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The clock is ticking, your team is holding on to a slim one goal lead and YOU get ball possession deep in your own half. Do you try to move the ball forward ? Pass the ball to a fellow player ?

NO !!

Professionals learn to shield a ball. It is one of the most important soccer techniques used to keep possession in a tight space.

What is Shielding ?

When a player in possession of the ball puts his body between the ball and the opposing player creating a physical barrier. This ball protection is called shielding.

How To Shield a Ball Effectively ?

When trying to shield a ball effectively the player in possession turns their body at an angle to the opposing player. The key is, one of the shoulders of the defender in possession is angled toward the opponent’s chest. The defenders knees should be slightly bent; this causes stability and restricts forward movement when the opponent challenges the defender. Both of the defenders arms should be bent at the elbows and away from their body at an angle between 45° and 90°. The inside arm of the defender ( the one closest to the opponent ) is used to restrict the forward motion of the opponent, the defenders other arm is used primarily for balance in conjunction with the knees being bent.

The palm of the hand closest to the opponent is used to manipulate the opposing player’s position. As he tries to move around the defender the hand is placed on either the chest or the shoulders of the opponent, thus restricting his access to the ball. The defenders head position should be slightly turned to a 45 angle; this allows him to observe both his opponent and the ball at his feet. An experienced player has incredible feel for the ball at his feet; this allows him the advantage to be able to manipulate the ball into a defensive position while keeping the opponent in view.

The ball is kept under control with the foot furthest away from the opponent. This allows the least chance of the opponent being able to reach around and steal the ball from the defender. The defenders stance should be wide thus elongating the distance between the opponent and the ball. With practice, the defender should be able to control the ball with the slightest touch, whether it is with the inside or outside of his foot or with the sole of his boot.

With these defensive tactics in play, the defender should be able to turn at will with complete control of the ball and either contain and shield or pivot and move to the opponents weaker outside.

Using these techniques, a player adds to his skill set and has confidence when he is on the ball with those final seconds ticking away.

Coaching Shielding :: Do’s And Don’ts


Keep your body between the opponent and the ball

  1. Stay on your toes
  2. Keep the ball as far from your opponent but still be able to keep good ball control
  3. Stay strong. Your opponent will try to come around you. Keep the knees slightly bent and your stance wide.
  4. Be observant. Just because you are holding one opponent off the ball does not mean other opponents will not attack from your weak side.
  5. Always be at an angle to your opponent
  6. Arms out from the body.
  7. Practice, Practice, Practice


Keep the ball to close to your body

  1. Stand up too straight. This throws your balance off when tackled
  2. Have your back to your opponent
  3. Face your opponent

The most important DO :: Do stay passionate about the Beautiful Game.

Hopefully this article has added another valuable skill to your soccer bag of tricks.

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