Defensive soccer drills – defending as a unit
In this drill focusing on training for defenders we look at developing a team's ability to defend as a unit.
What you tell your players the drill is about:
- Working hard together to win possession.
- Pressing, supporting and covering as a team unit.
What you tell your players to do:
- Demonstrate a positive, aggressive but controlled attitude.
- Remember and apply the work on individual pressing.
- Observe the opponents' positions and your team mates.
- Keep compact as a unit.
- Cover spaces as well as players.
- Seize the opportunity to challenge correctly for the ball.
What to shout in the soccer (football) drill:
- “Press quickly.”
- “Keep together and work as a unit.”
- “Get tighter and close the gap.”
- “Stay on your feet.”
- “Don’t dive in.”
- “Win it!”
What to look for in this soccer drill:
- Slow reactions and movement.
- Gaps between players.
- Lack of positive mental attitude.
- Failure to intercept or challenge when there is a chance.
- Rash challenges, fouls, going to ground.
- Lack of communication and specific information.
What to think about:
Are your players working “smart” or just hard? Are they applying the lessons learned in marking and covering? Think about rotating tired players, as done well this is a hard soccer drill.
Drinks and rest pauses are advisable. Relax the eight pass rule in the game after a while and it will be less frantic.
Think about letting them defend deep as a team and counter attack. Applaud all goals and good attempts deriving from good defending skills.
What you get your players to do:
- Stage 1: Use an area approx 30m x 20m.
- Three players stand outside the area at both ends.
- Three other players from each team stand in the middle third.
- The coach plays a ball into one end and the players at that end step into the grid to receive. Now they must make 3/4/5 passes before they can pass into the other team at the far end.
- When they do they get a point and their team-mates in the middle can now pressurise the opponents who are receiving the ball. Each successful long pass gets a point. Rotate the players in the middle.
Develop the soccer drill
When the ball is played in by the soccer coach, one white player can move into the attacking third. His team-mates must now make 4/5/6 passes in the other two thirds before passing to him to get a point.
All the grey players now work as a team to intercept before the final pass can be made. If they do, it is their turn in possession, if not, whites retain the ball and start again.
How would I put these soccer drill skills into a game situation?
Play 5 v 5 on a 30m by 45m area with goals. Divide the pitch into thirds. The goalkeeper in possession must distribute in his defending third. A team making eight passes gets a goal. A normal goal also counts.
This encourages the defenders to hunt as a pack and try to win the ball back early. They must work as a team.
Click here for a competitive team game to make defending fun.
64 Small-Sided Soccer Games is a valuable tool for any soccer (football) coaches who would like to vary their training sessions and keep their players keen. Click here to order a copy.
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