Defending. Do you watch the man or the ball?

Eternaloptimist

Well-known member
I’ve never played football (except at school) so would be interested what the amateur players on here think about defending.
I’ve noticed a few times that some defenders will look at the ball when faced with an attacker and them some will look at the player.
Surely looking at the player would be the best option because you can read their body language.
If you are coaching young kids what would the advice be?
 

Lala

Well-known member
I’ve never played either but would just focus on the knees down 🥴
The rest is probably still in your peripheral view anyway with some awareness of it.
 

Hazi

Well-known member
I’ve never played football (except at school) so would be interested what the amateur players on here think about defending.
I’ve noticed a few times that some defenders will look at the ball when faced with an attacker and them some will look at the player.
Surely looking at the player would be the best option because you can read their body language.
If you are coaching young kids what would the advice be?
Always the feet for me
 

tangerine_neil

Well-known member
Logical thing is to allocate a suitable player pre kick off to mark. This would change with subs, and instructions from the touch line or captain. Match physical attributes, eg height & speed. Basically pick a big bloke to mark their big bloke, and then watch the ball.
This zonal marking cràp is absolute nonsense.
 

Mark_GT

Well-known member
I was a big galoot defender mostly, so I'd always pick another big galoot to mark man for man in the hope that he'd be as slow as me 😗
 

Raging_Bull

Well-known member
The man, the ball never score's the man does!! I always said to defenders watch the man, the ball, the man, the ball, but always mark the man as he will do the scoring.
 

midfield general

Well-known member
You watch the ball, it's possetion of the ball that is important to win games.
It is one of the things of modern football that really annoys me when you see a defender ( marking) a player at a corner or free kick and he's got his back to the ball not even bothered where the ball is going, but he will do everything to stop his opponent getting to the ball rather than trying to win the ball.
 

Kip

Well-known member
You do a bit of both. You need to have an awareness of where your man is but you don't need to put both arms around him to achieve that.

We seem to do the half-half zonal thing where the big guys take a zone and smaller guys man-mark. Trouble with zonal marking is that if the attacking team by-pass the zone then you're struggling like yesterday with Husband/Williams marking Dunk/Webster(?). I don't really like zonal marking. One of the supposed benefits is to be able to attack better from winning the ball but most teams bring everybody back anyway. For me, zonal marking puts an emphasis on having to win the ball rather than just defending it.

But plenty of world-class coaches swear by it so what the hell do I know. We have definitely improved on set piece defending though as the season has progressed.
 

62years&counting

Well-known member
Don't ball watch excessively or exclusively. Stay with your man but be aware of where the ball is and what's going on around you. If your opponent is attacking you with the ball, watch his feet and try to move him away from the danger area / goal.
 
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