What Is The Soccer Defender Position – Parents’ Guide

A soccer team’s strength lies in its ability to defend and repel the opponent from scoring goals. Today’s post will be about the soccer defender position. For parents who are not familiar with the soccer defender position, this article should help you understand it better.

Many parents and kids dream of being in the forward positions where they can score goals and be seen as heroes. However, being a defender is equally important to the team’s success.

That is why it is important to have strong and skillful defenders in the team and most of all it is a position that can be fun to play in. In this post we are going to cover the following topics:

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The Soccer Defender Position

Depending on the number of players in your kid’s soccer team, there can be 1 to 4 defenders playing in the defense. And they normally form a line in front of their team’s goalmouth and they guard against the opponents from scoring.

The defense line also relieves some pressure off the goalkeeper who is the last line of defense for the team. Basically, there are the right-back and left-back defenders who defend the right and the left side of the goal respectively.

And then there is the central defender who stands directly in front of the goalkeeper. Other coaches may put another defender called the sweeper standing directly between the central defender and the goalkeeper.

But that is only for teams more than 12 years old and are fielding 11 players which is the maximum allowed in soccer. The defenders play very deep in their own half. Traditionally, defenders wear jersey numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5.

In the diagram below, the 3 defenders are colored purple.

Soccer Defender Position - Defender position diagram

The Roles Of A Soccer Defender

The primary role of the defenders is to stop the opponent from scoring any goals.

However, below is a list of their roles:

  • Defend the opponents from scoring goals.
  • Link up with the midfielder and forwards
  • Assist the goalkeeper by taking goal-kicks and free-kicks
  • Taking throw-ins for the team

The defenders’ role is to defend the opponents from scoring goals. They did this by marking the opponent players, therefore, making it difficult for them to receive a pass to score.

Defenders also contest for the ball with the opponent and making intercepts and stealing the ball away. When the opponent puts too much pressure the defender can simply kick the ball away so that they can regroup.

If there is a free kick close to the goal the defenders will form a wall to block the shot or make it difficult for the kicker to kick straight into the goal.

In 11-v-11 soccer the defenders can set up the off-side trap that can force the opponent off-side. This will cause a lot of frustration for the opponent.

Defenders are the link between the goalkeeper the midfielder, the striker, and the wingers. When they get the ball from the opponents, they pass it forward to stage a counter-attack.

Defenders also assist in taking the goal kick, free kicks, and throw-ins.

When the defenders worked together by communicating with each other, and the goalkeeper, they can be formidable and make scoring goals difficult for the opponent.

Below is the definition from Wikipedia:

Definition of soccer defender

How To Be A Good Defender

Imagine if your kid’s team scored 3 goals but due to poor defense they also conceded 3 goals or even more. On the other hand, if they have a good defense the opponent may not score that much and your kid’s team came out the winner.

A good defender needs to possess the following character:

  • Strong and aggressive
  • Calm

Being strong and aggressive makes a defender brave to make tackles and win the ball during a contest. The defender can use his or her body weight to secure the ball, block shots, and intimate opponents.

When playing with a calm head, the defender does not make rash decisions when attacking. Fouls committed by the defenders can be very costly because a free kick or a penalty will be awarded.

If the defender makes a decision he or she must be committed to it. The following skills are also very important:

  • Kicking and passing skills
  • Speed and agile
  • Teamwork and communication
Soccer Defender Position-girls-soccer

A good defender must possess kicking and passing skills so he or she can send the ball accurately to the forwards. When under pressure the defender can kick the ball back into the opponent’s territory so that his or her team can regroup.

The defender must also be fast and agile. The opponent’s forwards and strikers are fast and they can outrun any defender that is not quick or fit.

The occasional tackling and hassling of the opponent can cause injuries so it is important that a defender must do the speed and agility drills. Soccer is a team sport so teamwork and communication are crucial to the success of the team.

Defenders must work together and communicate with the goalkeeper and the forwards. This is important when there is a free kick close to the goal.

The defenders must listen to the goalkeeper’s instructions so that they can form a defensive wall effectively.

Gear For A Defender

Defenders run and made a lot of tackles, therefore, they need gear that helps them perform and to protect themselves from injuries.


1. Soccer cleats

The soccer cleats need to be durable, have good traction on the ground, and be comfortable.

When it comes to durability I mean they don’t tear easily during a tackle and when stepped on so they protect the feet from injuries. Good cleats nowadays are made of synthetic leather, mesh, or both.

Look for firm ground (FG) cleats that have plastic molded studs that are evenly positioned. There are various types of stud configurations in the market but metal studs are generally not allowed.

Studs help in providing traction on the ground and balance when your kid is running. Also, look for cleats that have comfortable insoles and linings to avoid blisters and bruising on the feet.

John Tery, A Central Defender Closely Marking Drogba
John Terry, A Central Defender Closely Marking Drogba


2. Shin guards

The shin guards should be able to protect the shins and the ankles.

For beginners, it is best to wear ankle shin guards although they can limit movements a little.

3. Other Gear

Shorts and shirts are also important.

Nowadays they are made of nylon materials and they have some advantages:

  • Lightweight and stretchable
  • Moisture-wicking, meaning they do not hold moist or sweat
  • Durable

The sock is also required to cover the shin guard and some protection to the legs.

Famous Soccer Defenders


The soccer defenders played a very important role in defending against attacks from the opposing team.

A good defense team communicates with the goalkeeper, midfielder, winger, and striker.

And most of all, they communicate with each other because a lot of goals are scored the defenders are disorganized.

With the right skills and some boldness, the team is well secured.

Related: 13 Best Soccer Training Equipment For Kids

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