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4 Reasons You Should Encourage Your Child to be a Defender

Typically, everyone wants to score goals when they play football. As such, it’s no surprise that most kids want to be a forward. Young footballers idolise the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Salah, Mbappé, etc. but what about the Chiellini’s and van Dijk’s of this world?

Being a defender isn’t always the most glamorous prospect, but here are 4 reasons why you should encourage your child to give some tough tackling a go.

Less competition for places

Defending isn’t as popular as attacking…and that can be a good thing. Particularly for younger children, scoring goals can be the be all and end all. That means everyone wants to play up front and no one wants to do the defending.

If your child is keen on a bit of defending, however, they will automatically have less competition for their position. Less competition means more game time, and more game time will allow them to develop faster.

Lots of different roles

Being a defender isn’t as basic as tackling and clearing. There are loads of different roles a defender can fulfill, each with different expectations and requiring different skills.

Possible defensive positions include:

  • Centre-back

A central defender and often the last line of defence before the goalkeeper. Centre-backs either operate as a pair or as a three in an 11-a-side game.

  • Full-back (left or right)

‘Full-back’ is the collective term for a left-back and a right-back. These players operate down one side of the pitch, most commonly flanking a pair of centre-backs. Full-backs are often required to get up and down the pitch, contributing to attacks by providing crosses.

  • Wing-back (left or right)

Much like full-backs, wing-backs also operate on the flanks but are more attacking than a standard full-back. This position exists when there are three centre-backs.

  • Defensive/holding midfielder

Not strictly a defender, defensive or holding midfielders have a higher starting position but are expected to perform defensive duties like marking, tackling, and intercepting.

Some players can play in multiple defensive positions, but often these positions require very different types of players. Consider whether your child may thrive in a particular role.

Requires different skill sets

As you may have guessed from the variation of positions and roles above, being a defender can require various skill sets. However, all good defenders have a few skills in common.

These skills include:

  • Tackling
  • Intercepting
  • Defensive positioning
  • Heading
  • Clearing

If your child is particularly strong in one or more of these areas, encouraging them to be a defender may be a good idea.

You don’t have to be a defender forever

If your child isn’t convinced about being a defender, remind them that this isn’t permanent. There is nothing wrong with trying out a new position to see if it suits you.

There is an endless list of high-profile footballers who have changed positions during their careers. If your child still needs some convincing, here’s a list of players who chose to try their hand at a new position and didn’t look back:

Changed During Youth

  • Gianluigi Buffon – central midfielder to goalkeeper
  • Fernando Torres – goalkeeper to striker
  • Thibaut Courtois – left-back to goalkeeper
  • Kurt Zouma – right-winger to centre-back
  • David de Gea – striker to goalkeeper

Changed During Senior Career

  • Thierry Henry – winger to striker
  • Gareth Bale – left-back to winger
  • N’Golo Kanté – winger to central midfielder
  • Bastian Schweinsteiger – winger to central midfielder
  • Vincent Komapny – central midfielder to centre-back
  • Sergio Ramos – right-back to centre-back

Bottom Line

If your child is keen on improving their defending and learning football the Brazilian way, why not consider Samba Soccer Schools?

For more information about Samba Soccer Schools, click here.


How do you introduce defending to your child?

Relay some of the information in this article and help them understand why defending may be for them.

How can I improve my child’s soccer skills?

Samba Soccer Schools is a great place to develop your child’s skills and confidence in a fun and friendly environment.

How do I get my child interested in defending?

YouTube is always a great place to start. Show your child a few highlight reels of great tackles to pique their interest.

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