EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Clear the present danger

This week’s session is designed to improve defensive heading in and around the penalty box. Defenders will go on a journey of improving their heading in isolation and then in different game situations both unopposed and opposed.

What this session is about

  1. Defensive heading.
  2. Clearing danger from the penalty box.
  3. Marking while keeping an eye on the opponent and the ball.

What to think about

The defender must adjust his feet and jump early to attack the ball.

When heading crosses and aerial balls away from your goal, he must head through the bottom of the ball to gain height and distance on the clearance.

Defenders must then be on the move and ready to react to the next ball.

Set-up

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes10-15 minutes10-15 minutes10-15 minutes10 minutes

What you get your players to do

Place a cone on the ground and then create a diamond shape with poles, as shown in the top picture.

A defender (D) enters the diamond with a server (S) working outside. The server has three balls to throw to the defender. The defender must quickly touch one of the poles and then react to the serve by jumping and heading the ball clear (e.g. touch the front pole and react with quick backward steps to jump and head the ball clear).

After three headers, players swap roles.

The defender (D) has to touch a pole then jumps to head the ball from the server (S) clear.

The defender (D) has to touch a pole then jumps to head the ball from the server (S) clear.


Development

Using half of your pitch, two centre backs (C1 and C2) start at the end of the penalty area.

Two servers (S1 and S2) start 10 yards outside the box. Two wide players (W1 and W2), who will serve crosses, start to the side of S1 and S2. Two dribbling crossers (D1 and D2) start on the corners of the penalty box. All servers have a ball each.

The two centre backs work as individuals to clear three types of ball: 1) A thrown serve to head clear from S1 and S2, 2) react and drop back to defend a diagonal cross into the box from W1 and W2, and 3) react and recover to the near post to defend a cross after a dribbled run by D1 and D2.

You decide which defender out of the centre backs has defended the best. The centre backs swap places with two servers to repeat the practice.

Defenders react to clear the serves from S1 and S2, W1 and W2, and D1 and D2.

Defenders react to clear the serves from S1 and S2, W1 and W2, and D1 and D2.


Game situation

Mark out a 40-yard square. The length of the pitch is split by a halfway line.

Each team has one goalkeeper and two defenders in one half and two forwards inside the opposite half. A neutral wide player (N) is placed in a channel on each wing and plays for the team in possession.

To start, one goalkeeper must throw the ball to his forwards, who combine to pass wide to one of the neutral wide players. The wide player must run to receive the ball and then cross the ball in for the defenders and forwards to compete and either score or head the ball away.

If the ball leaves play, the opposite goalkeeper restarts the game. This game gives the defenders experience of defending crosses from various sides and angles under the pressure of two forwards. The team that scores most goals wins.

Neutral wide players (N) run to cross into the penalty area to create a 2v2 situation.

Neutral wide players (N) run to cross into the penalty area to create a 2v2 situation.


What to call out

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