Defending Principles of Play apply when the opposition has the ball, and will work regardless of the position that the ball is on the field.

There are five principles that govern play when you are defending:

  1. Delay
  2. Depth
  3. Balance
  4. Concentration
  5. Control/Restraint

Role of the 1st defender (The defender closest to the ball and usually goal side):

  1. Must focus on the ball and the 1st attacker
  2. Wins the ball or delays penetration
  3. Stops or delays the opponent playing the ball forward
  4. Reduces the opponent space by applying pressure quickly
  5. Show the opponent the way that the 1st defender wants the attacker to go
  6. Applies a tackle to the opponent when there are supporting defenders
  7. Stays on their feet in a balanced and ready state, focussing on the ball


Role of the 2nd Defender(s) (the players in the immediate vicinity of the 1st defender):

  1. to provide a a supporting role and to help the first defender by cover and support quickly
  2. To prevent the ball to be played forward between his/herself and the first defender
  3. May have to mark the supporting attackers.
  4. Note the 1st attacks body shape which will dictate where the 2nd defender should concentrate the support.
  5. Always looking to apply double pressure to the player with the ball
  6. Apply pressure to the next opponent that is able to receive the ball
  7. The supporting defender(s) should be in constant communication with the 1st defender, letting them know of any dangers, or options that the 1st defender is unaware of.



Role of the 3rd Defender(s) (other defenders that are away from the immediate playing area):

  1. Provide concentration, mobility and communication.
  2. Provide a supporting role to the 1st and 2nd defenders
  3. Tracking down opponents that are making forward runs
  4. Do not allow opponents to get goal side of them
  5. Always prepared to balance the defense
  6. Always prepared to become 1st or 2nd Defenders INSTANTLY
  7. Always scanning the field and supplying communication
  8. Always looking for interceptions
  9. Always looking to apply pressure to the next player that is able to receive the ball

    Have a look at the video below to see how the basic mechanical movement of this works defending together as a team.

    To finish up Sami Hypia gives a quick lesson about reading the game (from a defenders point of view) and even a very relevant quote from Johan Cruyff.

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