Defending is a thankless job, and many will make excuses as to why they aren’t good at defending or just say that they don’t care about defending. Whatever the case may be, defending is something I always prided myself on. Defending felt personal and if someone got by me or made me feel dumb, I would make sure to come back the next play and make it my mission not to let that player get another inch
1. Body Positioning
Incorrect body positioning will make defending difficult. Understanding your body and how to move is beneficial because you will be able to keep attacking players in front of you and defending well. What happens most times is defenders have their bodies squared and not on your toes. When defending you need to be side on and on your toes so you can react to the play and being able to change speed and direction easily. At first, this might not be natural, but don't give up, reps are essential.
2. Not diving in
Diving in is something I see all the time with youth players. They feel like they need to win the ball at all times, and because of this, players end up getting beat more and not improving on this skill. Keeping your feet and keeping focus on the ball is what needs to take priority. These two things will allow you to stay patient until there is a bad touch, which is when you can tackle and win the ball. If a lousy touch doesn't occur, remain in the defensive shape and be ready!
3. Forcing players one direction
When you're a defender, you have to understand that you don't have to win the ball every time and it is more effective at times to force players in certain directions. If you continue to try and win the ball ( diving in), you'll never have the opportunity to put this into practice. Forcing players in particular directions makes the play predictable. Making play predicable will allow your teammates to be in better positions to win the ball. Maybe you don't win the ball but you forced the opposing player into a turnover. Defending is about patience, and reading the game. Mistakes will happen, don't let those mistakes define who you are as a player!
4. Having a good mindset
Being good at defending is all about mindset. Having the mindset of taking things personal on the field. Holding yourself accountable and making it your priority to not get beat cheaply and being a tough defender. Being tough and physical early in the game is a way to get under the attackers skin. Let them know it is going to be a long day and you're going to do everything in your power to strong and courageous. This is what it takes to be a great defender. It is a difficult position, and only some want it bad enough to be great. But, if you dedicate yourself and prepare, you'll find defending to be rewarding.