Emily Sonnett on the Role of a Defender

Professional soccer player Emily Sonnett outlines the multiple responsibilities of this important position on the field.

There’s an old saying that defense wins championships.

Defending is crucial in soccer. While players up front might be striking the ball into the back of the net, it’s a defender’s job to keep opponents away from it. Being a defender is not just about physical play, but also mentally reading the opponent and stopping opposing attacks. Defenders help their goalkeeper by keeping pressure away from the net. They’re always communicating with their backline, ensuring proper position on the pitch.

Professional soccer player Emily Sonnett details the responsibilities of a defender with these tips.

“My main job as a defender is to first defend, but then, [determine] how can I put my teammates in better positions to score,” Sonnett says.

In addition, Sonnett has a number of other responsibilities as a defender, including:

  • Breaking lines in the final third of the field, or close to goal, with strong passes.
  • Finding the farthest ball by looking up the pitch and seeing which teammates are open. In order for your ball to go far, put plenty of power on your kick.
  • Balancing yourself. Keep yourself nimble to make various twists and turns.
  • Deciding when to go forward and when to stay back on defense.

While defenders might not get all the glory, they play an important role in helping to keep opponents off the scoreboard. Defenders can take pride in a performance that results in shutting down the opposing team.

Fellow professional soccer player Becky Sauerbrunn knows all about these job responsibilities, too. Find out more about her perspective as she shares her Pro Tips on what it’s like to be a defender.

Know your role as a defender but need help working on your fundamentals? Learn from Division I women’s soccer coach Randy Waldrum as he explains the fundamentals of zonal defending.