EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Defending in threes

In the final part of our recent series on defending we look at defending as a unit. This practice improves the shape and positioning of defenders when defending in threes.

What this session is about

Building a good understanding between the team’s defenders and developing their appreciation of the positions they must take up
relative to each other, the attackers and the ball.

What to think about

  •  Do the players move as a group?
    When defending as a unit it is important that players are aware not just of the different roles, but also of how their role changes when the ball is moved from side to side by the attacking team. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link so the players must
    work to improve together.

Set-up

  •  30 x 20 yard area.
Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes10 minutes15 minutes15 minutes10 minutes

What you get your players to do

To start, the coach calls out a number and the players must take up the correct defensive positioning on the mannequins (nearest pressures, next covers and furthest provides depth). The illustrations on the right illustrate the positions the defenders should be taking relative to the number highlighted.

Start by learning positioning relative to stationary opponents.

Start by learning positioning relative to stationary opponents.


Development

When the coach calls “go” the defenders must run past the mannequins and defend their goal in a live 3v3 game. Look at how the team defend, does the nearest player pressure the attacker and what do the other players do to support?
This development can be run with a goalkeeper.

The defenders must now adapt their positioning relative to the movement of the attackers and the ball.

The defenders must now adapt their positioning relative to the movement of the attackers and the ball.


Game situation

On the coach’s call the attacker must dribble into the area, the nearest defending player must pressure the ball whilst the other defenders mark the other forwards.
If the defenders win the ball they can break out for their chance to score in either of the small goals at the opposite end. The two goals encourage the defenders to play the ball out wide rather than through the congested central area.

The defenders now have the chance to score at the opposite end if they are able to win the ball from the attackers.

The defenders now have the chance to score at the opposite end if they are able to win the ball from the attackers.


What to call out

  •  “Work with each other”
  •  “Nearest player press the ball”
  •  “Cover and support”
  •  “Think about your role”
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