Defense

The defensive soccer drills and games in this section will help you coach your players to work as a unit at the back. We look at how your players should organise themselves, what are their roles and responsibilities as defenders, and how they should react in different defensive situations. With work, you should be able to coach your players to control the game at the back and to start great passing moves leading to goals at the other end.

 

 

    • Defending the target man drill – Sometimes your team will play a team with one player who is much more talented than the rest. This could be a striker that they rely on to score all their goals, or the player who starts all their moves. Use this soccer drill to coach your players to defend against this style of play.

 

 

    • Defender soccer drill to keep attackers at bay – When your defender is the last man, if he jumps into a tackle and doesn’t win it, the attacker is through on goal. So, you need to coach your players how to hold up an opponent until help arrives.

 

 

    • Soccer coaching tips to boost defenders support role – When a defender plays the ball out of his penalty area to one of his midfielders or attackers, he should not stop running. He should run outside the attacker, to help put pressure on the opponents, says David Clarke. Use the following soccer coaching tips to put these skills into practice.

 

 

 

    • Soccer drill to get players goalside – Coaching your players to get goalside is one of the basic positional tips a soccer coach can give. Follow these soccer coaching tips and drills to make it clear to your team just what’s involved.

 

 

    • Soccer drill for defending deep – The Italian national team has grown up on the defensive system called Catenaccio – in which the teams strangle the game then unleash long counter-attacking balls. The team’s ability to defend deep is a useful skill for youth soccer (football). Use this soccer drill to teach your players these tips and tactics.

 

    • Defensive skills drill using players to coach the team – In this basic soccer training drill, one of the players becomes the “coach” and instructs the team in the tactics to use in a 3v3 game. Watching play from the sidelines is different to playing in the game and it can help players develop tactical ability if they’re not in the thick of things.

 

    • Soccer coaching tips to get defenders clearing the ball – Let’s face it, during the course of a match there are going to be times when a defender is unable to control and shield the ball from attackers. In this instance he should be looking to kick the ball high and away from the danger zone to gain time for his team to regroup.

 

    • Soccer drill to get your players making the most of extra players – Your players will get used to taking advantage of extra players in overload situations in matches – if you use soccer drills regularly to get them practising this. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing an advantage given away by players not thinking or being aware of what is going on in front of them.

 

 

 

    • Soccer drill to get your back up defenders in the right place – When a defender is applying pressure to an attacker with the ball it’s important they have back-up in the form of a second or “covering” defender. That’s to ensure that if the attacker beats the first defender, any progress is stifled by the second one. Use these tips and drills to coach back-up skills

 

    • Soccer drill to defend goalkicks – How often does your goalkeeper kick the ball from a goalkick only to see it go to the opposition, who smash it back straight into the net? Introduce a soccer training drill that involves having a player on the line to put a stop to this.

 

    • Soccer drill to get defenders covering all options – When young defenders are absorbed in a game they are often drawn away from their position, moving to where the ball is being played. A good tip is to tell your midfielders to keep an eye on the wings and see if by switching play from one side to the other they can catch out defenders who have gone missing.

 

    • Defending soccer drill using overload tactics – If your young defenders tend to go to the ball rather than stick with the attacker they’re marking, leaving big gaps in the defence, try the following soccer drill. You are aiming to overload your defence to help defenders understand they need to watch the movement of the attackers and the ball when balls are played into the danger areas they’re defending.

 

    • Put your opponent under pressure with this soccer drill – Knowing when to tackle an opponent or close them down is an important part of the art of defending. Often players will jump in too soon, or not get tight enough at the right time, in both cases the attacker will have the chance to beat the defender. Use this soccer drill session to get players putting defenders under pressure.

 

    • Coach players to defend long ball over the top of their heads – I find it hard to accept when we let in a goal in the last 10 minutes – especially if it’s a goal that turns a win into a draw or a draw into a loss.Tired players are often caught upfield by swift counter-attacks that destroy all the tactical planning and good skills in the rest of the game. Coach your players in a recovery plan move to handle this situation.

 

    • Soccer drill to get players marking tight – If I ask one of my players to mark an opponent tightly, he needs to know what I mean by “tight.” Putting it simply, he is guarding an opponent so it is difficult for them to receive the ball or play and easily pass to a team mate. To practise these skills, get your players to try the following simple soccer drill.

