How to Shield a Soccer Ball

Shielding is using your arms and body to prevent a defender from taking the ball.

Shielding helps you retain possession of the ball. Learn the skill and you will be more effective on the soccer field.

This article will teach you how to shield properly and 5 situations where you should the shield the ball.

6 Steps to Learn How to Shield a Soccer Ball

1.  Get in an athletic position

Bend you knees, lower your butt, and stand firm.

Use this athletic position because it helps you stay balanced and creates leverages to push against incoming defenders.

2.  Stand sideways

Don’t stand backwards. The defender will poke his foot between your legs.

Stand sideways to put more space between the ball and the defender.

Move the ball to the foot farthest away from the defender.

3. Put your arms out

Putting your arms out helps you keep balance, creates more space between the ball and the defender, and lets you feel where he is moving.

Don’t hold out your arms and push. Put one arm out when the defender tries to take the ball then let it drop after you make contact with the player. If you hold your arm out straight for too long you will get penalized.

Repeatedly put your arm out and drop it. Put your arm on the defender but don’t push him. Read our article How to Use Your Arms in Soccer for more information.

4. Push with your body

Don’t play defense. Use your body to push the defender.

You need good upper body strength to use your body effectively. Read Fitness Training in Soccer: A Scientific Approach to learn how to become strong.

If you are about to lose your balance or the defender is overpowering you, move around (see step 5) to maintain possession.

5. Move around

Defenders will get vicious when you shield. They will do everything they can to overpower you and take the ball.

Make their job hard by moving around while shielding.

Use your arms to feel where the defender is moving. Shift your body and the ball in the opposite direction.

Move so that you always keep the defender at your side with the ball on the foot farthest away from him.

6. Look for options

While shielding, pick your head up and look for potential passes. See our article on How to Develop Vision in Soccer for more information.

Passing is usually the best option. However, you can break free of the defender and start dribbling if you push him off balance with your body.

5 Situations When You Should Shield the Ball

1. You can’t get past a player

Shield when you can’t beat a player and you can’t pass or shoot the ball quickly.

2. You have no options and a defender comes from behind

If there is little open space, your teammates are marked, you’re too far away from goal to shoot, and a defender is coming from behind shield the ball to retain possession. Consider passing the ball backwards.

3. You’re in a tight spot

Sometimes you get stuck in a tight spot and don’t have many options. For instance, you are near the corner flag and a defender charges at you.

Shield the ball in these situations and wait for a defender to poke the ball out of bounds or kick the ball off a defender.

4. You’re in the defending third

Losing the ball in a the defensive side of the field can be devastating, so defenders often shield the ball when put under high pressure.

Shield the ball to keep possession then clear the ball or kick the ball off the opposition.

If the ball is rolling in your defensive third, consider shielding (without touching the ball) so it rolls out of play.

5. To perform a play

Some plays require shielding to pull off successfully. For instance, when doing an overlap the player who holds the ball should shield it.

6. Many other situations

This list is not extensive. There are many situations where shielding the ball is ideal. When your shielding ability improves you will shield naturally in appropriate situations.

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