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Soccer is a game of speed -- but you can't always be the fastest player. Sometimes you will have to defend against an attacker who simply has more speed than you. According to former professional soccer player Jared Montz, if you're not faster than the attackers, then you need to be mentally quicker. Think about how you defend fast players and play strategically against them to gain an advantage.
Position yourself between the player you are marking and the goal. Fight the urge to stay on top of your opponent -- you need to give yourself space to defend him. Stay back at least an arm's length. This will give you enough space to react to his movements. If you are too close, it is easy for a faster player to step around you and beat you to the ball.
Anticipate the Play
You can't beat a faster player in a foot race -- unless, of course, you get a head start. Get a jump on the ball by anticipating the play. When you see the midfielder put his head down, preparing to kick, run to the open space downfield. Don't wait until he makes contact with the ball. This will give you a one- to two-second head start on the player you are marking, giving you a chance to beat him to the ball.
People often think of soccer as a noncontact sport -- but it is actually a limited contact sport. You are allowed a certain amount of physical contact without being called for a foul. When you rush for a through ball, gently push the player you are marking. Don't shove him aggressively, just push off of him gently as you run into the open space. This will send his balance in the opposite direction, giving you an additional second or so to get a jump-start on him.
It might seem counterintuitive, but slowing down can make it easier to defend against a fast player. If you rush onto a fast player with the ball, it's easy for him to take a sidestep and quickly dart around you. Sprint to catch up with him, but slow down when you are 5 yards away. Then get your body low and keep in front of the attacker. Move with him, cutting off his path to prevent him from sprinting down the field.