One of the most important topics in defensive play is compactness. A key principle of compactness is that the playing area of the opposition is minimised so there is less space for them to attack in. Think Atletico Madrid and RB Leipzig who quickly drop into a compact shape when under attack – it works wonders for them.
Compactness can be defined as the tight positioning between teammates both vertically and horizontally. Compact teams are organised and well trained to keep their shape and work as an interconnected unit. The spaces between the players should be restricted, with the defence, midfield, and attack close enough to communicate with each other.
The shorter distances between individual players makes penetrative passes more difficult as the passing lanes are minimised, whilst multiple players can challenge the same through ball.
In most situations the optimal area to control is the centre of the pitch where most attacks will develop. It also offers a great platform to win which gives a greater range of potential movements whilst it offers the best platform to access alternative spaces.
It is a great tactic for youth teams because by using it they can control the game without the ball and make it almost impossible for the opposition to penetrate the defence. This forces teams to try long balls and crosses which a well organised team will find easier to defend.
It’s a new section of the website that we’ve developed to introduce and develop key principles of the game without limiting the amount of time players spend with a ball at their feet at training sessions.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve created a new lesson plan each week to deliver to your players online, building a valuable set of lessons for you to go back to time and again.
Soccer Coach Weekly subscribers can immediately access all the materials they need for the first 9 lessons including compactness:
I’ve just released my latest podcast Touchline Tales: Episode Two – Goalkeepers. This is a conversation with the goalkeeper coaches at my club and has some very good and interesting advice. It is hard to come up with ideas for warm ups and sessions for goalkeepers but also it isn’t easy to work on the mental side of coaching so listen out for some help in that area.
How well do you and your players know the Principles of Play? Give your players lessons online. This unique online class will help your players master the basic tactics and skills used in one of the Defending Principles of Play – Compactness MORE
In this podcast Dave Clarke talks to Go4Goal lead coach and head goalkeeper coach Jon Lewis and goalkeeper coach Salvador Espinosa about a whole heap of coaching things, including return to play, best practice and why it helps to be a little bit crazy!: MORE
Possession is so important it is worth spending as much time as you can on getting players reacting to having the ball and making decisions to keep it. They must be switched on and you must get them to look for supporting runs and make the runs themselves. MORE
Keeping possession of the ball is key to winning games – if you have it your opponents haven't got it. There are tactical musts that go hand in hand with a possession game. Being aware of where the ball is and where your teammates are is essential so get your players to have a picture in their head of what they’re going to do with the ball before it comes to them. MORE
Over the next few weeks I plan to work on box-to-box passing moves – counter-attacking play that involves passing and receiving between the lines, well-timed movements and crossover runs, and the exploitation of space behind the opposition’s back line. MORE
One of the things I have done a lot of work on this season is getting my team to play right to the very end of matches. Not only that, whether we are losing or not in the last 10 minutes as a collective we up our game and try to score a goal. It helps us end on a positive note. MORE
Simple answer is “Yes”, particularly if your players regularly struggle to hang on to the attackers they are marking, or if they fail to organise themselves each time they face a corner or free kick. Given a set position, your players will grasp what they have to do and respond well to their part of the defensive responsibility. MORE