10 Tips for Center Backs (Defenders)

Wouldn’t it be great if every aspiring center back would be like John Terry, Bonucci, or even Carles Puyol?

These are just some of the best center backs {#4 and #5} we have seen on the pitch. They have excellent defending prowess because they have spent many years training hard to improve their skills.

A lot of aspiring defenders are very good during training, but the fear of failure makes them forget what they trained. Luckily, here is a great post by Soccer Psychology Tips to help you be relaxed before a game.

But we are not here to discuss what you should do to overcome your fear of failure. Rather, I’m here to help you become the new Sergio Ramos on the pitch. That said, here are 10 Tips for Center Backs (Defenders).

1. Understand your job

First things first, you are at the back, but do you know what is expected of you? Since you are the last man, you must have the ability to read the game and also sense any possible danger. A good Center Back {CB} must be able to track the striker’s run and also keep an eye on the delivery.

2. Aggression is Key

Good defenders are fearless when they need to make a strong tackle. They will use their whole body to block shots and disrupt an attack. You have to be very aggressive when playing so that your opponents will be afraid to receive the soccer ball. This might sound weird, but the aim is to make the opposing team fear you. Just watch how Pepe plays to see how aggressive a real CB should be.

3. Partner with Other Players

Even if you want to be the immovable powerhouse at the back, you can never work alone. You should work freely with other defenders and midfielders to make it easy to defend. Always coordinate to mark the players and execute a perfect offside trap. Thought Co posted a helpful article to help defenders master the offside trap technique.

4. Clear that ball

Most of the aspiring defenders make the mistake of passing the ball to their defenders and goalkeeper, especially in a high-pressure situation. Instead, you should clear the ball to keep it away from your goalkeeper. There are always three options;

  1. Kick it in the field,
  2. Kick it out for a throw-in; though this should be far from your goal
  3. Kicking it out for a corner.

Also, keep in mind that a good clear allows your team to regroup.

5. Interrupt the dribble early

Have you seen how Messi cuts through some defenders so easily? It’s because those defenders give him an easy job. They make it comfortable for him to dribble and create holes in the defense. However, you should be like Sergio Ramos by setting the tempo early and preventing a player from beating you. Try hard to steal the ball and stop the dribble early enough.

Giorgio Chiellini - Tips for Defenders
Giorgio Chiellini – one of the best Center Backs.

6. Don’t give them a chance to shoot

Other than stopping the opposing team to shoot, you should not let them shoot. Some midfielders and attackers have a good shooting accuracy; so you should do your best to the opposing team from setting up a shot.

7. Be strong and pacy

Most of the attackers are naturally fast, and that is why most defenders fail at stopping them. For that, you should be aware of the physical demands as a CB. See that you are physically strong and quick as well. That will need you to hit the gym and train hard on your speed.

8. Have a good aerial prowess

Have you noticed that most of the corners are scored by defenders, and specifically center backs? Sergio Ramos is one of them. Well, the secret to this is being good in the air. Some attackers like Alvaro Morata are beasts in the air, and they can easily score if the center back doesn’t have good aerial skills. For that, train hard at being good in the air. Here is a post by Soccer Xpert to help you improve your heading skills.

9. Be accurate with your passes

While it is not always wise to pass the ball to your fellow defender in high-pressure situations, you might have to pass the ball in open circumstances. For that, train hard to enhance your passing accuracy. It can lead to your team scoring a goal.

10. Overlap and cover

Since you’ll be coordinating with your wingbacks, you should cover each other when one of you runs upfield. Also, try to overlap or run down the sidelines whenever your winger has the ball. This way, you’ll always be open and give the chance for the wingback to pass the ball back or push it forward. If the opposing players pressure your wingback, be ready to step in and help him out.

Consistent training is the main thing that will help you become a complete and better center back. Always take your training seriously. Check out this post by Four Four Two to see how Rio Ferdinand became a world-class center back. Soccer Training Methods also gives further tips for a #4 and #5.


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