How to Play Sweeper in Soccer

If you're serious about playing, then you need to know how to play sweeper in soccer. In soccer, the sweeper plays a critical role in a diamond-defense formation. Learning how to play sweeper in soccer necessitates knowledge of individual responsibility and how to effectively work with two outside backs and a stopper.

  1. Know the role. When learning how to play sweeper in soccer, it is important to know that this position is the last line of defense between the opposition and your goalkeeper. If a striker gets by the sweeper, it’s likely one-on-one with the keeper.
  2. Know the formation. Understand that in a diamond formation the sweeper plays directly behind the stopper and in between the outer backs.
  3. Know the movement. Note that the sweeper’s role largely necessitates patrolling horizontally along the defensive wall. Knowing how to play sweeper in soccer will mean moving up and down field as the run of play moves, but largely staying back, tracking horizontally and staying in the center of the field.
  4. Pinch opponent’s angles. A key element of learning how to play sweeper in soccer is knowing how to direct the opposition away from the center of the field: especially the center of the penalty box. If a player is attacking from the left side of the penalty box, the sweeper would be positioned just inside, making space for the player to move towards the touchline but giving no room to cut closer inside to goal.
  5. Defend against dribbling. Learning how to play sweeper in soccer means being able to defend the dribble. If an opponent is a superior dribbler, giving that player too much space to move might cost your team a goal. Mark or attack the player closely.  
  6. Beware of the through ball. Dealing with midfielders passing balls through your defense to a quick striker poses real problems. In addition to closing off the striker’s angle towards the center of the field, the sweeper will have to contend with someone who is purely faster. In this case, anticipation will play a role. As a pass is delivered, move towards and slightly bump into the striker, then run back for the ball. This will knock the striker off balance temporarily, giving the sweeper the advantage.
  7. Don’t mark an opponent. To learn how to play sweeper in soccer it will be important to understand that marking an opponent man-to-man is only a last choice tactic. The sweeper must attack the ball, being the rear guard, and this will mean leaving the marked opponent open.
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