EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

On the mark

The ability to mark an opponent closely is one of the key aspects of defending. This session will help you develop this technique in your players.

What this session is about

  1. Guarding an opponent, so it is difficult for them to receive the ball from or play an easy pass to a team mate.
  2. Tracking the movement of an opposition player closely.

What to think about

Tell defenders they need to:

  • Get close to an opponent while the ball is travelling.
  •  Be goal-side of an opponent but able to see the ball and opponent – don’t stand directly behind because the view is obscured.
  •  Threaten to intercept the ball but don’t commit unless sure.
  •  Delay the opponent – only tackle when sure.
  •  Not allow attackers to receive and turn.
  •  Track opposition attackers.
  •  Keep their concentration.
  •  Keep their centre of gravity low and be slightly side-on.
  •  Communicate at all times with team mates.

Set-up

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes10 minutes15 minutes15 minutes10 minutes

What you get your players to do

Position one target player/server at each end of the area and play 1v1 in the middle, as shown in the top picture.

The object of the drill is for the attacker in the 1v1 to receive a ball from a server, turn and pass to the target player at the other end. The target player in possession now serves the ball to the attacker to repeat the drill in the opposite direction.

The defender tries to block the pass made by the attacker to the server. Rotate all four players so that they all practise marking.

A defender tries to intercept passes made by an opponent towards servers at either end of the pitch.

A defender tries to intercept passes made by an opponent towards servers at either end of the pitch.


Development

Increase the size of the pitch, mark out two 10-yard square target areas, and use one ball between eight players.

One target player stands in either target area while a 3v3 game is played in the rest of the area.

As before, the object of the practice is for the attacking team to move the ball from one target player/server to the other and back again.

Each player in the defending team is assigned an opposition attacker to mark, who in turn marks them when the team’s roles are switched.

Also, be sure to regularly swap a player from each team for a target/server, so that everyone gets some time as a defender.

To progress, if possession is won by the defending team, then the teams immediately swap roles. Defenders can now choose to mark the nearest player when their team loses possession.

Teams earn a point by successfully passing the ball to a player in either end zone. Opponents try to block passes.

Teams earn a point by successfully passing the ball to a player in either end zone. Opponents try to block passes.


Game situation

Play a small-sided game in an area with five-yard end zones at each end.

Teams score a point by dribbling the ball into the opponent’s end zone or by passing to a team mate in the end zone. Both defenders and attackers can only stay in an end zone for three seconds.

Each team has a “sweeper” who is restricted to playing in his own half and can only take two touches before passing.

He can also tackle attackers who have broken free of their markers. If the ball goes out of play, restart with a passin. Rotate the sweeper regularly with other team mates. The team that scores most points wins.

Each team tries to stop the other dribbling or passing the ball into an end zone. “Sweepers” act as a last resort to challenge attackers.

Each team tries to stop the other dribbling or passing the ball into an end zone. “Sweepers” act as a last resort to challenge attackers.


What to call out

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