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.

There’s nothing worse for an attacking player than going past a defender only to find another one in his way.

You can get past one, but two? The odds are stacked against it. It also means the attacker will veer away from a direct route to goal – the second defender can “steer” the attacker wide of the penalty area.

So how do you get your soccer players to cover? This game is a great way to coach defensive positions.

What you get your players to do

Stage 1: In an area 30 yards by 10 yards, the ball is played to an attacker, who tries to dribble to the end line. The two defenders try to prevent the attacker from doing so by forcing their opponent wide. The first defender challenges the attacker, the second defender provides cover.

Stage 2: Switch players’ positions so everyone has a turn at being the covering defender.

What you tell your players to do

  • Force the attacker down the touchline.
  • The defenders need to stop the ball from being played forward.
  • The covering defender should stand at a slight angle from the first defender, towards his goal.
  • Communicate early and clearly.

What to look for

  • The covering player being in position to make an effective
  • challenge if the first defender is beaten.
  • Good communication. For example, the covering defender advising their team mate to “get closer” or “force them down the line”.
  • Making the forwards’ play predictable.


The attacker playing the first pass joins in the attack to make a 2v2. 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.

This game is from Soccer Coach Smart Sessions.

For more soccer coaching tips and products visit Soccer Coaching Club.