Defense (sports)

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In many team sports, defense (American spelling) or defence (Commonwealth spelling) is the action of preventing an opponent from scoring. The term may also refer to the tactics involved in defense, or a sub-team whose primary responsibility is defense. Similarly, a defense player or defender is a player who is generally charged with preventing the other team's forwards from being able to bear down directly on their own team's goalkeeper or goaltender. Such positions exist in association football, ice hockey, water polo and many other sports.


Pau Gasol (yellow, outstretched arms) plays defense in a basketball game by protecting the basket as his opponent Vince Carter (blue, holding ball) attempts to score with a layup Carter vs Gasol, Lakers vs Magic.jpg
Pau Gasol (yellow, outstretched arms) plays defense in a basketball game by protecting the basket as his opponent Vince Carter (blue, holding ball) attempts to score with a layup
Goaltender Braden Holtby (kneeling) defends the net from an incoming shot on goal in an ice hockey game, while his teammate Matt Niskanen (#2) defends against Sidney Crosby from collecting the puck on a rebound. Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Bryan Rust (33744033514).jpg
Goaltender Braden Holtby (kneeling) defends the net from an incoming shot on goal in an ice hockey game, while his teammate Matt Niskanen (#2) defends against Sidney Crosby from collecting the puck on a rebound.

By sport

Field sports

American football

Association football

Australian rules football

Bat-and-ball sports

In bat-and-ball sports, the defending team is in the field, while the offensive team sends only a few players into the field to try to score at a time. These sports generally involve a member of the defense throwing the ball to a member of the offensive team, who then tries to hit it and run to various safe areas of the field to score points. Failing to hit the ball properly, or failing to reach the safe areas before the ball is used against the offensive player, can result in that player being left unable to score.


Baseball is unlike most other competitive sports in that the defense is given control of the ball. Additionally, the number of players on the field at any given time is lopsided in favor of the defense which always has nine players on the field; the offense has between one and four.

Historically, each player on the team had a role both on offense and defense. Most amateur and professional leagues have adopted the designated hitter (DH) rule introduced by the American League of Major League Baseball. In leagues that use the DH, pitchers usually do not bat, and the DH bats in lieu of the pitcher and does not play a defensive position. The main leagues that have not adopted the DH rule are the National League of MLB and the Central League of Nippon Professional Baseball.

Each play starts with the ball in the hands of the pitcher, whose job as a member of the defense is to use his skills to somehow prevent the batter from reaching base. The pitcher throws the ball toward the catcher, who must catch the pitched ball if it is not hit by the batter. In each half-inning, the defense attempts to force three outs.

There are three basic ways in which an out can occur: 1.) If three strikes are recorded against the batter, 2.) if a ball hit by a batter is caught by a defensive player before it hits the ground, or 3.) if a runner who is between bases or has not reached a base to which he is forced is put out by a defensive player in possession of the ball.

If the batter manages to hit the ball, all nine defensive players become active and use the ball in attempting to prevent the batter from reaching base and runners already on base from advancing or scoring. while the offense is busy attempting to move runners around the baseball diamond toward home plate, the defense uses the ball in various ways to achieve outs.

If the defense forces three outs, their team is moved into the offensive role. The exception is if it is the ninth or an extra inning and they are ahead, in which case, the game ends and the defensive team wins.


In cricket, the fielding team is the defense, while the batting team is the offense; the batting team can only put two players on the field at a time. [1] By getting the batting team's batsmen out before they can hit the ball to the boundary or run between the two batsmen's grounds, the fielding team can prevent the batting team from scoring points. Players can be gotten out if they hit the ball in the air and it is caught by a defensive player before touching the ground, or if the ball hits a batsman's wicket, either when delivered by the bowler or when the batsman is not in his ground. By getting all but one of the batting team's players out, the fielding team ends their opponent's scoring turn, and may begin its own scoring turn next (though it can choose not to, in the case of the follow-on).

