What is a Defensive Midfielder (CDM) in Soccer? 5 Best Defensive Midfielders Ever

Soccer Coach Theory Team

The defensive midfielder is the unsung hero of the soccer pitch. Or, with respect to cdm soccer, you could say it’s like a spider stationed at the center of a web. The CDM has become one of the most valuable soccer positions in recent years, and doesn’t look like that’s going away.

In the game of soccer, their vision and positional awareness are key providing defensive solidity, capable of shutting down wide midfielders and opposing attacks before they can even materialize. It takes an incredible amount of skill and dedication to be good at this position, but when done well it can be a joy to watch.

In this article, we’ll look at what it takes to be successful as a defensive midfielder. From their tactical responsibilities on the field to how their mindset affects their play, we’ll explore the depth of what it means to be a defensive midfielder. We will also examine some of the best defensive midfielders in history and see what lessons we can learn from them.

For anyone aspiring to master the CDM position in soccer or understand more about its importance, this article will provide all the necessary insights. So let’s begin by diving in and learning more about what makes great defensive midfielders so special.

What Is A Defensive Midfielder or DM?

A defensive midfielder (or dm, or cdm) is a key cog in any team’s system, as they are the players responsible for carrying out the defensive duties. Like a linchpin, they can be the difference between success and failure on the pitch.

A defensive midfielder is a soccer player who plays ahead of the back four or five defenders and is entrusted with shielding the defence from attack-minded midfielders and other opposition onslaughts. Here’s an example of the defensive midfield player in a 4-3-3 system.

They are expected to provide defensive cover by intercepting passes, tackling opponents and tracking back when needed. In addition to possessing advanced positional understanding and an apt reading of the game, it’s important for players in this position to demonstrate superior technical abilities such as passing, dribbling, and ball control. The role of a defensive midfielder requires strong concentration and an understanding of their team’s defensive tactics in order to carry out their defensive duties effectively.

The Defensive Midfielder Position (CDM)

When it comes to defensive midfielders, the numbers don’t lie. Did you know that in the English Premier League, a staggering 57% of tackles were made by defensive midfield players? That goes to show how vital this role is on the pitch. So what exactly does a defensive midfielder do?

A defensive midfielder, also known as a holding midfielder, guards the back line and provides an extra layer of protection for the team. Defensive midfielders are usually positioned in front of the defenders and are tasked with ensuring opposition attackers cannot get past them. They do this by using their positioning and tackling prowess to intercept passes or break up play. Not only that, but they also help build attacks for their team.

The role of a defensive midfielder requires excellent tactical awareness (there’s a reason why central midfield players with a defensive role end up being a great soccer coach), strength and stamina. These players must be able to scan the game and anticipate where opponents will pass or move next. They must be able to make split-second decisions when it comes to tackling and intercepting passes while being reliable enough to carry out these tasks efficiently throughout the match. It’s no surprise then those successful defensive midfielders have an immense skill set needed to excel in this position.

The Skill Set Of A Defensive Midfielder

As the saying goes, ‘Defense wins championships.’ Defensive midfielder is an integral part of any successful team, and their skill set is key to their effectiveness.

The key skills for a defensive midfielder are passing accuracy, reading the game, and the ability to anticipate opposition attacks. Defensive responsibilities include breaking up opposition plays and providing cover for the defense. A defensive midfielder needs to be able to recognize when to press forward or when it’s necessary to drop back and provide cover as an extra line of defence protecting your penalty area. Therefore, it’s vital that they have good vision and can read the game quickly.

defensive midfielder must also possess sharp decision making skills in order to be successful in this role. They must have an understanding of when they should pass or dribble in order to keep possession of the ball. They also need excellent technique in order to launch quick counterattacks after winning the ball back from an opposition player. In addition, a good sense of positioning is essential for them to not get caught out of position by their opponents’ attacking moves. All these skills combined make a successful defensive midfielder who can help their team control the midfield area with great efficiency.

The Importance Of A Central Defensive Midfielder / CDM in Soccer

Like an orchestra conductor, the defensive midfielder is the backbone of any successful football team. Positioned in the centre of the pitch, they are responsible for shaping the team’s strategy, dictating play and providing stability to the entire side. Central midfielders are essential players on any team, but defensive midfielders are especially important due to their roles in holding midfield and reading of the game.

