Soccer shielding is an important dribbling technique often used to keep possession in tight spaces. Shielding occurs when the player in possession of the ball positions themselves between the ball and their opponent creating a barrier with their body. The player simply uses their body as a shield to keep distance between the ball and the defender.
The first 3 key points are good for first lesson:
- Side on, shielder keeps body/knees between defender and ball
- Bent knees - shoulder on defender
- Keep ball on away foot
- Make self big (be careful with telling kids to use arms, they tend to push and foul, instead of being sly)
What are the basic rules of shielding?
The first rule of shielding is to avoid turning your back on the incoming defender if at all possible. It is much harder to hang onto the ball if you cannot see what your opponent is doing - so try to keep one shoulder pointed at the defender at all times. About the only time that you want to turn your back on an opponent is when you know that you have back support and you will be able to play the ball back to a team-mate very quickly.
The second rule of shielding is to take control of the situation yourself. If the opponent is coming in hard, it is generally a good idea to be the one to make the first contact.
The third rule of shielding is to be aggressive in holding onto the ball. It is okay in soccer to use your arms, shoulders, body and legs to keep an opponent from getting the ball (you just cannot push with your hands or kick/push with your feet), so don’t be afraid to hold your ground or to use your body to push the opponent away.
Here are a couple common mistakes that occur when players are learning to shield:
- Shielding players get caught flat footed and do not keep their body in between the ball and the defender.
- Whether it’s caused by not maneuvering the ball quick enough, or not moving their body quick enough they expose the ball to the opponent.
- Expose the ball to the opponent by holding the ball too close to their body.
- Players stand too straight up and do not get a low center of gravity.
- The shielding player’s stance is not wide enough.
- Shielding player is facing the defender exposing the ball.
- Shielding player has their back to the defender
Players with partners take turns shielding, tell players to stay in their area and shield not run away. Defenders 50% effort (little kids never understand this).
Play Pirate game 1 or 2 more times. For first game - Coach is pirate, challenge every player and put them in proper position before going after ball.
Coaching points: side on, find space.
Effective Soccer Shielding Skills
To perfect shielding in soccer the player in possession of the ball should turn their body somewhat sideways to the defender with their knees slightly bent.
Both of the player’s arms should be up and away from their body bent at the elbows. The arm closest to the defender will be used to hold off the defender (shield the defender) while the other arm is used for balance. The hands should also be used to feel the defender and can somewhat be used to manipulate the defender’s position.
The shielding player’s head should be up at a position where they can see the defender and the ball; however, if they can feel the ball with their touch rather than looking at it they will be more effective. With a wide stance the ball should be held with the outside foot at the farthest distance from the defender, but close enough to maneuver quickly.
The player shielding the ball should be able to move the ball with the soul of the foot, top of the foot, as well as the inside and outsides of both feet.
Lastly, the shielding player should be able to quickly pivot and push or pull the ball into space farthest from the defender.