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.
In the soccer drill there are three things I want players to concentrate on:
- Staying within touching distance of opponent.
- Keeping focused on where the opponent is.
- Keeping focused on where the ball is.
Focus is key to this type of marking. One lapse and you've lost your player, which leaves a problem for the rest of your team to solve.
The other reason to focus is because I have seen numerous instances where a player has been tightly marking an opponent but when his team wins the ball back, he is still close to the opponent. He must focus so that he can immediately move away and find space for himself.
Tight marking drill
Teams that master the art of tight marking can make the opposition's task of scoring goals much harder, which means you have more chance of winning the game. It puts your players in control of the game.
- Use a large area, depending on number of players – the penalty area normally works well for around 12 players.
- You need to split your group into twos.
- One player is an attacker and one a defender, no ball.
- Attackers can go anywhere within the playing area and should try to get away from the defender.
- When you blow your whistle, players should freeze and the defender should still be within a yard of the attacker they are marking.
- Switch roles after five minutes.
Once you have practised this drill a number of times, set up a small-sided game where the players win points for tight marking as well as scoring goals.
Click here for another soccer drill aimed at improving marking skills.