The role of a defensive midfielder is two-fold: protecting their own defence from opposition attacks whilst also providing support to their attacking teammates. Their responsibilities include breaking up opposition attacks, marking opponents, setting up chances for their forwards, covering for fullbacks when needed and providing a link between defence and attack. A good defensive midfielder must have good positioning skills, excellent passing ability and accurate tackling technique as well as an understanding of how to read a game so they can anticipate where attackers may go next.

The importance of having a quality defensive midfielder should not be underestimated; not only do they provide a solid platform for attacking players to build on but they can also help win back possession quickly which can make all the difference in a tight match. A great defensive or deep-lying midfielder will have quick reflexes, strong vision and excellent judgement – attributes that are invaluable when it comes to controlling a game from deep within its core.

The Best Defensive Midfielders In The World

The defensive midfielder is an integral part of any team. With their tireless work rate, they are essential in helping a team succeed. These midfielders can break up play, protect the defense and launch attacks from deep positions. So who are the best defensive midfielders (DMs) in the world?

Numerous midfield players have made a name for themselves as exceptional DMs. From Sergio Busquets to Rodri, here’s a list of 4 of the world’s best central defensive midfielders of the past decade or so:

  1. Sergio Busquets – Barcelona Champion and World Cup winner
  2. Rodri – Manchester City Champion
  3. N’Golo Kante – Chelsea and Leicester City star, also man-of-the-match in a Champions League Final. You could call Kante more of a box-to-box midfielder because of his elite endurance and running ability, but when he can play defensive midfield role, he’s amazing.
  4. Casemiro – Real Madrid superstar and part of one of the best midfield threes in recent years. During their peak, Real Madrid often choose to play with a DM, and Casemiro as the main defensive mid allowed Kroos and Modric to get into central attacking midfield roles.

These players possess not only incredible skill and vision but also tremendous tactical awareness and defensive skills, which allows them to dominate the game from their position. Their ability to read the game and control possession makes them some of the best DMs in the world today. They also have an uncanny knack for finding space and making timely tackles that can disrupt opponents’ strategies.

Their defensive responsibilities go beyond simply breaking up play though; these players must also be able to transition quickly into attack when needed. Whether launching a counter-attack or providing support for forwards, these DMs possess all the qualities needed to succeed at both ends of the pitch. These players truly embody what it means to be a complete midfielder: able to defend with finesse and then drive forward with accuracy and confidence when needed.

The 5 Best Central Defensive Midfielders in History

Central defensive midfielders (CDMs) are key players on the pitch in association football, acting as a bridge between midfielders and defenders. Their main role is to create stability and provide balance, often being the unsung heroes in classic soccer tactics.

Trying to pick a ‘best ever’ list is an impossible task – so I’ve tried to pick players that had a massive impact on the position, and the way the game is played. Also, I have a clear bias towards people that I’ve seen that majority of their careers. I could put players from the 70s, 80s, and 90s in there – but a lot of it would be on reputation. At the time of writing, I’m eary (okay, mid) 30s, so I’ve favored players that I’ve seen.

Obviously, if I was making an article dedicated to the ‘best ever’ then I’d do a bit more digging.

Here’s a list of some of the best CDMs, who are shining examples of how a football player can excel in this important position that requires both defensive acumen and the ability to transition play:

Daniele De Rossi: A Roman Legend

When discussing Daniele De Rossi’s career as a defensive midfielder, it is evident what set him apart and made him exceptional. His unwavering commitment to Roma, where he spent 18 years, and his influential presence on the international stage are clear indicators of his skill and impact. Known for his leadership, tough tackling, and ability to dominate the midfield, De Rossi has rightfully earned the title of a Roman legend.

Daniele De Rossi’s Career

Daniele De Rossi, a legendary figure in Rome, made a significant impact throughout his career as a defensive midfielder. His leadership and tenacity on the field were evident, as he often wore the captain’s armband for both Roma and Italy.

De Rossi’s versatility was impressive, as he not only excelled in defense but also made crucial contributions in attack, scoring important goals for his club and country. He received numerous accolades, including being named Serie A Young Footballer of the Year in 2006 and Serie A Italian Footballer of the Year in 2009. De Rossi’s exceptional performance also earned him a place in the Euro 2012 Team of the Tournament.

Although he didn’t win any Champions League or League titles with Roma, his undeniable impact in the midfield cannot be overlooked. Furthermore, De Rossi’s success in the 2006 World Cup with Italy further solidified his status as a legendary defensive midfielder.

