Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant offers his advice to all you budding defenders. Find out how to improve your game and why Rhyan decided to ply his trade at fullback.
Q: Out of all the positions on the field, what drew you to defending?
Not being good enough in the midfield! But really because I could also be an attacker playing as right back.
Q: For any young defender, what tips would you recommend to give them a one up on the opposition?
Watch the ball, not the feet.
Q: How important is your body stance and positioning, when coming up against an attacker?
Very important. You want to show them one way. You need to angle your body to direct the attacker the way you want them to go.
Q: Is decision making a key skill for defenders?
Yes, it is a massive skill to have. Something you definitely need to work on. Whether its knowing when to step up, knowing when to hold your ground or knowing when to make the challenge, so decision making is quite important.
Q: How important is the offside rule for defenders? Any tips to best utilize it to your advantage?
Well obviously the offside rule helps us defenders considerably, you don’t want an opposition player standing in your goalmouth waiting for the ball constantly. We tend to not really play the offside trap, the team and I just try to hold a good line. All good defenders and teams hold a good line and if you hold a strong line you will put the opposition offside consistently.
Q: What is the biggest mistake any defender can make? And what are some mistakes that defenders usually make?
A common mistake is diving in to make a challenge, it’s not the right decision if you’re not ready with correct body positioning and stance. A lot of the time defenders just jump in and try to make the challenge and get skinned. Biggest mistake a defender could make would be making a foul in the box and giving a way penalty. Try to stay on your feet and hold your ground in your own box.
Q: Defenders are the last line of defence before the keeper. How do you deal with this added pressure throughout the game as well as remain calm under the given circumstances?
You don’t really think about it to be honest. As a defender it’s your job to hold your line and be ready to make challenges, and such you don’t really think about it as being the last line of defence. You should think about it as just another position and do what is required of you by the coach.
Q: What are some skills that you believe a defender should hone in order to enhance their gameplay?
Making sure you keep your eye on the ball, your timing on when to make a challenge and when to sit back and hold your ground.
Q: Are there any common misconceptions about defending? E.g. they have to be fast/slow
A lot of people think that if you’re a big fella they will put you as a defender but defenders can be little, defenders can be agile. Just because you are a defender doesn’t mean you can’t get forward, attack and score goals so I think that in modern day football, defenders are just as important when it comes to scoring or creating goals.
Q: Anything you would like to say to aspiring defenders in Australia?
Like I’ve said, even though you are a defender doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the whole game and attack also. As a full back, first and foremost you’re a defender but embrace getting forward and moving into attacking opportunities when the occasion arises.