the ball strongly in the direction they would like it to go.

They will not be afraid of fighting for the possession of the ball or firmly move towards it as it arrives instead of waiting for the ball to come to them. 

When heading the ball, you need to be quite assertive as you go towards the ball. Attack the ball instead of allowing it to come to you, and you will realize the difference it will make to your heading ability.

Accurate shielding ability: Having the ability to shield the ball well from other players is an essential quality that is evident in all popular defenders.

Traits of a Great Soccer Defender

 Like many other qualities discussed in this section, this one is related to the previous trait of physical ability and incredible core strength. That is because your capacity to shield the ball properly depends mainly on your ability to hold back an opposing player with your body physically.

 Placing yourself between the opposition player and the ball prevents the other player from stealing the ball from you and potentially establishing an attack. A good defender should master this ability and also use it correctly and more often.

Good tackling ability: A great soccer defender should be good at tackling the ball. To be an exceptional tackler, you need to have an excellent sense of timing. Trying to tackle a moment quite late or pretty soon can be the main difference between fouling the player and winning the ball.

Knowing when to tackle an opposing player depends on your ability to foresee where the ball and player are about to go. That involves reading the body language of the player to make an accurate prediction and also devote to the tackle.

Always take your time to watch the ball and the opposing player with it. Follow their movements closely and make a perfectly-timed tackle.

Technical ability: A good soccer defender should be technically sound, along with incredible on-the-ball skills. The technical side normally includes all the aspects that are important to soccer. Passing, dribbling, heading and shooting, are all basic technical aspects of a soccer game.

It is also an aspect that’s quite common when practicing for soccer. In many cases, all teams will begin with selected physical conditioning exercises during training and then practice drills for ball control, dribbling, shooting, and passing, among others.

Although there’s still a place for team defenders who normally walk the soccer ball up the playing field each time it comes close to them, a technically great defender should be able to implement passes that retain possession of the ball and help them set up a counter-attack.

As a soccer defender, you need to ensure that you develop a good balance between physical and technical abilities. Having incredibly good physical ability is not useful if you’ve got horrible techniques and vice versa.

Do not neglect the regular shooting, passing, or ball-control drills. In each training session, you need to work pretty hard on the basic skills required to improve your soccer game.

Speed and core strength: A good defender will need speed to help make quick turns and keep up to avoid getting dominated by fast wingers. A center-back defender with good strength and positioning can be quite effective with limited speed, but having good speed will significantly enhance their abilities to defend the ball.

Although a defender does not always have to be extremely physically imposing to be a great defender, they need to have high levels of physical strength. Core strength impacts the ability of a player to change directions quickly and move fast.

It is also crucial to their ability to win the tackles and reduce the chances of injury. More importantly, core strength acts as a base for coordination posture, strength, power, and endurance.

These reasons alone indicate why a great defender should have core strength and speed to dominate their positions on the field and be the best they can be. Working on boosting your core strength and speed can significantly enhance your performance on the pitch.

Soccer Defensive Drills

  • Channel The Attacker Drill

  • Horizontal Challenge Defensive Drill

  • Two-on-Two Support Soccer Defensive Drill

  • Four-on-Two Overload Soccer Defensive Drill

  • No Turn One-on-One Drill

  • Defensive Recovery Runs Drill

Channel The Attacker Drill

Dribbling past the defense of your opponents’ team is the desire of every player. What counts is the number of shots that the team manages to make into the goal. This drill helps players learn all the tactics that the offensive players may use to score.

Drill Setup

  • Make three-line spaced gates using four cones. You can use any line marked on your training yard for any needed reference. Ensure your three gates are 5, 4, and 3 yards wide.
  • Put a cone 15 to 20 yards far from your large and first gate, and the two should be perpendicular to each other.
  • Make two groups from your team and assign every team a differently colored jersey. Ensure every game has about 6 to 10 players.
  • The attacking team should then line behind your far set cone. The other team should then take up the defending role and line behind the 3 yards gate.
  • Assign a ball to every defended while the extra balls should remain close to the defending team’s queue.
  • Have a limited time and rounds to run the activity. Take approximately four minutes and five rounds.

