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What makes a good defender?

What makes a good netball defender? Whether it be WD, GD, GK.Also, how do you know what defending position is good for you? Right now, I am really struggling to know where I stand as a defender. Sometimes my coach puts me as WD or GK but I do not know which one I am better at.

Hi Nicole, 

Firstly a good defender needs to be on their toes and have a good body positioning. Being on your toes allows you to move off the mark quickly and react to any loose balls or go for an interception. Having a good body angle will help you see both the player and the ball and increase your chances of gaining an interception. You can see the correct body positioning here.

Secondly, you need to be able to execute a tight man-to-man defence. This means you are close to your player at all times and able to dictate their movement and where they go. This will allow you to run them into the back of another defender or limit their space on court. 

It is also important you are able to work in a unit with your other defenders, as this will increase the chances of forced error or turn over the ball. You must demonstrate good visual awareness, so knowing where your player is but also where your other defenders are, but also good communication and this is a key skill when defending. 

To be completely honest, a lot of the time the difference between WD and circle defenders (GD and GK) comes down to height. If you are a good defender and tall you are likely to put in the circle at GD or GK and if you are slightly shorter you'll be put at WD. 

At WD you should work to keep your WA off circle edge to make it difficult for her to feed into the circle. You should also try to force her up court and towards the sidelines to limit her space. 

At GD you should try to keep your player out of the circle, where possible. This will limit her shooting opportunities. Also, pressurise the shot and get up for the rebounds - this is the same at GK. 

At GK you should try to make your GS uneasy, don't let her set up on you - keep moving around her. You can see here how to do that.

Personally, I would advise picking the position you most enjoy and work on the aspects needed to master that position. It sounds like you are a multi-talented player and it is always good to be able to play more than one position. 

Hope this helps. 

Hi Nicole,

We had our expert coach Marg Foster give her opinion on how to identify the position best for you as well as a few fundamentals of being a good defender.

Good Defender

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  • search our library of 700+ netball drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans