brick wall

How To Find A Defender: Check His Pockets And Watch His Legs

Excerpt From my new upcoming eBook…

Picking Your Soccer Team: Your Dream Team is Another Coach’s Nightmare

Two Basic Types of Defenders

There are two types of defenders you need if you intend to build a brick-wall defense. These kids work on different terms; both types find pleasure from other children’s mistakes but to a different outcome. One enjoys stealing the ball and blasting it away down the field. The other can only feel alive while having a-go at attempted murder, and if the ball gets loose, “that’s ok, too.”
How we populate our teams with these players is key. There must be a balance of the two. If we have a high concentration of one type, there will either be too many random kicks down field, or referees will only take so many homicides (about three per half) before they reach their moral limit. But, a well-paid undertaker can negotiate wiggle room.


Crazy-Legs enjoys dropping havoc on the delicate mind of an adolesent ball-runner. They thrive on slowing down the offender, dropping into a low body position, and then flailing, swinging, and whipping the dang ball out from under their opponent, legs and all. These muchachos find their identity in being a nuisance to the offense. Deep in their violence-loving hearts, they find thrill from the hatred and jeering directed towards them from the other team’s parents losing their vicarious minds on the sideline.
Crazy-Legs’s powers are otherworldly. I’ve seen them, literally, work the ball loose from a player’s feet without ever touching the player or the soccer ball. They said, “Nope,” and abandoned their goal-scoring ambitions.
There’s something hypnotizing in the rhythm (or lack thereof) of the Crazy-Legs’s dance that disarms their victims and confuses a young child’s weak ability to make solid decisions.
Now for the good news: this category of children can be easy to spot at tryouts. Just put them into a defensive one-on-one to see if they have the moves. Pay close attention to what they do when a ball-handler is coming their way.
(Australian voice) “Watch as the ball-runner has a go across the field. Oh no! Lookie there! Here comes the infamous creature, an actual Crazy-Legs in the wild. What’s this? The ball-runner seems to have been delayed. Crazy-Legs has begun his ritual tap dance routine in front of the poor, scared child. Look at him go!”
Crazy-Legged players enjoy moving their feet as fast as possible. Their signature move involves making quick steps in a many directions to prevent the ball-carrier from picking an open pass or running route. This move resembles a child that has “apparently“ recieved the holy-ghost in only his lower torso. He looks like a professional chicken-chaser. You’ll want to have a fire extinguisher nearby in the event his feet from reaching maximum velocity. Recreational directors frown on this type of liability.
These kids make great defenders for beginner soccer teams, and you’ll need one for each side of the field.


You can also discover the second defender personality with minimal effort. A good sweeper keeps his body movements contained, and likely carries a sharp object in his pocket. With his age in mind, it’s likely a homemade shiv the kid has sharpened in his dad’s garage before heading to practice. Somewhere in his life, a coach has told this kidthat as long as you touch the ball before contacting the player, “anything goes.” Lucky for you, this felon took this advice literally.
Most sweepers will abuse the legal freedoms given when standard law-and-order practices are overlooked during a soccer match. It’s your job to locate and include them in your coaching strategy.
***Disclaimer***: If during tryouts, you hear player-on-player thuds and children’s bodies thrashing against the ground after a tackle, check your surroundings for the kid in the crowd who enjoyed this physical punishment more than they should. Then ask the kid what they in their pockets. If he shows off his homemade prison-shank, remove the object from his possession. Remind him that stabbing someone is illegal, but ruining another player’s career with an aggressive slide-tackle is acceptable if you touch the ball before the victim.

Basic Attributes of a Great Defender

  • A defender respects the complexities of being on offense and decides that being an enforcer is a less complicated task.
  • They see the value in stripping away the hopes and dreams of little children.
  • They have a sense of urgency because they know most people won’t stay still while you reap their soul. If a defender is in the soul-reaping business, he understands through experience that he must perform the horrific task with steadfastness, lest the victim’s spirit grab hold of its body, giving the soul confidence to fear not the reaper.
  • Defenders just wanna steal from you. It’s not personal. They just want what you have and don’t care what it will take to get it.
  • Defenders don’t care about your dreams. They had a dream once.
  • They intend to ease their own sorrows, even but for a moment, with a well-timed body tackle and a sharpened plastic fork.

Pre-Team Drafting Study Materials:

Pauly Shore and Steven Baldwin’s Biodome
Jim Carrey’s The Mask
LMAFO-Party Rock Anthem

Russell Crowe’s The Gladiator
Liam Neeson’s Taken
Terry Tate Office Linebacker Commercial

Be The Fun Coach That Wins!

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Nate Ballew

Father of four boys, married to one wife, coaching enthusiast, and fiction/non-fiction author.

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