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Mastering the Five Defending Positions

Anders Giske
Anders Giske

Football is a game that is unpredictable and fast moving.

This means that players have to constantly adapt their movements according to what happens on the pitch without a moment’s hesitation. This involves using what is known as open skills. When defenders encounter an attacker in a 1v1 situation, there are five recognised defensive positions available to them.

Defensive position is the name we give to the ready position, the stance the player takes to try and defend against an attack.
Tactically, players should attempt to choose the defensive position that is best aligned with the situation, their own skills, strengths and weaknesses and those of their opponent’s.
As such, it’s important that players know what each of the defending positions are and their associated strengths and weaknesses so they can consciously or unconsciously adopt the best position to defend the goal during a fast-moving game.
Your position in relation to the attacking player is important. The position can be defined in various ways. In practice, it is often referred to as “rear”, “front”, “obliquely”, or “on the side”. The position also has a direct influence on the defending position that is appropriate for the situation.

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Let’s take a look at the 5 defending positions.

1. Frontal Defending Position
2. Side-on Defending Position
3. Slanted Defending Position
4. Reverse Defending Position
5. Chase Defending Position

1. Frontal Defending Position

frotalThe frontal defending position is the most offensive technique and it puts the attacker under the greatest pressure.

The main objective of this tactic is to win the ball through a well-executed tackle or to place an attacker under sufficient pressure that they make a mistake.

To execute this strategy, you should run straight on the attacker, stop an appropriate distance away from the player (too close and you’ll be beaten with no time to recover, too far and the player will have the time and space to pass the ball to a teammate) head on in the frontal defending position.


  • It gives you good control over the width direction (if you master the crossover step).
  • It allows you to tackle on both sides.
  • It allows you to blocking shots on both sides.


  • It is difficult to achieve and maintain balance in this position.
  • You may find it difficult to move backwards smoothly and effectively, especially when the attacker challenging you.
  • You may find it challenging to turn effective and defend the space behind you (if your working conditions are bad).

Best for: The frontal defending position is well suited to tackling, blocking shots and forcing (pressing) the attacker to pass the ball backwards. For example, it’s ideal for tall players with great range, centre backs who want to block any shots in front of your goal, or for forwards to prevent a (long) pass after losing the ball.

More Information about Football Defence

3. Slanted Defending Position

Slanted Defending PositionThe slanted defending position (45 degree) is a combination of the frontal and side-on defending positions. The objective of this tactic is to win the ball by tackling on one side of your opponent or running with the attacker on the other.

To execute this position, you run straight at the attacker, close one side, get into the slanted defending position and get ready for a duel.


  • It gives you good control of the diagonal direction.
  • The technique is suitable in many situations.
  • You can lead attackers in the direction you want.


  • You are vulnerable when the attacker plays a “nutmeg”.
  • Turning to the weaker side is often challenging (especially if the quality of your Leg, Feet and Torso position is deficient) if the attacker, for example, dribbles or plays a wall pass.
  • It’s often challenging to find and maintain the right position, which is crucial to mastering this technique.

Best for:
This is a useful and versatile technique for all players, it’s especially important for defenders because it is an ideal technique for leading attacking players away from your goal or forcing them to dribble or finish with their weaker foot.

Read the complete system of football defence here

The Ultimate Guide to Football Defence Skills – The Techniques the World’s Best Defenders Use to Stop the Other Team Scoring


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