The definition of the modern soccer defender is constantly evolving. The quicker the game becomes, the more demanding the position becomes, not only physically but also technically. Defenders are reactionary players; they have to adapt and react to the opposition, all whilst helping their team keep possession. The primary role of a defender is to defend, however, players who limit themselves to simply defending and nothing else are also limiting their influence on the game. Modern defenders do much more than defend. Contrary to a forward, whose objective can be completed in a moment of genius, a defender must be a focused 90-minute player. A physical, technical or mental mistake usually results in a goal for the opposition, so defenders must be focused, technically proficient and disciplined. Ultimately, defenders are the backbone of our team, and as such they must comply with the rigorous physical and technical demands of the game. In order to improve and become a better defender, players must practice on their own and invest their own time and effort.
Defenders must be agile. Whether it’s tearing down the sideline to cross in a ball, sliding in for a last-ditch tackle or standing up a dribbler, defenders need quick feet. A good defender is one step ahead of who they are playing against. In order to do so, they have to be more agile and adaptable than any and all the players on the field. Lateral movement, quick turns, balance and good footwork are key components to being an agile defender. A set of Agility Poles is a great tool for improving those components and becoming a more agile player.
Speed in modern soccer is essential. Defenders must be able to physically keep up with opposing players. Awareness and positioning are hallmarks of an experienced defender, but without speed and quickness, defenders can find themselves physically outmatched. Often, defenders will have to track back and chase opposing attackers who have broken their line, and without the speed necessary to keep up, defending becomes very difficult. Faster defenders will be able to track their players and keep up with the speed of play more efficiently. Improving overall speed requires training and speed training is made easy with a Speedsac or Quick Ladder. The Speedsac is a weighted sled that creates resistance and improves explosive bursts and overall speed. The Quick Ladder is, as indicated, a portable ladder that demands quick and precise movements that will ultimately improve quickness and acceleration. Both these products will improve footwork and speed, both on and off the ball.
A defender must be focused for 90 minutes. Endurance plays a huge part in staying focused and alert. Fatigued players cannot keep up physically or mentally with the demands of the game. An error in judgment, or the inability to keep up with a player can cost your team the game. A defender has to know that if they are unable to perform at their highest ability for the entire game, they can become a liability. Endurance is not built up overnight, it’s the result of physical conditioning and repetition. A player who has not played a competitive match in months cannot expect to compete at the highest level for 90 minutes. Players who train and compete regularly will notice that the more they play, the better they are able to keep up with a long, demanding match and the less likely they are to feel mentally and physically fatigued.
Passing and Receiving
Defending is a necessity, it is the reaction to a loss of possession in an effort to win the ball back and stunt the opposition’s attack. In order to avoid constantly defending it’s important to keep possession and move the ball around the field. Passing and receiving the ball comfortably under pressure is a cornerstone of maintaining possession and is contingent on a basic level of technical ability. In order to correctly receive the ball, first players must focus on the quality of their first touch with different surfaces of play, in the absence of pressure. Defenders must be fully adept at controlling the ball in any circumstance with their chest, thigh, head and feet. As a defender, the risk is increased in possession because of the proximity to your own goal, so it is of utmost importance that defenders be able to safely receive balls. The other part of the equation is being able to pass the ball accurately and with the proper weight. Again, as a defender, connecting your passes becomes crucial, as errant passes can cause dangerous counter-attacks. The QuicksterSoccer Combo allows players to work on both of these fundamental skills with the use of a practice goal and a rebounder. Passing the ball into the rebounder at differing speeds and angles will provide the player with an array of bounces and challenges. Accurately passing the ball into the rebounder, and eventually practice goal, works on technical passing ability.