Try a sweeper training drill to improve defence skills

With this soccer drill you are giving all your players a chance to play a sweeper role. This will get them running all over the pitch and help them learn how support play can stop opposition attacks.

A sweeper basically covers the defence. At 11-a-side they will be covering the back four, at 7-a-side they will be covering the back two. It means you have extra cover in defence – since they are not burdened by any specific marking assignments, the sweeper can go wherever they are needed.

Soccer coaching drill tips

You want a fast player who can read the game, tackle and pass over long distances. But when you practise this soccer drill, get all your players to try the position because you are developing their soccer brains and soccer skills by getting them to make decisions and organise the team all over the pitch;

  • Who do they support?

  • Which players are most vulnerable and need help?
  • Is the space left behind the defenders covered?
  • Who is covering when defenders join the attack?

    image showing sweepers covering defenders

4v4 drill

In this soccer coaching drill, four attackers are running at four defenders with a sweeper behind them. The sweeper can start in a central position behind the defence, but from there he may chase after a through ball or sprint wide to cover a defender and create a 2v1 situation.

Change the number of attackers and defenders to suit your players' skills – so, if the attackers are struggling to get through to the sweeper, take out a defender. If the defence is struggling, take out an attacker.

Let each sweeper cover four plays in this drill, then change them.