Soccer coaching drill using passing and blocking strengths

The modern game is quicker than it has ever been before. So with teams possessing plenty of speed on the wings and across their front lines, pace in defence has become essential too.

Historically, central defenders have always been tall, plus strong and good in the air. But nowadays, a combination of speed and agility in making recovery runs has become equally important an attribute for the game’s most successful centre halves.

We have created a great defensive move that embraces those key qualities and it utilises passing and blocking abilities.

It’s a move that’s as good for your front line as it is the backline.

How to set it up:

  • For this drill you will need two defenders, two attackers, two footballs and two five-a-side goals – no keepers are required.
  • Create two goalscoring channels side-by-side (lengthways), each measuring 25x10 yards.
  • The defender starts at the opposite end of the marked area to the goal.
  • Five yards in front, and facing him, is the attacker.
  • In the first channel a cone is placed at two thirds of the distance between the player and the goal.
  • In the second channel this cone is moved slightly nearer, about halfway between the player and the goal.

Getting started:

  • The defender starts with possession, playing a simple short pass to the feet of the attacker.
  • As soon as he plays this ball, he begins his run, with the intention of getting around the attacker to protect the goal.
  • Once the attacker receives the ball, he turns and runs, dribbling the ball towards goal. He cannot shoot until he is past the cone.
  • The defender’s job is to either regain possession or block a shot, but he must stay on his feet at all times.
  • Players should switch between channels. Ensure that players rotate so that the whole squad is involved. Set up additional channels if necessary.

Why this works:

  • Any defender who loses possession in his own half is going to put pressure on his team mates.
  • This drill is all about being active, versatile and alert in regaining possession from an attacker who has a head start. It is also a useful practice in terms of teaching players how to defend while facing their own goal.
  • Another key aspect to this drill is in discouraging defenders from going to ground. Particularly when chasing an attacker from behind, the defender is much more likely to concede a penalty – possibly earning a red card in the process – if he attempts a sliding tackle.
  • Staying on his feet also means that he can immediately clear the ball from danger or to a team mate, instead of having to rise back to his feet to make another tackle.
  • The further the cone is from the goal, the sooner the attacker can shoot and the more difficult the task becomes for the defender.

This session originally appeared in Soccer Coach Weekly.

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