Drill Instructions

  • The leading defender starts by passing the ball to the adjacent attacker and immediately sprints toward the same attacker.
  • The attacker should receive the pass and dribble towards the set gates.
  • Attackers should try scoring as many points as possible. The big gate is worth one point, the middle five, and the furthest ten.
  • The defender tries channeling the ball away from the ten-point gate towards the one-point gate. The defender should do everything possible to win and hinder the attacker from gaining any points.
  • Once the attacker dribbles the ball through any gate or the defender wins back the ball, the waiting set of players should start their turn.
  • The trainer records every point scored by the attacker team in every round.
  • The team players collect the lost  balls at the end of every round, and they also change roles.
  • The attacking teams' winner should be declared by the trainer as the team with the highest point after every team has finished its first round.
  • The teams should repeatedly do the process for two to four rounds.

Drill Variations

  • The defending team players can be permitted to try score if they win the ball from the attacking players.

Drill Coaching Points

  • Start by advising the younger players and explaining the scoring system before the start of the first round.
  • Channel, a defender, forces the attacking player towards team pressure, sideline, or away from the elected goal.
  • Force players to use their weaker foot or stop counter-attacks for higher agility.
  • Teach the defenders the need to close down the gap between them and the attacker.
  • Teach defenders to position their bodies at a 45-degree angle as the offensive players dribble through the space left by the defender.
  • Encourage the attackers to remain creative, quick, and decision on the soccer ball as they attempt to beat the defensive players and score to earn points.


Drill Ages

  • It is a tactical drill suitable for players above ten years up to the professional soccer players' age bracket.

Soccer Drill Focus

  • Individual defending
  • Defensive footwork
  • Closing down speed

Best Soccer Training Equipment for Defendining

Soccer Rebounders

Defensive skills involve timing, controlling, tackling, and having an excellent first touch to the ball. The rebounder allows you to make some juggles before kicking back the ball towards it again.

Therefore, it takes up the role of a training partner. Having a soccer rebounder implies that you are guaranteed to have a committed teammate. You can easily set it up and  practice as you wish, anywhere, and anytime. You have all it takes to enhance your skills through repeated training with a rebounder even when the rest of your team members are not available.

Soccer rebounders used during defensive drills are useful in improving several skills. Some players acknowledge that through rebounders, they managed to strengthen their weaker foot, improved their reaction and agility times, and enhanced their accuracy.

Besides, the rebounder allows a player to combine several drills and acquire a suitable fitness regime. Even the junior and average players can enhance their gaming skills and contributions to their team.

Though rebounders are known to have many benefits for soccer fanatics, there are three that are most outstanding. As a defender, the rebounder helps you hone your shooting, passing, and first touch skills. 

Regardless of your position in the field, you are a team member, and active participation is paramount. The opponents must not get to perceive you to be the weak point of the team.

Defenders should have mastered high first touch skills. However, these skills are the most difficult to acquire fully. Using a rebounder makes you have the extra time needed to learn the skill effectively. The more assured and quicker the first touch, the more space and time the player has to control it.

Every soccer player with perfect first touch skills has the soccer ball working for them in the field. The rebounder allows a player to start with learning ways to control the ball and trap it when stationary, then get on the move while at varying heights and angles.

Rebounders are also useful when learning defensive skills, for they offer an opportunity for the players to work on their precision, timing, and power. Players practice hitting the soccer balls at varying force and speeds.

When buying a rebounder, one should look for one that will withstand different weather and field elements. Also, go for a rebounder that suits the defensive drill and remain standing even after powerful shots.  

Soccer Agility Pole

Soccer agility poles come in different sets and colors. As a defender, your turning speeds and strong tackling an attempt to prevent the offensive player from making a shot would have to outshine the attacker's skills. 

Therefore, the agility poles are essential during defensive drills as they help the player build their agility, lateral speeds, and body and feet strength. Every step you take as you move around the sticks makes your body stronger.

