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Central Defensive Midfielder Curriculum

Is this position a defender or a midfielder? The answer is both in equal measure. It is key in supporting the defensive unit and out of possession but also critical in transition In Possession to start the team attacks. Through development you need to be a master in defence and attacks and be exceptional in understanding the game, reading the play and be a driver for the team.

We have broken down our curriculum into three sections:

  1. Specific Attributes
  2. In-Possession
  3. Out-of-Possession

We have also suggested some training videos in each area.

Central Defensive Midfielder Specific Attributes


  • Ability to receive the ball in all circumstances
  • Body positioning to receive the ball – side on – to protect
  • Receives and secures the ball under pressure
  • Delivers passes to forward players with accuracy and sensitivity
  • Retains possession when necessary
  • Turns out of pressure with the ball in a variety of ways
  • Combination play
  • Angle and distance to receive pass
  • Can beat an opponent individually


  • Has the ability to accept the ball
  • Has the ability to retain possession
  • Excellent vision and awareness
  • Look forward, play forward
  • Can move through the thirds with the ball
  • Effective passing skills
  • Reads opponents attacking play
  • Slides and screens – presses, tracks and marks


  • Aerobic capacity
  • Anaerobic capacity
  • Movement off the ball to receive
  • Body positioning – open body position
  • Speed – explosive
  • Change of pace
  • Strength


  • Adapts playing styles to the state of the game
  • Intelligence and awareness
  • Decision making
  • Positive, controlled competitiveness
  • Displays Intensity
  • Diplays composure
  • Recognition of opponents strategy
CDM Out of Possession curriculum

Central Defensive Midfielder Out of Possession

There are so many aspects to the CDM role that need to be worked on when out of possession. Think all defensive drills and all midfield drills. However there are four key areas of focus in our opinion:

  • 1v1 excellence
  • Three D’s – Delay, Deny, Deflect
  • Pressing triggers
  • Sliding and Screening
Central Defensive Midfielder In Possession Curriculum

Central Defensive Midfielder In Possession

Having won the ball and the team are now in possession there are five key areas to develop as a CDM:

  • Receiving Skill
  • Turning
  • Pass selection – Vision
  • Pass selection – Execution
  • Combination play

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