Was at training the other day and while we were doing attacker vs defender drills, the coach gave a tip. One that really struck a chord with me. He shared, after witnessing some really calamitous defending, that when defending against a 1-on-1, a defender has 3 priorities:
1. First priority: Slow the attacker down.
2. Second priority: Shepherd the attacker to the side of your choice.
3. Third priority: Dispossess him
Defender #21 is doing a good job keeping #20 at bay, allowing his team mates to track back to support
Most of us make the mistake of trying to do point 3 first. Especially for Centrebacks, slowing down the attack and allowing your defence to regroup is priority. A mistimed tackle with inadequate backup will give fleet footed attackers the opportunity to get past you and a free shot on goal.
I like point 2. It differentiates an elite amateur footballer from the rest. Identify the attacker’s master foot, as well as your own. Then decide if you want to show him the outside channel, or the inside channel. Conventional teaching tells us to always show the attacker the outside. But experience tells me forcing the attacker to utilise his non master side can be just as effective.
Chip is seen here getting past his marker on the latter’s inside channel and onto his master foot
Eg. As a right footed LB marking a very right footed winger, instead of letting him charge down the byline to cross with his stronger foot, close down that option and make him cut inside you. With the ball on his weaker left, his options are limited due to his lack of mastery. It’s also easier for you to cut in between the attacker and the ball, using your body as a shield, then take the ball away from him using the outside of your master foot.
Some of these practices come instinctively to those gifted with natural footballing brains. But for the rest of us, remembering the sequence of the 3 priorities will help us become better defensive players.
NB: This content was generously contributed by famed football writer Boonadine Limdane. To read more of his articles, please go to 4short1long.blogspot.sg