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3 Key Qualities of a Good Defensive Midfielder or “Stopper”

Hi Coach,
Do you have any tips for being a better defensive midfielder?

Let’s start with some basics.

As a defensive midfielder (sometimes also called a “stopper”), your primary role is to play in front of the back line (the defense) to pressure opponents when they have the ball, stop balls from going through, and to plug holes created when a defender goes out of position. Think of it as a sweeper in reverse.

In my opinion, the key qualities of a defensive midfielder are:

  • Strong defensive skills – A good defensive midfielder should be able to pressure opponents on the ball, deny entry passes, make strong tackles.
  • Great conditioning – A good defensive midfielder must be able to cover sideline to sideline, and to closely mark forwards who might make runs at the defense. In addition, you will need to be able to make supporting runs to assist in transition play.
  • Awareness – Defensively, you must be to read the game in order to anticipate where to plug holes in the defense as well as in order to stop entry passes. Offensively, you must be able to find space in order to provide back passing options or get the ball to your creative offensive players.

Check out the video up top for a few more tips and a practice game from Premier League defensive midfielder, Sandro.

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