Water sports

Beach volleyball

Water polo

In water polo, if an offensive player, such as the center forward, has the ball in front of the goal, and the defender cannot steal the ball, he may intentionally commit a foul. The forward then has a free throw but must pass the ball off to another offensive player, rather than making a shot at the goal. Defensive perimeter players may also intentionally cause a foul and then move toward the goal, away from their attacker, who must take a free throw. This technique, called 'sloughing', allows the defense an opportunity to double-team the center forward and possibly steal the inbound pass. The water polo referee may refrain from declaring a foul caused by a defensive player, if in his judgment this would give the advantage to the defending team. This is known as the Advantage Rule.

Floor and court sports


Winter sports

Ice skating team sports

There are four officially established ice skating team sports worldwide, excluding their variants. This group includes: bandy, ice hockey, ringette, and rinkball.

Ice hockey

In ice hockey, there are normally two designated defencemen on the ice. A defence man can either be an offensive player better known for their ability to glean assists or goals rather than for their strong defensive play. Such players are known as offensive defencemen. The other is usually in a more defensive role and rarely show-up on the score sheet but are important for their defensive prowess; these players are known as stay-at-home defence. There are also defensemen who are good at both; known as two-way defensemen. Defense is a team game in hockey, and when the team is not in possession of the puck (also known as puck coverage), the aim is to effectively suppress the puck pressure coming from the opponents.


In bandy, the number of defenders on the ice at a given time depends on the format being played, either "big ice" bandy which has a type of field format, or rink bandy.


In ringette, there are two designated defenders on the ice in any normal game situation (the team is not serving any penalties). However, due to ringette's first-three-in rule these situations can vary; those playing in the defensive zone are not always designated defenders.


In rinkball, the number of defenders on the ice at a given time depends on the format being played.

Skateless winter team sports

There are three known organized skateless winter team sports worldwide, that are not organized forms of snowball fighting. This group includes: broomball, Spongee (a.k.a. "sponge hockey"), and Moscow broomball.


In broomball, the number of defenders on the ice at a given time depends on the format being played.


In spongee (a.k.a. "sponge hockey"), the number of defenders on the ice at a given time depends on the format being played.

Moscow broomball

In Moscow broomball, the number of defenders on the ice at a given time depends on the format being played.

See also


  1. Runners are allowed in some forms of cricket, but not in international cricket.

Related Research Articles

Hockey Sports played with hockey sticks

Hockey is a term used to denote various types of both summer and winter team sports which originated on either an outdoor field, sheet of ice, or dry floor such as in a gymnasium.

Winter sports Sports or recreational activities which are played on snow or ice

Winter sports or winter activities are competitive sports or non-competitive recreational activities which are played on snow or ice. Most are variations of skiing, ice skating and sledding. Traditionally, such games were only played in cold areas during winter, but artificial snow and artificial ice allow more flexibility. Playing areas and fields consist of either snow or ice.

Hockey puck Sports equipment for ice hockey

A hockey puck is either an open or closed disk used in a variety of sports and games. There are designs made for use on an ice surface, such as in ice hockey, and others for the different variants of floor hockey which includes the wheeled skate variant of inline hockey. They are all designed to serve the same function a ball does in ball games.

Ice hockey rink Rink for the purpose of playing ice hockey

An ice hockey rink is an ice rink that is specifically designed for ice hockey, a competitive team sport. Alternatively it is used for other sports such as broomball, ringette, rinkball, and rink bandy. It is a rectangle with rounded corners and surrounded by walls approximately 1.22 metres (48 in) high called the boards.

Face-off Method used to begin play in ice hockey and some other sports

A face-off is the method used to begin and restart play after goals in some sports using sticks, primarily ice hockey, bandy, broomball, rinkball, and lacrosse.

Checking in ice hockey is any of a number of defensive techniques aimed at disrupting an opponent with possession of the puck or separating him from the puck entirely. Most types are not subject to penalty.

