A good solid defense is a key to winning games in soccer. Goals may be more exciting, but defense can win games.
You may think at first that defense is only the job of the goalkeeper, but you couldn't be further from the truth. All of the players on the field are responsible for defending. The goalkeeper is just the last line of defense, when all else fails.
One important concept in defense is that you keep your body between the ball and the goal. This is especially important for the last line of defenders and will make it difficult for the opponent to get off a shot.
When you are on the player with the ball you should get into a defensive stance. This is where you are slightly crouched with your knees slightly bent. Your feet should be apart with one foot a little in front of the other. From here you should be ready to react and attack the ball when the opportunity arises.
Closing in on the Ball
When you close in on the player with the ball, you need to stay under control. You want to get there fast, but not so fast that you can't stop quickly.
Sometimes you will need to contain the ball. This means that your main job isn't to steal the ball, but to slow the opponent down. An example of this is on a breakaway. You want to slow the opponent down giving your teammates time to catch up and help out.
Use the Touch Lines
The touch lines (side lines) can be a defender's best friend. Try to keep the soccer ball and the opponent near the side line. This makes a goal shot difficult and also gives them less room to maneuver. They may also make a mistake and kick the ball out of bounds.
Clear the ball
When you get to the soccer ball near your own goal and are outnumbered, a good plan is to clear the ball. This is when you just kick the ball away from the goal area as far up field or to the side lines as you can. This will give your team the chance to regroup and set up its defense.
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