How To Play A Marking Defender In Soccer
Defenders are the final obstacle before an opposing offense is one-on-one with your goalkeeper. One way defenders control their opponents is through marking. A fundamental part of every defender’s strategy, learning how to play a marking defender in soccer is critical to your teams success.
- Understand the definition. Learning how to play a marking defender in soccer means one defender shadows a specific opponent anytime they come into their area of the field. Sometimes, it may also mean trailing an opponent anywhere they move on the field, whether left, right or center.
- Know which players mark. When learning how to play a marking defender in soccer it should be noted that not everyone on the field is likely to be marking someone. Outside defenders are often tasked with the role of marking specific opponents. The sweeper position, for example, is more of a roaming position and plays in a specific zone.
- Limit your opponents space. When practicing to play a marking defender in soccer, giving an opponent too much room to dribble can get you into trouble. Play close to the mark’s feet whenever possible when they have the ball to obstruct their movement. Mark your opponent tightly, within a couple of feet.
- Angle opponents away from the center of the field. A central role of learning how to play a marking defender in soccer entails angling opponents toward the touchlines. When your mark dribbles towards you, position yourself in between the mark and the goal-slightly inside of the opponent. This gives them space to move down the flank, not inside.
- Respect the speed. When learning how to play a marking defender in soccer it is very important to respect an opponent’s speed. If they are faster than you, there will be times when marking to closely will mean being losing a sprint to a through pass and a threat on goal. Anticipate these passes by stepping off another foot away. Or, if you are caught too close to your mark, bump into them first, knocking them off-balance, and then sprint for the ball.
- Use your hands. Sometimes players will be asked to mark an opponent because they are simply a superior player. In this case, learning how to play a marking defender in soccer means disrupting their rhythm in any way you can without drawing a card. While marking closely, use your hands to your advantage by lightly pushing or pulling. Pulling is especially useful against quicker opponents-just make sure your hand is pulling on the opposite side of where the referee is positioned.
Jones, Robyn. Tranter, Tom. Soccer Strategies: Defensive and Attacking Tactics. Reedswain, 1999