How to be a better defensive midfielder

Defensive midfielder: how to improve

Protect one's own defence, carry out the team's game plan, dictate the game's tempo, etc. The central defender's job has many facets. A brief summary of the qualities required of a good number 6.

Protect one's own defence, carry out the team's game plan, dictate the game's tempo, etc. The central defender's job has many facets. A brief summary of the qualities required of a good number 6.

How to be a better defensive midfielder

Vision - survey the scene

The most important skill to acquire: vision. “Head up!” is one of the most frequently heard exhortations that you'll hear at the club's training sessions, and for good reason - it rarely comes naturally. Very often, you feel the need to look at the ball, as if to reassure yourself that it's still at your feet, etc.

There's only one solution: keep training, practise & continue to practise, until you no longer have the desire to look at your feet. Slowly but surely you'll find it works and, when it does, you'll wonder why you didn't do it before!

The result of this change in your habits is simple, but very effective: the scope of your possibilities for action is widened considerably, which means you get one step ahead of your opponents.

How to be a better defensive midfielder

Develop the busquets technique

I should say this up front - I am not at all a fan of this player's mentality. But he has a quite exceptional technique, based around simplicity, clarity and effectiveness. You will rarely see him do something imprecise or in a hurry, and when you do it is to get his team out of a delicate situation. All his passes are accurate and successful, whether it's just 5 metres or a fully cross-field 50 metres.

So simplify your game as much as possible and concentrate on the basics:

> Touch the ball as little as possible

> Make your pass and then take up a position that offers your team-mates an option

> Play in triangles, with calls and counter calls

How to be a better defensive midfielder

Managing effort to the final metre

One thing is certain, as a midfielder, you'll be doing a lot of running! But if you're already exhausted after just 20 minutes, the rest of the match will be very difficult.

It's all about what's in your head. You'll need to learn to sprint, engage in determined contact with your opponent, then jog or even walk at the right moment.

In addition, avoid getting drawn into all areas of the pitch, although you will sometimes need to cover for team-mates who have moved up into attack or been drawn out of position. Your number 1 action area is the space between the two penalty areas.

How to be a better defensive midfielder

Bonus: positioning

Let's end with a little bonus: positioning. I consider this as a bonus because, if you possess good vision and have an impeccable technique, you will find yourself in the optimum place on the pitch most times quite naturally. And this will be extremely useful in all situations:

> IN DEFENCE where you will be able to block opponents' passes coming from all angles

> IN ATTACK in order to shake off your marker and offer possibilities for your team-mates' passes

I'm even tempted to say that, if you're not the greatest at managing your physical exertion (just like me), it's in your interests to know where to position yourself to minimise the intensity and/or repetition of such exertions.


So, you now have all the cards in your hand to become your team's favourite defensive midfielder!

Co-written with fayçal belmadi, decathlives marketing & communication manager:

I became passionate about football at a young age, to the point that I always knew I wanted to make it my job. I had a cousin who was a pro and played for various European clubs, so I was keen to have similar success, at any cost.

I spent 5 years playing for clubs in and around Lille. Unfortunately, club football was relegated to second place when I started sixth form due to a lack of time and motivation.

I got into 5-a-side some time ago, and I absolutely love it.

You'll find me on the pitch once or twice a week, be it with friends or with my Decathlon team-mates. During the week I also squeeze in some strength/fitness workouts, but if it was entirely up to me, I'd make the day longer so that I could play football every single day!

One more important point about my footballing life: I'm a massive Olympique de Marseille supporter.

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