What Made Daniele De Rossi Great

How did Daniele De Rossi become a legendary defensive midfielder in Rome? It’s quite simple. De Rossi had all the qualities that make the best defensive midfielders in the world. He was a master at breaking down opposition plays with his strong tackles, and he had exceptional tactical intelligence and the ability to control the game’s tempo.

These attributes, combined with his leadership on the field, made him a key figure in Roma’s midfield and the Italian national team. During his successful time at Roma, De Rossi won two league titles and became a true Roman legend. He also had an impressive international career, winning the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 2006. It’s no wonder he is considered one of the best defensive midfielders in football history.

N’Golo Kante: The Midfield Dynamo

When discussing N’Golo Kante’s career and what sets him apart, it’s important to highlight his incredible work ethic, exceptional defensive skills, and consistent top-level performances.

Despite his smaller stature, Kante has repeatedly shown that he possesses the qualities of a world-class midfielder, contributing to his teams’ success on multiple occasions. His calmness on the ball, precise passing, and well-timed tackles distinguish him from traditional defensive midfielders, making him a formidable presence in the midfield.

N’Golo Kante’s Career

N’Golo Kante’s career as a midfield dynamo has been truly exceptional, filled with club success, international achievements, and numerous individual accolades. He began his journey with Boulogne and Caen before making a significant impact at Leicester City, where he played a crucial role in their surprising Premier League triumph in 2016.

Kante’s success continued at Chelsea, where he won multiple titles, including the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, and FIFA Club World Cup. On the international stage, he played a vital part in the French squad that won the 2018 FIFA World Cup and finished as runners-up in the 2016 European Championship.

Kante has received various awards, such as the Premier League Player of the Season and PFA Players’ Player of the Year, recognizing his outstanding performances. He is often compared to legendary defensive midfielders like Claude Makelele and Patrick Vieira, solidifying his status as one of the world’s best players.

What Made N’Golo Kante Great

N’Golo Kante is widely recognized as an exceptional defensive midfielder due to his dynamic style of play, remarkable endurance, and effective ball recovery skills. His performances have established him as one of the top midfielders in the world. Kante’s impact was particularly evident during the FIFA World Cup, where he played a crucial role in France’s victory. His ability to read the game and disrupt opposition attacks highlighted his tactical intelligence.

Additionally, Kante’s tireless work rate and exceptional stamina allowed him to cover every inch of the field, making him a dominant force in midfield. His proficiency in recovering possession was unparalleled, consistently regaining the ball and initiating counter-attacks for his team. Kante’s impressive performances in top leagues such as the Premier League, as well as his numerous titles and individual accolades solidify his status as one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the history of the sport.

Sergio Busquets: Master of Control

Sergio Busquets is widely recognized as a football midfield maestro. What sets him apart is his exceptional career, marked by numerous accolades and achievements. From his impressive playmaking skills to his impeccable footwork, Busquets consistently demonstrates his intelligence and technical prowess, establishing himself as a formidable force in midfield.

Sergio Busquets’ Career

Sergio Busquets has had an impressive career, showcasing his exceptional defensive skills and tactical intelligence on both the club and international stage. Throughout his career, Busquets has achieved numerous accolades that solidify his status as one of the best defensive midfielders of all time.

  • Club Success:
    Busquets has been a vital component of Barcelona’s success, winning nine La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, and three UEFA Champions League trophies. His ability to control the midfield and break down opposition attacks has been instrumental in Barcelona’s dominance both domestically and in Europe.
  • International Triumph:
    Busquets played a crucial role in Spain’s triumphs at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, showcasing his defensive prowess and leadership skills on the international stage. He earned 143 caps for the national team before retiring from international football in 2022.

Sergio Busquets’ career is a testament to his exceptional talent and his impact as one of the finest defensive midfielders of all time.

What Made Sergio Busquets Great

Sergio Busquets revolutionized the defensive midfield position with his focus on intelligence and precision. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest defensive midfielders in football history, with an immense impact on the game. Busquets’ ability to read the game and make crucial interceptions has been instrumental in his team’s success. His exceptional passing accuracy and vision enable him to initiate attacks from deep positions, making him a key figure in controlling the tempo of the game. With multiple La Liga titles, Champions League trophies, and a World Cup win to his name, Busquets’ achievements speak for themselves. Not only is he a talented player, but he is also a hard worker who excels in the modern game. His wide range of skills and contributions firmly establish him as one of the best defensive midfielders to have ever played the game.