Hockey jersey

A hockey jersey is a piece of clothing worn by ice hockey, ringette, broomball, and spongee players to cover the upper part of their bodies. These jerseys are occasionally worn by North American bandy players as well as some rinkball players in Finland. This article deals chiefly with jerseys worn by ice hockey players.

Broomball Winter team sport

Broomball is a both a recreational and organized competitive winter team sport played on ice or snow and is played either indoors or outdoors, depending on climate and location. It is a ball sport and is most popularly played in Canada and the United States.

Street hockey

Street hockey is a collection of team sport variants played outdoors either on foot or with wheeled skates, using a either a ball or puck designed for play on flat, dry surfaces. The object of every game is to score more goals than the opposing team by shooting the ball or puck into the opposing team's net. All games are derivatives of either the sport of ice hockey, floor hockey, bandy and/or field hockey.

Ice rink Place for ice skating and sports

An ice rink is a frozen body of water and/or an artificial sheet of ice created using hardened chemicals where people can ice skate or play winter sports. Ice rinks are also used for exhibitions, contests and ice shows. The growth and increasing popularity of ice skating during the 1800s marked a rise in the deliberate construction of ice rinks in numerous areas of the world.

Floor hockey Group of sports

Floor hockey is a broad term for several indoor floor game codes which involve two teams using a stick and type of ball or disk. Disks are either open or closed but both designs are usually referred to as "pucks". These games are played either on foot or with wheeled skates. Variants typically reflect the style of ice hockey, field hockey, bandy or some other combination of sport. Games are commonly known by various names including cosom hockey, ball hockey, floorball, or simply floor hockey.

Pes├Ąpallo Finnish baseball

Pesäpallo is a fast-moving bat-and-ball sport that is often referred to as the national sport of Finland and has some presence in other countries including Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, and Canada's northern Ontario. The game is similar to brännboll, rounders, and lapta, as well as baseball.

Spongee or sponge hockey is a cult sport played almost exclusively in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, by thousands of players in dozens of leagues. Spongee is played strictly outdoors during the winter season. It gets its name from the puck that is used: instead of the hard vulcanized rubber puck that is used in regular ice hockey, a soft sponge puck is used. The sport at one time called "Tweeter" because of the sound the early pucks made.

Ringette Team sport played on ice, using sticks, ice skates, and a rubber ring, with off-ice variants

Ringette is a non-contact winter team sport played on an ice rink using ice hockey skates, straight sticks with drag-tips and a blue, rubber, pneumatic ring designed for use on ice surfaces. Ringette is among a small number of organized team sports originally created exclusively for women. Created in Canada in 1963, ringette had some 30,000 registered players in Canada in 2018. Growing interest in ringette has created problems when player demand has outstripped the local supply of indoor ice time. The premier international competition for ringette is the World Ringette Championships (WRC).

Delay of game is an action in a sports game in which a player or team deliberately stalls the game, usually with the intention of using the delay to its advantage. In some sports, the delay of game is considered an infraction if it is longer than that permitted according to the game's rules, in which case a penalty can be issued. Some sports that have a delay of game penalty are American football, Canadian football, ice hockey and association football.

The wheel play is a defensive strategy in baseball designed to defend against a sacrifice bunt. The play's name derives from the wheel-like rotation of the infielders.

Offside (sport)

Offside, often pluralized as Offsides in American English, is a rule used by several different team sports regulating aspects of player positioning. It is particularly used in field sports with rules deriving from the various codes of football, such as association football, rugby union and rugby league, and in some other sports e.g. ice hockey, broomball, field hockey and bandy.

Pads Protective gear used in cricket

Pads are a type of protective equipment used in a number of sports and serve to protect the legs from the impact of a hard ball, puck, or other object of play travelling at high speed which could otherwise cause injuries to the lower legs. These are used by batters in the sport of cricket, catchers in the sports of baseball and fastpitch softball, and by goaltenders in sports such as ice hockey, ringette, bandy, rinkball, field hockey, rink hockey and box lacrosse.