While other positions might receive more glory and admiration, there are few roles more pivotal to a soccer team’s success than that of a defender. These workhorses are tasked with keeping the ball away from the goalkeeper and guarding their area against opposing attackers. Defenders must be gritty, fast and strong.
World soccer champ and internationally acclaimed defender Becky Sauerbrunn believes that while defenders might at times be underappreciated, they ultimately influence a team’s success on the field.
“You know, you’re not scoring goals and you’re not getting a lot of glory, but I think defending is so important and I think that team success is based on how well the team can defend. I am very proud to be a part of that,” Sauerbrunn says.
She realized early on in her playing career that her style would be best suited at the defender position. Defenders need to understand their own techniques and also hold a vast knowledge of positioning styles.
“My approach to defending is more ‘problem-solving,’ so it’s actually more mental than physical,” says Sauerbrunn on her particular playing style.
“I have never been the fastest or strongest or anything like that, so for me, it has always been, ‘Okay, how can I position myself the best?’ For me, it’s always figuring out where the attacker is going before they even figure out where they want to go.”
Defenders must be sharp on the field both mentally and physically. Their athleticism might not be showcased by a high goal count, but their impact is undeniable and needed for a team to beat the competition on the pitch.