How to Get Past Defenders in Soccer

The skills required to beat a defender in soccer take years of practice to acquire. Many players make the mistake of solely focusing on improving their passing and shooting while knowing how to skillfully dribble past a defender is just as essential.

Many coaches look for a skilled dribbler before a shooter because beating defenders is essential to finding scoring and passing opportunities. This guide to beating defenders will help you improve your attacks to score more goals and help lead your team to championships.

Using Moves to Get Past Defenders

Skilled players use specific tricks and moves to pass defenders and enter open space. Some players try to use tricks to show off to spectators. Players must use these moves to get past defenders as quickly as possible, as showing off can waste precious game time.

8 Moves to Get Past Defenders

Players use numerous tricks and maneuvers to move past defenders and into space where they can dribble farther up the field, pass, or shoot. The following are eight popular moves skilled soccer players use to get past defenders.


The elastico is a quick move that can throw off even the best defenders. It’s a simple maneuver that involves touching the outside of the ball and then the inside in one fast, smooth motion. The player must act out the outside touch as though they’re going to go one direction, but they swiftly touch the inside of the ball and head the opposite way.

It’s critical that the player performs the elastico in one smooth motion, and mastering it takes time.


The scissor is another move the player has to sell with their body movement. The player touches the ball a short distance ahead and then fakes as though they’re going to kick with the outside of the foot. The foot wraps around the front of the ball, and then the player switches directions by finishing the move with the other foot.

The scissor is one of the most common and successful ways to pass a defender. The movement’s success depends on how well the player fakes and how quickly they explode past the defender with the ball.


The Rivelino is a step-over fake performed entirely with one foot. The player dribbles forward with one foot and then swings the foot around and to the other side of the ball. A player faking with their left foot will land with that foot on the right side of the ball. They then explodes in the opposite direction of the fake with a strong, diagonal touch.


The in-out is another one-foot move. It was made famous by soccer star Stanley Matthews, so some players also know this maneuver as the “Matthew.”

The player dribbles toward the defender and makes a light diagonal touch with the dominant foot. Some players even fake the touch, and the trick remains successful. They then performs a quick hop on the opposite foot in the same diagonal direction. The player keeps the dominant foot in the air and moves it behind the ball. Finally, they make a fast getaway touch with the outside of the foot into the space behind the defender.

A more advanced variation of this maneuver involves lifting the ball over the defender’s foot on the getaway touch.

Diagonal Cruyff

Many times, a defender will approach the attacker at an angle. The first step is to touch the ball toward the attacker, then use the same foot to move the ball behind the opposite leg. It’s essential to perform this move at the right time — when the player sees the defender beginning to tackle.

The idea is to have the defender tackle where they thought the ball was going, not where it actually went. When this trick works successfully, the player can get far beyond the defender before they have time to recover.


The Maradona is impressive to watch and beats the defender swiftly. The move begins by touching the ball with one foot, then turning, and using the other foot to pull the ball forward. The final trick is to turn again, leaving the defender behind.

The Maradona is an ideal maneuver when a player beats another to a loose ball. The defender’s momentum works against them, and the attacker can quickly blow past.

La Croqueta

The player uses both feet when performing the La Croqueta or “cut catch” maneuver. The move doesn’t require blatant tricks, but its success is in the fast touches and direction changes.

The player dribbles toward the defender and then crosses the ball across his body with the inside of one foot to the inside of the other foot. The player then quickly pushes the ball past the defender with a more forceful touch.

A player who can perform this maneuver by moving from right foot to left foot and left foot to right foot will have more success getting past the defender and into open space.

Stop and Go

The stop and go is a simple maneuver with several variations. The goal is to confuse the defender and delay their actions, so the attacker can quickly move past. Stop-and-go moves are ideal when dribbling along the sideline.

All variations of the stop and go involve pretending you’re pulling the ball back and then exploding forward with speed. Some players pull the ball back with their laces, while others use an inside touch to move the ball back and then push it forward with the other foot.

The stop and go is another maneuver that the player needs to sell to see success. The hips and body must appear as though the ball will cut back, so the defender moves in for a tackle or steal. That’s when the attacker bursts forward, pushing the ball past the defender toward the goal or making a cross to a teammate.

Other Maneuvers to Get Past the Defense

Several other methods help players move past defenders, and many rely on the success of selling the fake as much as the player’s footwork capabilities.

Coaches encourage players to develop unique moves or link several tricks together to pass the defense. A skilled and creative player is the most difficult to defend.

Must-Have Tips for Beating Defenders

Several tips for defeating defenders apply to all of the above maneuvers.

These are five essential tips to remember when approaching a defender and attempting to dribble past them:

  1. Sell the fake: Properly selling the fake causes the defender to shift weight as they predict where the attacker will go next. That weight shift can put them off balance, leaving more time for the attacker to push the ball forward and create space. A player must move the hips and body to make the fake realistic enough to throw the defender off.
  2. Keep the ball close while dribbling: Touches need to be precise when dribbling. Expert coaches emphasize the importance of touching the ball with every step. Keeping the ball close draws the defender in, so the attacker can abruptly move past.
  3. Lure the defender to the ball: A defender becomes flustered when they think they can win the ball but don’t succeed. The attacker should tempt the defender as close as possible before throwing them off balance and increasing speed.
  4. Focus on dribbling technique: Many top-level coaches view dribbling as the most desirable skill. An excellent dribbler knows when their timing is off and can readjust for a better chance to beat the defense. An attacker doesn’t want to push a maneuver when the timing is off because it’s much easier for the opposition to gain control of the ball.
  5. Make the defender choose a side: A skilled dribbler knows to attack the foot the defender uses as support. The attacking player moves in if the defender raises the foot closer to the ball and moves out if the defender lifts the foot away from the ball.

Mentally Beating the Defense

Beating a defender is as mental as it is physical. It’s an art that requires discipline, patience, and a keen ability to read other players. A skilled defender watches the defender’s dominant leg and how they balance. He uses that information to attack the defender’s supporting foot, wait for the right opportunity, and choose the most effective maneuver for the circumstance.

Quality Not Quantity

A skilled player needs to have a bag of tricks. However, it’s better if the player uses several solid moves they’ve mastered. Unmastered maneuvers can result in turnovers that jeopardize the team’s success.

Practice is the key to improving dribbling skills and learning to beat defenders one after the other. Use the videos above to review the moves and repeat them at the pitch or backyard until perfected. A player with excellent dribbling skills is one of the most lethal on the field.

Want to go further? Learn these 5 soccer turns to improve your skills.