There are many ways forwards can practice, but what about defenders? Below are some must know practice drills defenders need in soccer. When I meet a young player who is new to our program I often ask them what position they play. When they reply forward, I ask them “what if coach says you’re now playing defender?” Most of the time the player says in response “I’ll do it!,” which brings a big smile to my face. EVERY young player needs to learn how to play different positions. As the player gets older and reaches new levels, the chances of them getting asked to play defense is high. Learn below some of the best drills for a center back to practice.
Defenders first responsibility is to defend
Defending 1 on 1 is what all coaches want their players to be good at.
Whether the player is up top playing forward or in the back.
There are 1 on 1 situations all over the pitch…
If a player can win those 1 on 1 battles it helps the team tremendously.
At a young age, not all of the players on even the best teams are going to be technical with the ball.
This means that for most teams, at least half of the defenders will not have skills, but they can probably defend decently enough.
“Make sure you are staying goal side before your opponent gets the ball and then when they get the ball, keep your feet moving and stay low.”
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First touch passing drills defenders need in soccer
Ideally this is what you would hope for when the ball is coming to you.
One great thing you can do is work on passing the ball against a good rebounder, wall or with a partner.
Do this drill from different distances, as close as 3 yards, 5 yards and 15 yards.
The shorter the distance the more reps, so I like to start with being 5 yards give or take a few yards.
There is a great quote I like to use from Arsene Wenger, “Your first touch is your freedom,” which means if you have a good first touch you will not have as much pressure right away.
When you have more freedom you have extra time to look up and have more options.
Bouncing balls are hard to control
One of the hardest things for soccer players is the bouncing ball…
It’s unpredictable in how it’s bouncing.
When the ball can bounce in at your knees or shins it’s very difficult to get your foot to stop it from going past you.
The last thing you want to do is just let it hit you in the shins, which is what a lot of youth players under 10 years old do.
Then there is the ball that can bounce over your head, which you see happen to even college players sometimes.
Below read 5 practice drills defenders need in soccer
If you want more information on the bouncing ball then I have written a full article how to deal with a bouncing ball.
Controlling the long ball for defenders
The thing about improving in this area is you first want to work on getting reps from easy short balls.
Do this on your own by simply tossing the ball up one foot high and then controlling it.
Another thing you can do is pass the ball against the curb like this – video. Note: Find a safe place with no cars.
You can use the foot, thigh and chest.
Eventually you want to get the ball to your foot most times, so using your feet on the first touch is smart if you have time to do that.
Controlling the long ball is difficult because most players can’t practice this at home.
You can improve like I said by doing reps from short easy balls, but it’s just not the same as the real deal.
Having a ball come at you from 30-50 yards is intimidating for one.
If you can get to practice early or stay late and hit some long balls with a teammate or parent you will improve.
Once you lose that anxiety and turn it into confidence you start to see yourself improve faster.
Passing out of the back
Besides your first touch you really want to spend time passing the ball.
Out of all the practice drills defenders need in soccer, this is one that takes you to the next level.
Growing up I was lucky to learn different ways to pass the ball long and short.
Then I went and worked on it at my home in the backyard or in the house.
One thing you really want to stay sharp on is the push pass using the inside of the foot. This is the #1 pass you will use in a game.
Watch the pro’s on TV and watch how often they pass with the inside of the foot.
One reason professionals can do this is because they have support from their teammates who have positioned themselves to be close enough for this kind of pass.
You also want to be able to hit long passes with your laces [top of your foot].
Teaching muscle memory and form is a must.
Defenders get in situations where they are in front of their own goal and have to clear it out.
The key is that you want to learn all the best ways to strike a proper ball
It’s important and helpful when you know how to use them in the many different and unique situations.
5 drills defenders need in soccer
Wall passes are great for both your first touch [trap] and your passing.
All you need is a wall, rebound net like this or a partner to workout with you.
1) One touch passing on a wall from a 3-5 yard distance only using 1 foot. Switch after 50 reps and get your other foot.
2) Two touch passing against a wall or partner where you trap with one foot, take 3 steps, more if you have to and then pass with the other foot.
This is a great drill that I use almost every single session.
The main focus is that you don’t just trap and pass without taking the 3 steps between the trap and the pass.
3) Receiving bouncing balls you can just throw the ball at the wall and then receive it as it comes back at you.
Use different distances and also different tosses so that the ball comes at you different ways.
4) Turning while receiving is something you can use with a wall.
Simply pass the ball any way you want and as it comes back at you receive in with the inside of the back foot.
Once you turn you can either have a small target to pass to or just turn dribble 5 yards and turn again to pass at the wall again.
5) Trapping the ball down as it comes at you in the air or bouncing.
Use the inside and the outside of foot to trap the ball, keeping it down and settled. You can also use the top, depending on the situation.
Former college soccer player asking for expert advice
A friend of mine who I grew up playing high school with called me the other day.
He said he was overwhelmed by trying to find out what to teach his 11 year old daughter and her team.
After coaching different teams, he admits that training soccer players is not easy.
This is a person who played in college and who watches soccer all of the time.
How does a former college player not know what to teach?
Because… it’s not easy to know what and when to work on all the many choices.
In addition, there are thousands of coaching plans and skills to work on.
It’s different when it’s your kid compared to when you are just coaching a team.
It becomes personal and you want to get it done the best you can to help your kid.
This is why so many people ask me for expert advice on a certain ages/levels.
People know that you can make them do all the moves that everyone knows, but doing step-overs and scissor moves are not going to make you better with ball control.
“The way players improve fast is by using methods that get you the right amount of touches, using different parts of the foot and knowing how to position your body to best control the ball.”
Footskills help defenders gain ball control
Most defenders are playing that position [Center back or outside back] because they are either naturally better at defender, or they are not as good at controlling the ball.
The best way to improve is by using a proven method that I developed after 10 years of teaching private lessons to soccer players all ages and levels.
Now days you can go to YouTube and get overwhelmed with thousands of skill drills.
Instead save yourself tons of time and worry by getting a safe platform.
Are you are serious about working on your own and want that peace of mind in knowing you have proven methods to help you?
Some of my trainees spend several hours per week, but all I ask is that you commit to 30 minutes per week on your ball control.
Trust me it’s enough!
I know you are busy, but 5 minutes a day in a self-paced program is perfect for you.
See you inside!
This is my favorite rebounder because you can use it for passing and receiving on the ground and in the air.
In addition, do these free passing and 1st touch drills using a rebounder or wall.
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