 

    • Soccer drill to coach blocking the shot – Defenders can save goals by placing themselves between the goal and the ball. Some defenders have the ability to read the situation and will “throw” themselves in front of the ball to deflect it away from goal. The following soccer drill is a good one to get defenders blocking shots to protect the goal and working at match speed to make their reactions fast and instinctive.

 

    • Soccer drill session for defending in threes – Building a good understanding between defenders is important to the success of your team. What this soccer coaching drill aims to do is to develop your players’ appreciation of the positions they must take up relative to each other, the attacker and the ball.

 

    • Defending in twos soccer drill – This soccer coaching drill looks at two defenders working together to stop attackers. The coaching session tests players’ ability to communicate and support when attackers are running towards goal, and when they receive the ball with their backs to goal.

 

 

    • Soccer drill to get players defending long throw ins – Long throw-ins have become fashionable in youth soccer, where they are about as effective as having free-kicks or corners, especially if they’re near the goal. To defend against them, you need a basic set up with players aware of their responsibilities when the ball is played in. Use this soccer drill to get your players working on these skills.

 

    • Soccer end zone alley drill to coach 1v1 defending – 1v1 defending should be seen as an important part of your soccer coaching programme. Your players will respond better on match days when they know how to tackle 1v1 situations. The only way to achieve this is with repeated practice but you can make defending skills drills more fun with the help of this end zone alley soccer drill.

 

 

    • Soccer drill to get lone defenders delaying attack – Delaying an attack is vital when defenders are on their own at the back, waiting for reinforcements to arrive. So use this soccer drill to show your defenders how they can hold off attackers by pressuring quickly and keeping them away from goal.

 

 

 

    • Soccer drill to develop defensive understanding – This soccer drill is 1v1 on the pitch but the defender receives verbal support from his team-mate, which is crucial to developing a 2v1 defensive understanding. It helps players get used to talking to each other during matches and helping out verbally in situations where players cannot see each other.

 

    • Soccer drill to improve 1v1 defending – This soccer coaching session is about improving your players’ skills to defend in 1v1s by getting into a good starting position and dictating the direction of play. These soccer drills will make better defenders and show players how to reap the rewards of winning possession.

 

 

 

    • Clear the ball soccer tips – Good soccer skills win matches, it’s true. But clearing balls out of dangerous situations is a skill in itself. It may not look pretty but it is a very effective defensive skill to use.

 

 

 

 

    • Soccer coaching tips for recovery runs goalside – The opposition has the ball and your team is outnumbered at the back. That’s when the players doing the defending need their team-mates to make recovery runs goalside of the ball as quickly as possible. Use these soccer coaching tips and drill to help.

 

    • Soccer drill to coach defending a through pass – The through pass, if it leaves your defenders looking behind them at the attacker running free towards the goalkeeper, is a killer pass. Use the following soccer coaching tips and drills to help your defenders block or cover the pass.

 

 

 

 

    • Back four defending soccer drill – Use this defending football drill to coach defenders so that when one of them steps up to head a ball away, the others will be ready to move into the space left behind him.

 

 

    • Marking skills soccer drill – This is a football (soccer) drill session to improve man-to-man marking, tracking runners, dealing with players dribbling in a 1v1 situation, sliding across to help team-mates and more.

 

 

    • Dribble or pass soccer drill – In this 4v4 football (soccer) session you are coaching players to improve deep defending, stretching play and hitting teams on the counter attack using dribbling and passing skills.

 

    • Around the world small sided game – This small-sided soccer game has match-like pace so players arrive on the pitch at different angles, speeds and levels of fatigue due to the attack that has just taken place.

 

    • Basic defending soccer challenge – In this game, defenders work hard to pressure their opponents and block shooting opportunities. Having to defend three goals means defenders must make basic defending decisions and move quickly to cover space in front of them.

 

 

    • Basic coaching drill to improve soccer possession – It’s hard work for any team to win back the ball, so soccer possession is vital. Players must work hard to keep possession of the ball because this is key to scoring goals and winning the game.

