What Does CDM Mean in Soccer?

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The roles of midfielders are central in a soccer field. They support both attacking and defensive players and also set the pace of the game. Among this group of players, there is a little-known position known as CDM.

So, what does CDM mean in soccer? In short, it is the central defensive midfielder. The title is pretty explanatory on its own. However, modern football has forced CDMs beyond defending the central field.

To help you learn more about the topic, we will discuss the many important things about CDMs, including their roles today and what puts them among the most essential players in the field.

What Does CDM Mean in Soccer?

It is hard to state exactly when people started using the term “defensive midfielder” in soccer. Back then, the game was purely focused on attacking and making goals.

However, what we know now is that almost every team on this planet has a CDM on its lineup. While the position is not an actual defender, the CDM plays a somewhat defensive game in the central-midfield area.

A CDM is mostly tasked with making interceptions and aggressive tackles. The main job of this player is doing whatever they can to stop the opponent’s attacking players from going beyond the mid-field line.

What Is the Role of the Central Defensive Midfielder in the Soccer Field?

While the main role of a CDM is playing defense in the central midfield area, these players also have some other responsibilities in a game.

While a CDM is often positioned to support the defenders, they must also be able to jump into an offensive post when needed. Usually, the main role filled by a CDM in an offensive play is making passes and searching for goal opportunities. 

A CDM must also be able to control the game’s pace according to the team’s condition. This is why such a player is always in constant communication with both offensive and defensive players.

Which Qualities Define a Good Central Defensive Midfielder on the Field?

Considering the many roles of a CDM on a soccer field, it is understandable that not all players have what it takes to be one. Below are some of the essential qualities that such a player must have.


Because a CDM’s main role is intercepting an attacking player from entering the defense zone, this player must be able to do powerful tackling. This tackling must also be done without committing a foul.

Supporting Defenders

A CDM must also know where to take a position in the field in relation to other defensive players. The most important ability to hold is knowing how to cover any gap in the defensive line.

Communication With the Defense and the Attack

Without good communication skills, a CDM will not be able to serve its purpose. A good CDM must be able to dictate where defenders should move and support offensive players during an attack.


Being a  CDM requires a whole different level of stamina. Unless a player is willing to be active for 90 minutes and never gets tired of handling pressure, he or she should not dream of becoming a CDM.

Game Reading Abilities

Understanding the game’s momentum, reading enemy players’ movements, and preventing them from making an offensive play are also must-have abilities for a CDM. 

Off The Ball Movement 

While it is hard to deny that a CDM must know how to dribble and pass accurately, off-the-ball movement is equally important. Without it, a CDM will have a hard time supporting teammates.


Who are the most notable CDMs in the history of soccer? 

Some of the most famous CDMs in soccer history are N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Fabinho, and Casemiro.

They have all been exceptional in their roles and have earned the admiration of both soccer players and fans.

What makes CDMs different from CAMs?

The main difference lies in their roles. Unlike CDMs, CAMs are mainly tasked to support offensive players.

Are CDMs considered defenders?

No, they are not. While they work closely with a team’s defensive line, they are still considered midfielders.


The CDM plays a critical role in the success of a team in any given play situation.  The explanations above are just an introduction to the significance of these players.

If you dream about becoming one, train hard because these players are the workhorses of a team. They’re a crucial part of a team’s strategy, and a good (or bad) CDM can make or break the entire game.

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