EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Defending high crosses

Being able to head the ball away from danger is a key job for every defender. Teach your players how to perfect this skill with this session.

What this session is about

  1. Defensive headers.
  2. Marking.

What to think about

  • Leave space between defender and keeper so the keeper can claim a misdirected cross – but not so much space that it encourages a dangerous delivery behind the defenders.
  • Be “goal side” and “ball side” of the opponent they are marking so they can see both.
  • Attack the ball, defending the space in front of the attacker – do not let the attacker get across in front of the defender.
  • Use correct heading technique.
  • Clear the danger from the penalty area – width, distance, height – and try again if unsuccessful first time. Clear behind the goal if necessary, but not across it.
  • Step up after the clearance so the offside rule favours the defending team and help regain the team’s shape.

Set-up

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

What you get your players to do

Work in the final third of the pitch. Have three groups of four:

Two crossers on either flank along with a neutral player and a line of attackers next to a line of attackers in the centre. To start, a crosser plays a one-two with the neutral player, dribbles down the line and crosses.

A defender and attacker run back, but the attacker is passive and the defender looks to head clear.

Repeat from the other side to ensure the defender deals with inswinging and outswinging crosses and regularly rotate players.

The crosser dribbles and crosses after a onetwo. A defender (D) and attacker (A) track back but the attacker remains passive.

The crosser dribbles and crosses after a onetwo. A defender (D) and attacker (A) track back but the attacker remains passive.


Development

Repeat as before but this time add a keeper and play 2v2 chasing back. The attackers/defenders and crossers repeat the drill maintaining their roles for several attempts before switching positions.

  • To progress, play 3 defenders v 2 attackers but allow a third attacker to join from the other wing when the ball is crossed.
As before but this time have two defenders and attackers as the cross comes in.

As before but this time have two defenders and attackers as the cross comes in.


Game situation

Use half a pitch with two five-yard coned “goals” on the halfway line.

Play 6v6 including the goalkeeper. The defence plays a 3-2 formation but the three cannot go beyond the D of the penalty area.

Attackers play a 4-2 formation and starting with the two midfielders, they look to score.

Goals scored from a cross count double while the defence looks to clear then dribble through a coned goal to score.

Always restart with the attacking team and switch roles halfway through.

The attacking team crosses and the defence/ keeper has to deal with the cross.

The attacking team crosses and the defence/ keeper has to deal with the cross.


What to call out

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