EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Prepare to defend in small groups

If you want to start the new season well and win more games, the importance of defending cannot be stressed enough. The trouble is, young players just don’t think defending can be fun. To them, it is hard work and not very enjoyable, but they are always vulnerable to a bit of reverse psychology.

Try telling them that without the ball they are not going to have the chance to score, so they need to think about how they are going to get it back first – and that means good defensive play.

And make it fun. Try these four sessions to make defending exciting:

Start with a game that gives an overload to the attackers so your defenders have to work hard and support each other against the overload. Defending in small groups is the perfect session to get your team started on defending principles.

Then you can target specific ways to play in overload situations – 3v2, 2v1 – that occur in every match your team plays. Attacking overloads is a great way to get players working in these small group games; it’s one I use throughout the season with my team.

And don’t forget to make it fun… Multi ball game is an exciting activity where players work in small groups that build up into a small-sided game from 1v1, 2v1, 2v2 and so on. It keeps your players thinking about how and where to defend, depending on how many support players they have.

Finally, give your players a good workout in pressing and winning the ball back, which is key to creating counter-attack situations. Hunters is a great fun game that gets players working hard in small groups to win the ball and turn the tables on their opponents.

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