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How To Control The Game As A CDM

Center Defensive Midfield is one of the most respected positions because they are the engine of their teams.

The position includes many different roles that are crucial for team success. Defensive midfielders cover the defense and goalkeeper. Often moving around the center of the pitch harassing opposition attackers, and winning the ball for their team.

The defensive work isn't the only part of this position. Defensive Midfielders are the link between the defense and the midfield. They are often the first midfielders to receive the ball. So, the distribution ability has to be strong to make the transition from defense to attack smoothly.

Let's look at a player who is well-respected amongst peers and also fans. N'Golo Kante is a CDM who plays for Chelsea in the English Premier League. Kante embodies all the traits of a great CDM.

A proven winner, having won the Premier League in 2015-2016 with Leicester City. Most recently he has won the Champions League with Chelsea in the 2020/2021 season.

“Everybody knows that N’Golo Kante can run for 11 players, that’s his best quality…He’s everywhere!” -Paul Pogba
“He is a fantastic player. He is a like a rat, he goes everywhere. He has a top mentality and is a top guy.” -Eden Hazard

High Stamina

To play this position the player has to be one of the fittest players on the pitch. The running is pretty much non-stop. Low Stamina will make it easier to be tired, which means players with low stamina, won't be able to move around the field at the fastest pace. Being a slower than max speed can be the difference between making THE tackle, to prevent the opposition team to get past and create a dangerous play.

When the team is in possession the CDMs have to constantly check to the ball to be an option to receive the pass. If defenders are trying to cut off the pass, they have to move to the right and left to try and create space.

When the team doesn't have the ball the opposing midfielders are doing the same thing, so they have to track the runs. All of this drains energy, so it takes a very fit player to keep doing these things all game at the quickest speeds.

There are many different ways to build stamina. Some of the most common for soccer players are running on treadmills, doing bike exercises, or just running miles outside.


NO player likes when they are constantly under pressure and getting into physical duels with the opposition. As a defensive midfielder, nobody should come into the area and have space and time to pick their head up and play. As soon as they enter that area there should be pressure on them quickly to make them as uncomfortable as possible.

This doesn't necessarily mean diving into challenges recklessly. Sometimes it is important just to stay close to an attacking player while not trying so hard to win the ball. Being around the player will limit his/her abilities to do what they want.

Knowing when to be aggressive and when to hold ground is one of the skills that come over time, but no player should be passive when they first start playing the position.

Strong and Athletic

To knock players off the ball and win the ball overall, the player must be strong and athletic. Look at Kante here bodying Timo Werner off the ball. He is proof that it isn't about who is the biggest.

There are different ways to be strong. The most important would definitely be the core and legs. Then comes the upper body portion. Kante isn't the biggest guy, but he works harder than anyone else.

To become strong takes hard work and dedication. Gym workouts specified on specific body parts are the key to improving strength long-term. We have already written a blog on How To Get Strong Legs, so make sure you check that out. We also have more workout blogs coming in the future!

How do you become "Athletic"? This comes from doing athletic things consistently over time. Things like running, and jumping. The more they are done then over time they will just become natural and you will be "Athletic"

Passing Ability

As I previously mentioned earlier in this blog. In possession, a CDM's role is so important. Often being the first to get the ball it is their responsibility to control the tempo of the team attack. Knowing when to play quick penetrative passes, or to just slow the tempo down and keep possession.

It should be comfortable for a player in this position to have a very good first touch, and good vision. The ability to make every pass is necessary because sometimes the short simple passes won't be there. When they aren't there a defensive midfielder needs the ability to play long passes into wingers and strikers.

Sense of Leadership

As a defensive midfielder, being vocal and leading from the midfield is crucial. From this position, it's easy to see the whole field. Therefore, the player has to be willing to let the other players on the team know where they need to be if they are out of position.


How We Can Help:

At FuturElitezSoccer Training we train our midfielders to improve in all of these attributes. We also train our players no matter what position, tips on how to improve things like passing, first touch, and stamina.

We challenge our soccer players in not only individual training but group training as well to help them become a Future Elite!

So, if you're a Northern Virginia local and are looking for elite and effective private soccer training, look no further, and contact us here to get you started with our programs!


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