EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Help! my defence is leaking goals

QUESTION


How can I offer an instant confidence boost to my team’s leaky defence?

ANSWER


The secret here is to take the pressure away from the defenders themselves. More than any other position on the pitch, defenders rely on confidence and belief. If you don’t believe me, ask a defender who stops an attacker in a 1v1 whether he believes he will repeat the feat next time around. He’ll almost certainly say ‘yes’.

However, confidence can work the other way too, and after a run of leaking goals, your backline may well be running on low reserves of belief. The trick is to take the pressure off those players specifically, and place it onto the shoulders of the rest of the team. So instead of defending as a three or four, now defend with all 11 players.

Thus, pressing is the name of the game, with strikers tracking back, midfielders squeezing space in the middle and wingers coming back to help in deep defensive flank positions.

Maybe, for a game or two, suspend some of your usual attacking ploys and concentrate purely on the whole team defending deep. I guarantee doing this will see an improvement in defensive performances. Subsequently, confidence will increase.

When you have that bedrock to build upon, you can gradually allow strikers to move back to their natural attacking game, but ensure for as long as you need that players are pressing high up the pitch and tracking back to help team-mates.

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