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. Give your players a lesson in compactness MORE
In the zone
Teaching your players the art of defensive positioning and how to work as a unit will help stop opposition attacks and that means conceding fewer goals.
What this session is about
- Zonal defending.
- Forcing play sideways and back, and preventing penetration.
What to think about
Defenders should retain the team’s “shape”: centrally – form a triangle pointing at the ball; wide – form an angled line back from the ball.
The defender nearest to the opponent with the ball must put pressure on him.
The covering defender must be at angle and “goalside” (nearer to his own goal than the man in possession) while behind the nearest defender, close enough to pressure ball if his team mate is beaten.
The third defender needs to add depth on defending and cover the back post.
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What you get your players to do
Split the playing area into three equal zones running the length of the playing area. Within each zone, place a cone goal at either end.
Each player is assigned a goal that only they can defend directly, although their team mates can provide passive support.
This means all players have access to the entire pitch but can only tackle opponents in their own zone.
The team in possession can score in any goal in this 3v3 contest. Once a team loses possession, its players must return to their zone to defend, i.e., centre back, left back, right back.
But defenders are not confined to these areas. The zones act as a guide to let them know that when the opposition enters the area, they take the lead in defending.
Add an extra player – a midfielder/attacker – to each team to create a 4v4. Both teams set up in a 3-1 formation with the three defenders still responsible for protecting their own goals.
Restart play with a pass-in if the ball goes out of play.
Now remove the zones and play a 6v6 game (including goalkeepers), with a single goal at each end. Both teams use 3-1-1 formations.
The idea of covering areas will be retained by defenders and communication should be improved.
The team that scores most goals wins.