Closing Down Opponents

Central defenders and supporting players have a vital role in stopping the opposition’s build up play. Players will work on the defending angle of approach to try and force the attacker away.

Why use it

The defender’s job is to block the pass, win possession or run the ball out of play to prevent teams advancing on goal

Set up

You need balls, bibs and cones. Set up an area 20 x 10 yards. We worked in groups of 6 players and a server in the session.

How to do it

Split the players into two teams of three plus the server. One player from each team goes in the area the other two go on opposite sides of the area. The server plays to one of the players who becomes the attacker and the other player becomes the defender. The defending player reacts to the pass by closing the pass receiver and trying to stop him getting the ball to the end zone. The attacking player can use his team mates on the sided but they should be restricted to two passes (one if they are advanced enough). Repeat with the other team as attackers. Make sure all players take turns to be in the middle.


Defending 1v1 in midfield, shadowing, pressing, intercepting and tackling.

Closing down pressing play

    1. Play starts with a pass to one of the teams who become the attackers
    2. Immediately the defending player must close down the attacker and try to prevent movement forwards

Closing down

    3. The attacking player has two options, to dribble or try a one-two with a team mate
    4. The defending player must anticipate and try to use angles of approach and cut down on passing options

Closing down to force play wide

    5. Here the attacker has been forced back and can only pass to his team mate to try and keep the ball
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