 

    • 1v1 soccer drill for possession skills – When you want to start coaching your football (soccer) players to develop a competitive edge, I find it best to work them in 1v1s where they are concentrating only on their opponent and the ball. This is a good soccer drill to use for a warm-up exercise, too.

 

 

 

 

 

    • Fun game to get players improving basic defending soccer skills – This is a very simple soccer game to set up, but it forces the players to display clever movement as they have to protect their own ball at the same time as trying to remove their opponents’ balls from the game. This game is also a good practice exercise to use for an indoor training session.

 

 

 

    • Soccer drill to keep defenders alertDefenders have to remain alert at all times so they know where the ball is and can move to defend against an attack. Working on concentration is a vital part of your soccer coaching sessions – you must include it in your schedule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Soccer coaching session to brush up defending skills – Every season there are matches where your team is under constant pressure, due to your players not being on top of their game or the opposition being stronger. The ideal way to practise for this is to run sessions that can recreate the situation.

 

 

    • Soccer defending drill – Defending exercises can be boring for your players as they have to concentrate on angles and positions, and they have to keep stopping to explain. For a fun alternative to the usual defending practice, try this soccer (football) drill which gives players a good attack versus defence workout

 

    • Soccer drill for defending against clever attackers – This is a great soccer coaching drill to help your players when they’re defending against clever attackers. It allows attackers and defenders to experience different situations they will face during matches. The defenders in this drill have to cope with four different types of ball – a 2v2 attack facing the goal, facing away from the goal and crosses from the left and right wings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Multi-ball drill for soccer defending – This is a great soccer drill to end one of your coaching sessions. Your soccer players won’t know there’s a coaching element to this game and will be learning without realising it.

 

    • Soccer coaching game for defensive positions – Getting soccer players to think about what might happen next is always hard to do. Why should they move to cover space when there’s not much chance of danger there?In the case of soccer defenders, players will often move away from a situation they think their team mate has control of only to see the team mate get beaten and the opposition moves into an attacking situation unopposed.

      You must get your defenders to cover the areas behind their team mates so that if the attacker beats the first defender they are there to cover the situation and prevent a goal scoring opportunity.

 

    • Soccer coaching drill for defending techniques – Defending exercises can be boring as you have to concentrate on angles and positions, and you have to keep stopping to explain. But try this drill “Around the world”, which can be used to give players a good attack versus defence work out.

 

 

 

 

    • Tackling drills – Here is a selection of tackling drills and a game to help your soccer team when out of possession.Click on the headings for in-depth instructions on how to implement the tackling drills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Soccer coaching game to win the ball back – A good defence will be able to pressure its opponent into making a mistake. The rule of this session is that the nearest player to the ball must go to pressure the player in possession.

 

    • Soccer session for rapid recovery – Every coach has been in the situation where his team loses the ball, the opposition race towards goal, yet his own players stand and watch the inevitable conclusion unfold.

 

    • Soccer tips on how to achieve goals from your free kicks – When a free kick is given just outside the penalty area, the opposition often spends time arranging its wall while the attackers do the same. But how often do your players stand around and argue about who will take it and then just kick it harmlessly to the opposition?

 

 

    • Manchester United’s three-ball routine – Manchester United’s first-team coach Rene Meulensteen developed what he called the three-ball routine to increase team speed and mental awareness. I saw it in action and it was a real flurry of movement and attacking action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Soccer coaching session on pressurising opponents – If your players can stop goals being scored against them – they can’t lose the match. The practices in this session develop your players’ ability to pressure the opponent, get “touch tight” and, ultimately, regain possession. By Tony Carr.

 

 

    • The use of overlapping runs when attacking – Put fear into the opposition by using overlapping runs when your team attacks. This type of run gives your players the option of using the runner to receive the ball or as a disguise.

 

 

    • Defending game for different attacking scenarios – Defenders face all sorts of situations when they play in matches – the ball doesn’t just come at them head-on. You need to give them practice so they can deal with the different scenarios they find themselves in. By Michael Beale.

 

    • Soccer coaching game using a sweeper role for defence – The role of a sweeper is given to a player that plays behind the line of defenders. It is that player’s duty to cover the space behind the defence and in front of the keeper, and sweep across to remove the danger of the opponent’s attacks. This is how you can develop the use of a “minesweeper” in your team.