Casemiro: Madrid’s Defensive Pillar

Casemiro has established himself as an exceptional defensive midfielder throughout his career. With his exceptional game reading skills, ability to win tackles, and solid presence in front of the defense, he has become an indispensable asset for Real Madrid. Casemiro’s defensive prowess and offensive contributions have earned him the reputation of being one of the best in his position and a key pillar for Madrid’s success.

Casemiro’s Career

Casemiro, a crucial player for Real Madrid, has played a vital role in the team’s success throughout his career. Known for his exceptional defensive abilities and tactical intelligence, he is widely regarded as one of the top defensive midfielders in football. Here are some key highlights of Casemiro’s career:

  • Club Success:
    Casemiro has played a pivotal role in Real Madrid’s achievements, contributing to their multiple La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles. His commanding presence in midfield and ability to disrupt opposition attacks have made him an indispensable player for the club.
  • International Achievements:
    Casemiro’s impact extends to the international stage, where he has represented Brazil in the FIFA World Cup and triumphed in the prestigious Copa América in 2019. His defensive prowess and tactical discipline have made him an invaluable asset to the national team.

Casemiro’s career is a testament to his exceptional defensive skills and his ability to perform at the highest level. He has rightly earned his place as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.

What Made Casemiro Great

Casemiro has established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, making him an integral part of Madrid’s defense. His exceptional skills and tactical intelligence set him apart from others in his position. What truly makes Casemiro great is his ability to excel in all aspects of the defensive midfielder role. He is a strong tackler, dominating the midfield and contributing effectively at both ends of the pitch. Casemiro’s physical strength and work rate allow him to protect the backline and break down opposition attacks effortlessly.

His tactical intelligence enables him to read the game and make crucial interceptions. Additionally, his distribution skills are top-notch, as he can effectively distribute the ball to launch counterattacks. Casemiro’s remarkable performances have contributed to Madrid’s success, helping them win numerous Premier League and La Liga titles.

He has even been recognized as the FIFPRO World 11, Casemiro is considered one of the greatest defensive midfielders in football history and has played a pivotal role in Madrid’s championship victories.

Claude Makelele: The Original Defensive Midfielder

Claude Makelele, the original defensive midfielder, was truly exceptional in his ability to disrupt play, provide defensive stability, and initiate attacks for his team. His impact on the game completely transformed the perception of the defensive midfielder position, establishing him as one of the greatest defensive midfielders of all time. Makelele’s career was defined by his remarkable skills and contributions to the game.

Claude Makelele’s Career

Claude Makelele had a remarkable career as a defensive midfielder, revolutionizing the role and setting a new standard for excellence. He was renowned for his defensive skills and ability to disrupt opponents’ play, which contributed to his team’s success in various league titles, domestic cups, and European club competitions.

Makelele played a vital role in launching attacks and providing defensive stability, forming a formidable partnership in midfield for both his national team and club. His impact as a defensive midfielder changed people’s perceptions of the position, establishing him as a trailblazer and pioneer.

Throughout his career, Makelele achieved great success, winning two Premier League titles with Chelsea, two La Liga titles with Real Madrid, and two Ligue 1 titles with Paris Saint-Germain.

Makelele’s time at various clubs was characterized by his consistency, championship-winning ability, and discipline, as he received very few yellow cards.

What Made Claude Makelele Great

Claude Makelele was a phenomenal defensive midfielder known for his exceptional ability to disrupt play and provide defensive stability. His impact was so significant that the position he played became known as the ‘Makelele role.’ Makelele’s defensive skills were on par with other renowned defensive midfielders like Diego Simeone and Roy Keane. However, what truly set Makelele apart was his intelligence and tactical awareness. He had a natural instinct for reading the game and anticipating the opposition’s moves, allowing him to position himself perfectly to intercept passes and make crucial tackles. Makelele’s defensive contributions extended beyond breaking up play, as he also possessed the vision and passing ability to initiate attacks. His influence was recognized globally, earning him a place on the FIFA World Player of the Year shortlist in 2003, a rare honor for a defensive midfielder. Makelele’s legacy has inspired a new generation of defensive midfielders, including N’Golo Kante, who have excelled in the same role. His impact on the game cannot be overstated, as he played a significant role in revolutionizing the defensive midfielder position and shaping modern football.

These players demonstrate the evolution and importance of the CDM role in association football, showing that it’s not just about defending but also about initiating and contributing to the team’s overall play.

