FIFA Defending Basics: Defending in FIFA 21

FIFA Defending Basics: Defending in FIFA 21

Decision making when you are defending an attack. Controls to use when defending. Jockeying. Player switching. Tackling. All of these things contribute to your defensive performance in FIFA 21.

Defending is one of the most important things in FIFA. By keeping clean sheets, you win more games. How are you going to do this, though? Where do you start? 

We’ve got you covered with this guide. Let’s dive right into it! 

Controls in Defending

There aren’t any special controls in defence, apart from the auto-switching and the auto-switching move assistant. These are really important.

You definitely want to set the auto switching assistance to air balls and loose balls. The move assistance should be set to high if you are not feeling too comfortable in defence, or if you are learning the game still. If you feel more experienced, set it to low. That’s what Renzo does himself, because he feels confident with the right-stick switching. He doesn’t want the AI to help him select the players.

Aggressive Defending

Defending evolves each year, and it changed drastically after FIFA 19. Be careful with defending aggressively or overcommitting, because that is a lot more costly now than it was back then. A situation like the screenshot below shows a situation where you can defend aggressively, because there are relatively few attackers compared to the defenders.

However, overcommitting costs you goals. Make sure that the player you use to apply pressure with isn’t leaving any gaps in your defense. We advise you to stay away from that way of defending.

Defensive Jockeying

At first, let’s look at the definition of jockeying. Holding down L2/LT will mean a defender faces up their opponent and can keep them contained without committing themselves to a tackle. Adding R2/RT turns it into a fast jockey, which is especially effective if you’re trying to cover ground or make interceptions in midfield.

We have two types of jockeying. It’s the fast jockey (L2 & R2) and the regular jockey (L2). The fast jockey is regularly used if you are certain of your opponent’s movement to come. By using this, you can quickly retreat the ball. If you’re not that certain yet, we recommend you to use the regular jockey only. 

Player Switching

Player switching is one of the most important parts of FIFA 21 defending. Switching with the L1-button is the easiest way and selects the player closest to the ball.

If you want someone different than the one close to the ball, you can use the right stick to switch. This is not as secure as L1, but it’s the way to go if you want to get better at FIFA. It allows you to select whoever you need, as quickly as you need.


There are two ways of tackling in FIFA 21. There’s the standing tackle and the sliding tackle.

Standing tackle is usually the most used and ‘better’ tackle because it is safer and it gives you the option to still get back in to the duel if you mistime it. When you mistime a sliding tackle, it’s almost impossible to get back to your defensive organisation. 

Powering your tackles is something that is still quite new in FIFA, and something many people still don’t know yet. By holding the standing tackle button, your tackles will cover more space. This is great if you get into a situation where your player is not as close to the ball yet, but you’re sure of where your opponent is going. 

There’s not much to say about the sliding tackle. It works in some situations, but it’s a more risky way of defending. Don’t use these in your own box.

New Mechanic 

FIFA 21 has one new defensive mechanic. It’s not an entirely new mechanic, though. It was in FIFA before, but it is now a different button. We’re talking about the L2 to push someone of the ball. When you are next to your attacker, use L2 to push someone off the ball and retrieve possession with committing a foul.


We hope this has helped you take your defending to the next level. Looking for more content on defending? Make sure to check out our YouTube video on top of this page, 


Are you willing to take your FIFA-skills to the next level? Check out our official 1-on-1 FIFA Coaching sessions here!