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

  • The covering defender should be in a position to make an effective challenge if the first defender is beaten.

  • Stand at a slight angle and goal-side of the first defender.
  • Communicate early and clearly – for example, advising the team mate to "get closer" or "force them down the line".

Soccer drill set up

I use this soccer training drill to coach players to cover a team mate and direct the attacker away from goal.

  • You need to use four players – two attackers versus two defenders – in each group.

  • Each playing area measures approx 10 x 30 yards.

    image of defenders with a second back up defender in place against attack and 2v2 drill

Running this soccer drill

  • Attacker 1, acting as a server, passes the ball to attacker 2.

  • Attacker 2 attempts to dribble to the end line.
  • Defender 1 challenges the attacker.
  • Defender 2 provides cover.

Extend the drill

After playing the first pass, attacker 1 joins in the attack to make a 2v2 situation. The defenders will now have to constantly switch roles depending on who is nearest the ball, with the covering defender becoming the main defender and vice versa.