Defending Starts at the Top With the Forwards

Always fight hard to win back the ball! - (Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org)

Young soccer players often wish to play striker or forward so they can have the most opportunities to score goals.  Yes, goal scoring can be a thrilling and rewarding prospect, and surely goals are the vital moment of any soccer game, but too many strikers refuse to help out in defending, and such a lame way of playing will definitely hurt your team.  Here are some reasons why any team’s forwards should be working hard to defend in addition to orchestrating goal-scoring chances.

Your team needs to have the ball in order to score goals.  That is a fact.  When your opponent has the ball, they are more likely to score a goal.  Don’t let them hang onto the ball for too long or else they will be scoring goals.  As a forward, get in the action and help your team win the ball back.

Defensive pressure works best as a team unit, not with individual players. Yes, the defenders earn their positional title because they are the team’s back line, but the entire team needs to be working hard to prevent the opposition from scoring.  That means you too, super star forward!

Forwards who maintain strong defensive pressure make excellent goal-scoring opportunities for themselves as well.  Because of your advanced position on the soccer field, if you are to win the ball from a center back, there is a good possibility that you will have a clean breakaway and a golden chance to score.

Defensive pressure up top is an excellent way to force mistakes from the other team too.  As they nervously pass the ball around the back, pressure from your team’s forwards can force a player into making a mistake or hurry them into sending an errant pass right to your team.  Opportunistic teams latch onto these moments and score goals.  Not only does this give your team another point, but it absolutely crushes the confidence of your opponent.

Also, consider how any traditional attack in soccer is started.  Players retrieve the ball in defense and prod their way up the field with passes.  If you allow a team to gently move the ball around the back, they will build an attack with confidence and find an easy way to your goal. If every player faces immediate pressure upon receiving a ball, they will have limited time to find openings and instigate their attack.  More likely, someone will mess up and your team will regain possession.  If your forwards are engaged in this defensive duty, your team will have the vast majority of possession and opportunities.

Strikers and forwards will also have other instances when they absolutely need to be in front of their own goal making defensive plays.  During opposing free kicks or corner kicks, defending becomes an entire team effort and surely requires defensive prowess from all players for any team to succeed.  Additionally, when your team is defending a slim lead at the end of a match, you forwards need to drop back and help defend.  Either way, don’t ignore the responsibilities of defending, at any position on the field, because a strong defensive unit is often the side that wins.


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