 

 

 

    • No way through – Stopping opposition midfielders from passing through-balls to their attackers is a vital part of a team’s defence. In this session, the nearest midfield player must pressure the ball while others stop a forward pass.

 

 

 

 

    • Teach youngsters how and when to break forward – Most teams will go through spells in matches when they need to defend well. So ensuring there is always an outlet farther up the pitch is essential in transforming defensive situations into attacking ones. The secret to this is in employing a player who can dictate this situation.

 

    • Soccer session for dedicated defenders – I’ve been brushing up on the latest coaching techniques for teaching young players the art of defending. I paid a visit to Chris McGinn, the head coach of the Great Britain deaf football team, who has worked at the Arsenal, Chelsea and QPR.

 

 

    • High and low pressure – In this session, players defend as a unit, defending high up the pitch with full pressure and deep with low pressure.

 

 

 

    • Using the wings in defence – When your defenders win the ball deep in their own half, what do they do with it? I often see a big kick up the pitch, which gives the ball straight back to the opposition.

 

    • The covering defender – When a defender is applying pressure to an attacker with the ball, it’s important they have support in the form of a second or “covering” defender.

 

    • Defend the area – This practice looks at how defenders need to isolate the attacker they are going to try and stop, and work together to win the ball. It’s a bit like watching a nature programme when you see lions stalking a herd of zebra – they single one out, then work together to isolate it.

 

    • 1v1 into 2v1 game – This game tests your forwards’ ability to score in 1v1 and 2v1 situations with a quick switch from defence to attack in different sized areas.

 

    • Hassle a harassed defence – It’s all well and good getting the ball into the danger area. Now you’ve got to make it count.

 

    • 2v1 communication support – This drill is 1v1 on the pitch but the defender receives verbal support from his team mate, which is crucial to developing a 2v1 defensive understanding.

 

    • Attack and defend – at the same time – This game offers players a vast number of in-play options – whether to attack, whether to defend, whether to close down space or whether to press an opponent.

 

    • Continuous defending with four goals – Shooting games are great if you want to coach your players some defensive tactics – especially when the defender must win the ball to create a chance to shoot.

 

    • Keep away in triangles – You can use this exercise to warm your players up before they take part in the defending drills in the main article in this issue. Or use it to warm your players down after they have done the drills.

 

 

    • Volleying to score – Chris McGinn is the head coach of the Great Britain deaf football team and has worked at Arsenal, Chelsea and QPR. He agreed with me that when coaching deaf players, like kids, you need to be concise, visual and patient, so I paid him a visit to see what I could pick up to pass on to my youth players.

 

    • Receiving under pressure – In the old days of coaching, players were told to never pass the ball to another who has a marker tight on them. Nowadays, you see the top teams passing when players are surrounded by the opposition and they can still receive the ball, control it and move it on.

 

    • How to defend the long ball – Terry Call, coach of U12s girls’ side Yellowstone Fire, from Cody, Wyoming, USA, wrote to me recently to ask how his team could combat long-ball opponents.

 

    • Take a chance when defending corners – It was during a match I was refereeing last season that I first came up with the idea of leaving defenders outside the penalty area when defending corners. One of the teams I was refereeing managed to give away a goal at every corner they faced in the first half and were 3-0 down at half time.

 

    • Defending and attacking through-passes – Through passes are a very important part of the game, both for attackers and defenders. Both types of player must react quickly to either capitalise on the chance or clear the danger.

 

    • Strike in pairs – Executed at speed, this is a dangerous attacking move that will help your players use a delicate first touch to beat defenders and set up goalscoring opportunities.

 

 

    • 4v4 dribble or pass – Using games to teach players how to become used to tactical moves is a great way to help them understand attacking and defending as a unit.

 

    • Last line of defence – Use this dynamic team game to teach your defenders how to read the match when battling in desperate one-on-one situations with an opposing striker.

 

    • The fast break soccer drill – It’s 0-0 in the cup and your team is holding on for dear life. Suddenly your players make a quick break out of defence and set up a chance to take a shock lead…

 

 

 

  • Solid As A Rock -Run this training session if you want your players to be as rock solid in defence as Manchester City when facing up to the counterattacking threat of Wigan.