Saving potential goals and clearing the ball are critical skills for soccer defenders to master. Sometimes you just want to slow down an offensive player for your teammates to circle back to help or let the goalie get into better position. The basics of defending can be practiced very easily in the yard.
Learn to walk slowly with your back to the goal while keeping your basic position on the field. Make a straight line on the ground using tape or string and see how close you can keep to the line while increasing your speed. Have someone stand behind you as a goalie and call out whether you should move to the left or right to keep you on track.
Have someone toss a soccer ball near your feet but far enough away that you have to lunge for it. The goal here is to get a part of your foot or leg on the ball and deflect its path. To increase difficulty, use several soccer balls, and have one thrown towards you every five seconds before you’ve had a chance to set up from the previous defense.
Have another player dribble a soccer ball towards you. Make up your mind whether you want to step up and challenge that player or step back and keep the ball and player in front of you. Remember, if you step up and challenge in a game, that approaching player could pass the ball to another player who could easily score.