When I was playing soccer I was really struggling with fast defenders! Indeed, I wasn’t the fastest out there so I always had to compensate with some dribbling techniques to be able to overcome these kinds of players and create scoring opportunities …
… In this article I share my best tips to beat any fast defender with ease!
Hopefully, you will find that useful.
Develop these attributes first!
Dribbling ability is simply the skill of keeping the control over the ball while moving around the field. Players that are good at it may use this attribute to keep the possession over the ball, and not allowing defenders to take it, no matter how fast they are.
Endurance can help you endure duels with defenders. If you can keep your body balance and ball control after being tackled and under pressure from defenders, they will not be in position to take advantage of their speed.
If they are faster than you are, you will not be able to outrun them, but you will keep the ball if you use your body and shield the ball.
Anticipation of the play is one of the key skills of successful soccer players. If you have superior ability to read the play of your opponents and their movement, or to predict where your teammate will send the ball before the defenders do, you can start your run sooner than they can.
That way, you will be in a better position to get to the ball sooner and neutralize their speed advantage.
Being better at decision making will allow you to make quick and reliable decisions with the ball. If you analyze the ball position and position of defenders before the ball comes to you, you will be able to continue the play and send the ball faster than your opponents can react.
No matter how fast defenders are, the ball is faster and making right decisions will allow you to utilize that.
Best moves to beat fast defenders …
1. Marseille Turn
It is the move known also by the names “360”, “the Roulette”, “the Spin”. In the soccer world, if done perfectly and at speed, the move is considered almost impossible to defend against, no matter how fast defenders are.
This is due to the fact that the move includes fast and sudden change of direction, as well as shielding the ball all the time. Some players that perfected it were Zinedine Zidane and Maradona.
It is performed mostly when in the run and luring defenders to get the ball. You put one foot on the ball and pull the ball back.
Then you turn your body for 90 degrees, place the second foot on the ball, and perform the drag with the second foot.
2. Body Feints
This body movement will mislead your opponent in which direction you will make a move. There are several variations of body feints.
These moves will make the defender’s reaction slower, as your opponent will first head in the wrong direction, and now will be in position to make up for the backlog and catch up.
This is a simple but quite effective way to eliminate the element of speed, as you can exploit the space created before the defender reacts.
3. One Touch Dribble
You position your body in a way that makes you ready and open to receive the ball. You actually receive the ball with a foot that is farther from the ball.
With first touch, you push the ball forward instantly making a fast dribble, which can catch your defenders off guard.
Tips and Drills to practice those moves …
To practice Marseille Turn, you should start with Push and Pull practice. This simple drill is actually quite effective for improving close ball control and practicing it will help mastering Marseille Turn later.
The drill consists of pulling the ball with your sole towards you, and then pushing it forward with your upper foot.
That way you will enhance ball technique and get used to controlling the ball with different parts of your foot, especially with your bottom part, which is a key element of Marseille Turn move.
Practicing body feints is also a basic exercise that you can do as a part of every training session. It is an effective move to perform during a game. There are several versions you can practice and all comes to increasing your body agility and movement.
One drill is No Touch Feint, where you position the ball in front of you, close to your feet. You are skipping on your toes and then lunge to one side of the ball, lowering your knee and shoulder.
Return to your original body position, skipping on your toes, and then do it on the other side.
This simple drill also prepares your body to occupy a position from which you can easily make explosive runs into other directions, and escape from faster defenders.
For One touch Dribble, one effective drill is Octagon Drill. You need to set up cones that form the shape of an octagon.
Each space between two cones presents a gate for you to get out with the ball. You position yourself in the middle, while your teammate is passing the ball to you. Your task is to receive the pass and move the ball with first touch through one of the gates.
On escaping an octagon, you play a return pass to your teammate. With the next ball received, you move to the next gate, repeating exercise until completing all eight gates.
This drill will help you to learn how to position your body in a way that is most effective to use empty space with just one touch of the ball.
How to get past a fast defender in soccer if you are slow?
Although being slower is a disadvantage when you want to pass a fast defender, you are not without option for play.
There are several things to keep in mind, which will greatly help you deal with their speed.
Avoid letting fast defender reach his maximum speed. This is extremely important to note. If a defender reaches his top speed, he will be in great advantage over you and will easily cover your movement and pick the ball from your feet.
To prevent this, change direction often and as quick as possible. That way you will be unpredictable to defenders and they will not be in position to use their speed.
Great positioning gives you an advantage. If you are good in positioning that will allow you always to be in superb position in relation to defenders.
That way you will make use of the ball position and use the conditions on the field in your favor. This will put defenders in a subordinate position and make it harder for them to catch you, even if you are slower.
Teach yourself to think strategically and always look for a way to outsmart defenders and position yourself in a superior position when compared to defenders.
Keep the ball close. If you keep the ball close to your feet, you are always in control. You do not want to run around with loose ball, as fast defenders have quick reflexes and will easily take possession.
When the ball is close at your feet, you can keep the control over it in a tight area. Different cone drills and agility ladder may help you improve your leg work and make you better at keeping the ball close.
Lastly, I highly invite you to learn about how important defenders actually are for a soccer team! You will learn some interesting info …
What to do if against more than just one fast defender (1v2 or 1v3)?
If you have more than one defender against you, you are clearly in a tough situation. These kinds of situations require a high level of tactical and technical knowledge.
What you will do depends on the conditions in attack. You must take into account all the factors on the field and make appropriate decisions.
One thing is sure, when you are against 2 or 3 defenders, they will try to surround you and take the ball from you.
Your task here is to hold the ball long enough so your teammates can join the attack, or to look for some empty space to exploit. Keep in mind that defenders will not charge all at the same time on you, as this will create empty space in front of their goal that your teammates may use.
If that happens, you have enough time to pass them the ball, and now your team has the advantage.
More likely scenario is that one defender will be your direct guard and try to take the ball, while the second defender will be directly behind, looking for a right moment to join and take the possession.
Third defender will often be a backup, covering the area to block any pass to teammates, or to tackle you if you outrun other two defenders.
Best way to win in these situations is constantly to change the direction of your movement and the pace.
By changing the speed of your movement and direction, your defenders will be on guard and not sure when to directly attack you. Whenever you make the move on one side, the second defender behind will charge you and they will double on you.
That is why you should move on one side, and then change direction to the other side. Then repeat, but with every move getting a little closer to the goal area.
Due to this constant going backward, before making the move upfront, the second defender will stay behind, waiting for you.
This move will give you enough time to analyze the situation on the field, especially the position of second defender.
When you notice empty space, when dribbling in the backward direction, make a sudden move to the front with the ball, which will catch off guard both defenders, leaving behind your direct marker and lowering their advantage in numbers.
One important dribbling tip here to remember when facing 2 defenders is that when you beat the first one, the defender behind will quickly charge the loose ball and intercept it. In these situations, when passing around the first defender, you must make a bigger touch on the ball and accelerate. That will surprise him and give you a much needed advantage.
The drill that will help you improve your dribbling ability and make these kinds of situations much easier is dribbling around multiple cones.
You place 4 cones forming a square and multiple cones in a middle, scattered randomly. Your task here is to start from one of the four cones, go through the middle, dribbling through scattered cones, and then exit to the next cone in a square but with a bigger touch on the ball and with speed.
Go around that cone, and then again to the middle. This drill will enhance quickness of your dribbling and improve close ball control.
If headed against three defenders, one defender will directly confront you, while two others will wait for their moment to charge on you.
You wish to avoid that situation and not allow the first defender to get close to you. Instead directly to dribble pass him, go around in a wider manner, but in the direction of the middle between two remaining defenders behind first one.
By swinging out and away from individual defender, you force other defender to take the lead. This will create indecision between them and neither of them will feel comfortable to attack you.
As one defender steps toward you, you now adjust your path, in order to cause another defender to step toward you. By constantly modifying your path, you are getting closer to a goal but without any defenders directly confronting you.
Now, you look for a gap between them that their indecisiveness left for you, so you accelerate with one stronger push of the ball between them.
As they were disturbed with your constant change of pace and direction, they will be lagging behind when you start your explosive run, leaving them without a chance to make use of their speed.
Is dribbling your only option?
If you cannot get past a fast defender with dribbling, you have other options too.
First, you can keep possession and wait for help from your teammate. Your teammate can be used as a bait and if he makes a run toward the goal may distract the defender leaving you some empty space to dribble and exploit.
Another option is to play a return pass with your teammate. You cannot dribble around your opponent, but you can play pass with your teammate and then run to empty space, where you will get a return pass and maybe a chance for a shot.
Although you cannot get past a defender, you still may implement a dribbling move that will create some space for you.
One simple move is False Shot, where you make a move in one direction, pretend to take a shot, which will deceive your defender.
Then you make a fast change of direction and you may create a small gap for you to take a shot at the goal or to send the ball to your teammates.
Examples of slow players but great at dribbling!
Dennis Bergkamp was often described as a magician on the field. Although not being the fastest man on the pitch, he was able to dribble through his opponents with such confidence and skill that earned him admiration from fans all around the world.
He put his defenders into a false sense of security, before making a move and score. He was not only technically perfect, but his vision of play was something special.
Andrea Pirlo was a fairly slow player but an amazing playmaker and he could get past his opponents without any attractive dribbling moves.
His main strength was his ability to use his body and to position himself in the best way possible. He is considered as one of the greatest when it comes to shielding the ball.
This allowed him to be patient and wait for the right time to make a move.
Teddy Sheringham is clearly one of the famous soccer players that was a nightmare to his defenders, although being a slow player.
His great technical ability, combined with upper body strength, allowed him to retain possession in the box and hold the ball, lurking for a chance.
Due to his vision of play and ability to read the conditions on the field, he was able to make perfectly timed moves to create additional space for him or for his teammates.
Final Thoughts …
Really hope this article has answered any question you had about his topic! Overcoming fast defenders is not an easy task and could feel quite intimidating …
… However, I really believe that by implementing those techniques I’ve mentioned above you will really overcome that with ease!!
Lastly, if you are interested in both soccer and basketball, then I believe you should check those positions similarities between soccer and basketball! You’ll find it quite useful …