Defensive Responsibilities Of A Defensive Midfielder

Defensively, a defensive midfielder’s role is to win back possession when their team doesn’t have the ball. This requires them to anticipate where the ball will go next and be first to make tackles or interceptions. They also need to be able to mark opponents and disrupt attacks before they can get into shooting positions. In addition, they must use their physicality and positioning skills to break up counter-attacks while blocking passing lanes so that long balls don’t reach attackers in dangerous positions.

By protecting his defence and disrupting opposition attacks, a defensive midfielder gives his team an opportunity to launch its own attacks as soon as possible after regaining possession.

Attacking Responsibilities Of A Defensive Midfielder

The main attacking responsibility of a defensive midfielder is to provide support in transition from defence to attack. This box-to-box role requires them to quickly move up the field while maintaining their defensive shape, allowing them to be present in both defensive and attacking situations. They often link up with attackers or provide key passes for them, as well as supporting wider play by providing width and depth to the midfield. A defensive midfielder’s technical ability and tactical awareness will determine their success in this role; they need to have good passing accuracy and ball control, as well as the ability to read the game and make decisions quickly.

A defensive midfield player will also be vital in a team’s build-up and can act as a key playmaker.

In this example, we see where a CDM might position themselves (or move to) in a kickoff to create an overload.

In short, a defensive midfielder needs to be able to balance their attacking responsibilities with their primary role of defending the midfield. By mastering this skill, they can become an invaluable asset for any team looking for an effective transition from defence to attack.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between A Defensive Midfielder And A Central Midfielder?

Central midfielders are much more attack-minded players; their job is to support the forwards with creative passing and aggressive runs, while also helping the defense. They have to be comfortable receiving the ball in tight spaces and making quick decisions under pressure. Defensive midfielders, on the other hand, focus more on protecting the back line and breaking up opposition attacks. They usually operate in deeper positions and are adept at reading the game and anticipating where to position themselves for maximum impact.

Defensive midfielders are often seen as the unsung heroes of any team – their role may lack glamour, but it’s just as important as any other position. Their ability to deny an attacker space can make all the difference in a tight game, allowing their team to stay organized and limit goal scoring opportunities. On top of this, their distribution skills allow them to launch counterattacks quickly once possession has changed hands.

How Do You Become A Successful Defensive Midfielder?

The role of a defensive midfielder is a difficult one. It requires great concentration, agility and strength to be successful in this position. Juxtaposed against the flashy nature of attacking players, defensive midfielders remain largely unnoticed and yet have an immense influence on the game. Becoming a successful defensive midfielder takes dedication, skill and most importantly practice. Here are four tips to becoming a successful defensive midfielder:

Firstly, focus on your positioning; the key to success as a defensive midfielder is knowing when and where to move across the pitch. Being able to anticipate what’s going to happen next and position yourself accordingly will help you gain control of the midfield. Secondly, develop your technical skills; being able to pass effectively in tight spaces will make you more effective with or without possession of the ball. Thirdly, concentrate on your physical attributes; being able to cover ground quickly and accurately is essential for any defensive midfielder looking to win back possession from their opponent. Finally, keep studying the game; watch videos of professional matches with an eye for tactical awareness so that you can get an idea of how top teams play in different match situations.

Staying dedicated will help you become better at anticipating play and reacting faster during games. Developing these skills over time will ensure that when it comes down to crunch time, you’ll be ready for anything your opponents throw at you!

Are Defensive Midfielders Important To A Team’s Overall Strategy?

Defensive midfielders are a crucial part of any soccer team’s success. They are the link between offense and defense, the ones that keep the game’s balance in check. Parallel to this, they act as a shield for their defense and play an essential role in defending and attacking moves. In short, they are an integral piece of any team’s strategy.

To illustrate this point further, here’s a list of three reasons why defensive midfielders are so crucial to a team’s overall strategy:

  • Defensive midfielders protect their backline by breaking up opposition attacks before they reach their goal.
  • They help maintain possession by providing good passing options to retain or regain control of the ball.
  • They contribute offensively by creating space for other players to move into and take advantage of scoring opportunities.

In essence, defensive midfielders are like the bridge that connects defense and attack; without them your team would have little chance of being successful. These players play a vital role in helping teams execute effective strategies on both sides of the ball. As such, it is clear that defensive midfielders are an invaluable asset to any side aiming for success on the pitch.

Is There A Certain Height Or Weight Requirement For Defensive Midfielders?

