Soccer drill to get your defenders clearing high balls

A great way to put defenders under pressure during a soccer coaching session is to set up a soccer drill where players bombard your best three defenders with high balls into the penalty area, so they have to work hard to clear them using headers or volleys.

Drill to defend against aerial bombardment

You often find on match day that you have prepared your team for everything except an aerial bombardment from a team with big, strong players who, whenever they get the chance, blast the ball into the penalty area. It’s no good having great defenders who can take the ball off an attacker, if they cannot head it away when they are under attack.

Skills to generate power

When heading the ball, tell your defenders they must have plenty of power. Tell them to arch their backs and swing their heads forward to get the power from their shoulders to head the ball away, or to judge the flight of the ball to volley it away.

set up a drill where defenders are handling long, high crosses from attackers

Soccer drill tips

In the diagram, the defenders are faced with balls coming into the box which they must prevent from bouncing. This drill is good for communication, movement and volleying, plus building players' heading skills.

How to coach the drill

1. Use three defenders and put four other players around the 18-yard box with three balls each.

2. Players kick the ball into the box from various angles, trying to get the ball to bounce in the area.

3. They can use a drop-kick, high cross, or driven cross.

4. Defenders must not let the ball hit the ground.

5. Play until all the balls are used up, then change players.

Variation on the drill for younger players

A fun way to coach heading is to get your young players heading the ball over a tennis or volleyball net. Players need to direct the ball upwards to clear the net which is great for practising defensive heading skills. It also helps you teach how to control and direct a ball properly.

Click here for more heading drills and tips for younger players.


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