Youth Soccer Defense


The most important component in youth soccer defense is to limit the field space that the offensive team can work with. Your strategy should be to push your opponents into a tight group where you can more easily cause a turnover and go on the counterattack. It is important to be aware of any open spaces or lanes where an opposing player can break to and accept a pass.

The most effective strategy is to force the attacking team to the outside along the sidelines and then forming a “box” on the other three sides to pen in your opponent. Some soccer defensive plays are described below, but you can also find more information like free youth soccer defensive skills & drills online at sites like Remember, defense wins championships.

Youth Soccer Defense

There are three lines of soccer defense that a defending team must be aware of in order to effectively close down an attack. The defending soccer players must be able to quickly recognize whether they are a first, second, or third defender in every situation.

The first line of soccer defense is the player closest to the opponent with the ball. Their job is to contain the player and prevent them from moving the soccer ball forward. All players should be adept at pressuring their opponent without getting caught out of position and giving up territory. Don’t try to do too much, just contain the player and have confidence that the second line of defense will be doing their jobs.

The second line of soccer defense is those players nearest the ball but not actively part of the play. Their job is to watch for opposing players breaking into open positions to receive a pass. They should also be adept at reading plays and be ready to intercept a pass. This second line should be trying to limit the space that the attacking team can work with by forming a tight box.

The third line of soccer defense includes the soccer goalkeeper, the defense, and the sweeper. Their task is to shut down long passes and fast breaks. They must be adept at restricting the maneuverability of offensive players by closing any spaces quickly. With the offside rule, the defense can move forward and tighten up the box that you’re attempting to push the offense into thereby preventing in close scoring chances.

Most importantly, teach your defensive youth soccer players to never give up on the play. The offense is going to try to throw you off your game with deceptive offensive soccer attacking plays. Always be aware and be on the lookout for a give-and-go or a fast break and shut the opponent down before they have a chance to attack.

By Trevor A. Sumner who works for, a youth soccer community dedicated to providing parents, coaches and athletes the tools and information to celebrate the love of the game. has one of the most comprehensive, free soccer drill libraries in its active soccer community.