Besides, the agility poleS are effective during defensive drills because they enable complete workout to different parts of your body. You get to squeeze yourself in between the poles. You will also enhance your ball skills by dribbling through the versatile agility poles.

Defensive skills also entail quick spins and aggressiveness towards the ball. The agility pole help the defender build better shielding ability, heading ability, and speed. You get to weave in and out through the sticks while maintaining your head up for appropriate monitoring of the aggressive player’s moves.

Besides equipping you with the right soccer skills, the agility poles enable you to burn the excess calories to maintain your body fitness. You slowly start moving from one end to the other, and continuously increase your speed. Therefore, you get to improve your speed, agility, spatial awareness when making turns, passing lanes, and other essential defensive skills.

Factors to Consider when Buying Agility Poles

Ground PegsWhen purchasing agility poles to use during your defensive drills, consider their ground pegs. Some come with metallic ground pegs that are meant for the natural surfaces only. Others have a round steel base designed for both indoor and outdoor use. You first need to know your common field surface to be training, whether natural, turf, or grass, and go for the sticks that suit your environment.

WeightPerfect coaching sticks should be lightweight but made using compact material for high durability. It should be easy for you to transport to your training ground and take it back to your storage site. The sticks should also remain firm enough even when you touch them with your shoulder or other parts of your body as you move in and out.

HeightSoccer coaching sticks come in various heights suitable for a different level of players. The young and upcoming soccer players have their sticks designed short enough to suit their body height, and the same happens with the tall, professional players. When preparing for your drill, go for a set of agility poles that suit your height. Some come in fixed heights while others are adjustable.

ColorThe color of your agility poles determines their visibility. Some sets come with several pairs of differently colored sticks, while others have common colors. 

Soccer Agility Kit

The soccer agility and speed kit are meant to offer you a great workout. You not only enhance your defensive skills but also build and strengthen your body muscles. Frequent use of the kit helps you improve your agility, ball control, speed, spinning, and strengthen your weaker foot.

The kits normaly includes an agility ladder, jump rope, agility cones, and an octa ring. Some kits may also include a set of agility poles. You get to know how to control your speed, timing, angle of approach, and other defensive tactics. Below are some components of the kit, their roles in defensive drills and features to look for when buying one. 

Components of a Soccer Agility Kit

Jump Rope: When using a jump rope during the defensive drills, you tend to work on your speed, coordination, athleticism, body fitness, agility, and quickness. Your header skills are also improved when jumping high to jump the timed rope. Your legs and ankles are strengthened so as you will not easily get injured during the soccer game.

Go for a jump rope that suits your height, preferred length, and made of durable material. The rope handles should also make it comfortable to hold and swing it during the jumps. Avoid getting a very heavy rope, for it may tire your hands before the set training time.

Agility Cones: Agility cones help improve your acceleration speeds, quick change of directions, and precise ball timing and control. You get to dribble the soccer ball from one end of your cone setup to the other. Learn how to run with your head up, make informed decisions on the direction to run towards, and coordinate your moves.

Buy agility cones with highly visible  colors. They should be of a material that does not easily break even when they stepped on. The cones should be easy to carry, story, and tall enough.

Agility Ladder: Using your agility ladder during defensive drills enhances your acceleration, body balance, speeding, agility, and timing skills. You tend to develop strong feet joints, muscle tendons, and ligaments. The defensive drills are among the most intense, and so the ladder would help keep your body fit for a soccer game.  You need a ladder that is highly versatile, durable, and effectively suits your training needs.

Octa Ring: Soccer octa rings for your agility kit should enhance your speed and agility. You get to build strong foot muscles. You will improve your feet coordination and ball control skills too. Always go for an octal ring that you can quickly snap together in making various collections of formations. They should also be easy to set up and bring down, durable, and transport.


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Last update on 2023-09-29 / This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Lazy Legs

"I learned all about life with a ball at my feet." Soccer allows me to push the limits of creativity and express myself without saying a word. Soccer is my addiction. I train, I play, and I repeat every single day. I hope you like my site. Feel free to say hey. I don't bite. :)