Rio Ferdinand: Man Marking at Set Pieces
Rio Ferdinand teaches Solo Soccer Training readers the importance of being ‘touch tight’.
Rio Ferdinand has won a fair few aerial duels in his time. Today he tell us how to nullify your opponent when defending set pieces.
“If you’re marking a player at a set-piece, the best thing you can do is be touch-tight. You can’t hold shirts and stuff like that, but as the ball is coming, you can nudge them when they’re running and get them slightly off balance. If you let someone who is good in the air get a run on you and you’re standing there waiting for the ball, you’re never going to win. It’s important that you go toe-to-toe with them and wherever they run, you run and attack the ball.”
It’s a common mistake for defenders to stand off an attacker and try to mark their run at set pieces. As you rise up the levels, you come up against better opposition, which means better movement, better leaps and better aerial ability. You can’t afford to gamble on matching their run and beating them in the air, because the attacker won’t offer you that same amount of respect.
You really have to go toe-to-toe with the attacker. Let him know you’re with him and you’re not willing to allow him the opportunity to have an attempt on goal. It’s far easier to nudge your opponent off balance at the beginning of his run, rather than a few strides in as he gathers momentum. So be confident enough to get touch-tight as soon as possible. If you’re moving in the same general direction as he is then you can’t be penalised for blocking or obstruction. If he pushes you or raises his hands then the referee should be alert enough to stop the game and talk to the attacker, which will disrupt any routines your opposition may have practiced.