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Defenders are those players in a ball sport who usually do not try directly to score a goal or a point. The primary goal of a defending player is to prevent countable scores on the part of the respective opponent.

Goal games

The blue colored circles represent the defenders on a soccer field.

In goal games, defenders are designed to prevent opponents from scoring a goal. They are the field players closest to their own goal and are usually right in front of the goalkeeper (if any). The term defender is often used as a synonym .


In football , the position of the defender is divided into that of the full-back and central defender in modern game systems , with central defenders playing directly in front of the goal and full-backs in the outer positions. Modern area coverage requires defenders to have a greater understanding of the game than man coverage , which was still practiced until the early 1990s, and sometimes even later. The modern defense actor must support the offensive in addition to the defensive tasks, i.e. support and initiate attacks. Especially at set-pieces and defense take on the task to score goals. In modern game systems, the full-backs in particular are also important for the offensive. You should always engage in attacking play, score goals or at least prepare.

The positions in the defense of earlier game systems are those of the man markers , pre-stoppers and the libero , whereby only the libero actively supported the build-up of the game and the man markers should be pure “destroyers” of opposing attack efforts.


The defensive players in handball , depending on the attack concept of the opposing team and the defense concept of the defending team, usually do not have to deal with a fixed opponent. For every attack concept, such as blocking, crossing, "on gap and further", running in and of course combinations thereof, there are one or more defense variants that can vary from game to game and also during a game. Essential for the inevitable handover and takeover of attacking players between two or more defensive players are firm agreements before the game and corresponding - mostly loud - commands during the game, which react to the corresponding actions of the attacking player.

During their defensive actions, the defensive players are allowed, according to the rules, to accompany the respective opponent from the front with bent arms, to play the ball out with the flat of their hands or to block the attackers' paths with their bodies, whereby a distinction is made as to whether the defensive players can recognize their actions use to capture the ball, or just to prevent the attacking player from throwing or playing. What is interpreted by the referees as correct defensive behavior in practice depends largely on the division or the individual strength of the teams. A foul is often only decided when the attacker is no longer able to throw or pass in a controlled manner. If he succeeds in doing this even in distress from the defensive player, the advantage rule usually applies or the defensive player is only punished progressively (additionally) in the case of serious offenses.

ice Hockey

Ice hockey positions
Left Wing  - Center  - Right Wing
Enforcer  - Grinder  - Team Captain  - Pest  - power forward  - Rover
Position of the players on the ice surface

In ice hockey , too, the main task of defense is to prevent the opponent's goals. There are usually six defenders in a team, who - in three rows or pairs - are usually two on the ice. This principle also falls to them offensive tasks, so they take up front third of the positions mostly on the blue line, and are there with passing shots or (especially with whipped shots involved) at Goal scored. In addition, the defenders are usually responsible for building up the game by playing the first pass of an attack from their own zone to one of the three forwards.

Defenders are often divided into more offensive and more defensive defenders. The former are more noticeable because of their participation in goals and tend to be more technically experienced, while the latter have better defensive qualities, are physically very present and usually stand out with better plus / minus statistics.

Table tennis

WRL positions of the best 4 table tennis defenders

In table tennis , the defensive game is characterized by peculiarities of the playing technique so that, in contrast to other return sports, a clear distinction can be made between offensive players and defensive players. The characteristic feature of the defensive player is the use of the undercut ball (slice) on topspin balls of the opponent. Offensive players , on the other hand, react to a topspin with blockball or counter topspin.

In modern defensive play, the defenders usually use two different rubbers , a non-slip pimple inner surface and a surface with long pimples, and turn the racket as required. They are by no means limited to defensive strikes, but also take the initiative when the opportunity arises.

Defensive play has been made more difficult in recent decades. Among other things, through the two-color rule for the racket, the enlargement of the ball (from 38 to 40 mm diameter) and the ban on certain long pimple rubbers with smooth pimples. Whether the switch from celluloid balls to plastic balls puts defenders at a disadvantage is controversial.

Nevertheless, in the last few decades the top 100 in the world rankings included 4 - 8 defenders for men and 7 - 13 women for women.

For men, in 2019 these are Panagiotis Gionis , Ruwen Filus and Wang Yang . For women, these are Suh Hyo-won , Hitomi Sato , Kim Song-i , Honoka Hashimoto , Li Jie , Han Ying , Li Qian , Polina Michailowa , Wu Yang , Ganna Gaponova , Linda Bergström , Tetjana Bilenko and Viktoria Pavlovich .

Individual evidence

  1. Positions: Defender. Retrieved April 6, 2020 .
  2. The spatial coverage. Retrieved April 6, 2020 .
  3. The man marking. Retrieved April 6, 2020 .
  4. Ice hockey positions: These are the tasks of center, goalie & Co. In: Retrieved April 6, 2020 .
  5. Jump up ↑ Ice hockey defender - Defender in ice hockey game - Defender ice hockey tasks. In: Retrieved April 6, 2020 .
  6. Table tennis strategy & tactics ... The game systems. In: March 22, 2017, accessed April 6, 2020 .