Soccer drill to get players forcing attackers sideways

Forcing your opponents to play sideways is one way you can make their attacking predictable and increase your team’s chances of winning back the ball. This soccer coaching session is about making attackers go the way you want them to go.

In the drills two defenders have jobs to make the tactic work:

  • First defender – close down ball quickly, consider angle of approach, side-on body shape, slightly crouched.

  • Covering defender – ready to make effective challenge if first defender is beaten, positioned at an angle behind and goalside of first defender, provide clear communication.

  • Both defenders – be patient, stay on feet and work as a team to mark space as well as the player with the ball. 
Soccer coaching drill session to get two defenders making their attackers move in a predictable direction.

Drill set up

  • Five players per group.

  • Begin with three active players for the first soccer drill, four for the first development, and end with five for the final drill advancement.

  • Set up a 30 x 30 yards split into three sections.

The server passes the ball to the attacker who attempts to dribble to the end line. The defender prevents the attacker from reaching the end line by forcing them across the playing area.

Rotate players so each of the five players has a go at serving, attacking and defending.

Develop the drill

  • Add a second defender, providing cover to defender 1.

  • The defenders will have to constantly switch roles, depending on who is nearest the ball, with the covering defender becoming the main defender and vice versa.

  • For the final soccer drill progression, add a target attacking player at the end line behind the defenders. As well as stopping the dribble, the defenders must also prevent the attacker from passing the ball to the target player.

  • The target player is not allowed to enter the field of play.
Tony Carr is Academy Director of West Ham United, English Premier League, and editor of the Smart Sessions soccer coaching plans. Smart Sessions are produced in advanced and core versions. Click here to get these dropping into your inbox every week.

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