Height and weight requirements for defensive midfielders vary greatly. Take, for example, the case of Phillippe Coutinho and Paul Pogba (okay, neither are true DMs, but here me out). Coutinho stands at 5 foot 7 inches and is renowned as one of the world’s most talented attacking midfielders. On the other hand, Pogba stands at 6 foot 3 inches tall and has established himself as a powerhouse defensive midfielder. These two contrasting examples demonstrate that there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule about height or weight when it comes to defensive midfielders.

Certain physical attributes can help a player excel in this position. For instance, having strength and power helps a defensive midfielder remain composed under pressure from opposing players. Agility allows them to move quickly around the pitch, making them difficult for opponents to get around. And speed is also beneficial for defensive midfielders so they can quickly cover large areas of the pitch. These qualities make it possible for defensive midfielders to be successful – no matter their size or build!

Ultimately, while having certain physical attributes can be useful in playing the role of a defensive midfielder, these are by no means prerequisites. What matters most is an individual’s ability to read the game and understand their team’s overall strategy – something that has nothing to do with height or weight!

How Do Teams Develop Their Defensive Midfielders?

Building an excellent defensive midfielder is no easy task. According to a recent survey, the average successful defensive midfielder plays around 5,000 passes per season while keeping their passing accuracy above 80%. This statistic speaks to ball control and tactical awareness’s importance for aspiring defensive midfielders.

Teams develop their defensive midfielders in a variety of ways. To start with, coaches must get the players to understand the role of the position within the team’s overall system. For example, a coach might ask his player to stay deeper in midfield and focus on breaking up opposition plays or shielding the back four from danger. Additionally, coaches often instruct their players to move forward when it’s appropriate and join attacks as much as possible.

Once players understand their roles, they can then focus on developing their technical skillset. This includes being able to accurately pass and receive between teammates as well as dribbling through opponents’ lines and executing long-range passes with precision. Additionally, defensive midfielders need to be physically robust in order to be able to effectively win tackles and make blocks in front of goal. With consistent practice over time, these skills can become second nature for any budding defensive midfielder looking to make it at the top level.


In conclusion, defensive midfielders are an invaluable asset to any soccer team. Not only do they act as the last line of defense before the goalkeeper, but their ability to read and react to situations quickly can often lead to game-winning plays. With a combination of strength, speed, and tactical awareness, defensive midfielders provide stability in the middle of the field.

On average, defensive midfielders make more tackles than any other outfield player in a match. In fact, according to Opta Sports statistics from 2019/20 season, there were an average of 8.7 tackles made by defensive midfielder per 90 minutes played – almost double the amount of any other position. This goes to show just how important these players are at breaking up opposition attacks and regaining possession for their team.

Defensive midfielders are key members of any successful squad and should not be overlooked when building your roster. With their ability to defend against opposing attackers as well as initiate counterattacks with precise passing or dribbling skills, these players add another dimension to their team’s play that helps them achieve success both on and off the field.

Tips for Coaching a Defensive Midfielder in Soccer

As discussed, there is a lot to the role of a defensive midfielder and lots of messages to get across to your players. However, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible and not over to complicate the game. Here are a few of our tips:

  • Encourage them to constantly look over their shoulders (every 1–2 seconds) and scan the field so they always have that awareness of what is behind them.
  • Allow them to play with a degree of controlled aggression which can add a healthy degree of tenacity to their game.
  • Show them what positions to take up when their team is on the attack to cover other players.
  • Encourage them always to be a passing option for full-backs and central defenders.
  • Promote forward passes wherever possible.
  • For those who aren’t as comfortable on the ball encourage simple short passes as oppose to longer, more risky long ones – especially in their own half of the pitch.

Errors a Defensive Midfielder Could Make

  • Getting into an advanced midfield position. This is fine if there is another midfielder covering you, though!
  • Getting dragged out into wide positions, leaving space in the center of the pitch
  • Giving the ball away in their own half
  • Letting the opposition central attacking midfielder have too much of the ball
  • Letting opposition midfielders drive with the ball
  • Not knowing their role, some coaches want a midfielder who is stationed in the middle of the park, where others want their CDM to cover the entire width of the soccer field. Know your role and what your team is expecting to do to defend opposition midfielders and forwards
  • Sitting too deep. Often some CDMs will look to split the CBs (position themselves between centre backs) when in possession. While some coaches might want that, often the DM should be ready to receive the ball after the first line of pressure

Soccer Drills for a Defensive Midfielder