Defending is one of the most tasking roles a player can be saddled with on the football pitch. The position of defender requires physical and mental fitness to withstand the attacking forays of your opponents. Every soccer coach doesn’t joke with this position because they know it can make or mar their team’s chances.
Like the saying in football goes; “goals win you games, but defense wins you tournaments”. Here are the list of qualities coaches look out for when selecting defensive players.
This is a no-brainer. Coaches want their players to be strong on and off the ball. Managers look for players with physical dominance who can withstand constant attacks from their opponents for the duration of the game. Defenders need physical strength and endurance when going into the tackle or trying to win a 50/50 ball. Strong defenders are usually able to protect their goalkeeper because they dominate and bully the opposition.
The best defenders are usually big guys who are effective in marking out opposing forwards. It’s not necessary that all your defenders must be giants but the size advantage tends to give a team leverage when defending set-pieces or corner kicks. Huge defenders also tend to intimidate the opposition forwards, who will think twice before facing them.
Good in the air
One of the attributes any aspiring defender must have is that you should be good at jumping in the air to nod balls away. This requires that you have good elevation when you jump, together with good ball heading skills and ball anticipation. This skill comes in handy when defending aerial threats and attacking the opponent’s penalty box during corner kicks.
No single coach likes a stationary centre-back. Great defenders have some appreciable level of pace to enable them to deal with fast counterattacks and speedy forwards.
Positioning and Tackling
Many of the best defenders have this uncanny knack for anticipating and cutting off danger through excellent position and smooth tackling. Top defenders are usually able to analyze the space around them, enabling them to know where to stand to snuff out danger. The best centre-backs usually make the right decision when it comes to judging when and how to tackle.
Most defenders in the modern game are now required to have ball-playing skills. This will them be able to pass out from the back and sometimes make runs into the opposition half when trying to beat the press.
This is one quality that every coach looks out for in soccer tryouts. Coaches love defenders that can organize their backline, sense and snuff out danger, and generally lead and inspire their teammates.