Soccer coaching drill for a defender run and pass

This soccer coaching drill session looks at how defenders who run out from the back with the ball can create overload situations in midfield, making them a valuable attacking weapon.
You need to get your defenders moving quickly with the ball out of defence in to the available space. You are looking for an end product. In this soccer (football) drill the end product is a pass but in a match it could be a shot or a cross.

What to think about in the soccer drill

  • Is there space ahead to exploit?

  • First-touch should push the ball well out in front.
  • Use “laces” to push the ball.
  • Run quickly in a straight line.
  • Take as few touches as possible – three over 30m.
  • Head up to assess options.
  • Play an accurate, composed pass.

Set up an area of 40 x 30 yards, divided into two 40 x 15 yard channels. Place two gates about 5-10 yards in from the ends along the centre line.

Soccer drill to get defenders running out from the back for overload

How to run the soccer drill

  • Split players into two groups and put at diagonal opposite ends.

  • The first player runs with the ball before passing it through a gate across the grid to the second player, who repeats the soccer drill in the opposite direction.
  • Once a player has completed their pass, they join the second line.

You can advance this soccer drill by getting both groups to start with a ball at the same time. After the player controls the ball, the next player immediately behind them in the group gives chase.

Make sure players alternate running with the ball and chasing.

Play a small-sided game

  • Play 6v6 in an area approximately 50 x 40 yards, split into three zones, with three defenders plus a goalkeeper playing two attackers in the two outer zones.

  • After two passes any one of the defenders can break out with the ball into the middle and attacking thirds of the pitch.
  • Once the opposition regains possession the defender returns to the defensive third. If the ball goes out of play or a goal is scored play restarts with the goalkeeper.

Tony Carr is the Academy Director of West Ham United in the English Premier League and the editor of the Smart Sessions soccer coaching plans – they come in advanced and core versions. You can get Smart Sessions dropping into your inbox every week by clicking here.

Click here for soccer coaching tips to get players passing out from the back.