Coping with aerial bombardment

A great way to put your defenders under pressure at training is to get your players to bombard your best three defenders with high balls into the penalty area so they are constantly having to clear them, says Dave Clarke.

Prepare to defend against long ball tactics

You often find on match day that you have prepared your team for everything except an aerial bombardment from a team with big, strong players who, whenever they get the chance, blast the ball into the penalty area. It’s no good having great defenders who can take the ball off an attacker if they cannot head it away when they are under attack.
Players need to generate power

When heading the ball tell your defenders they must have plenty of power. Tell them to arch their backs and swing their heads forward to get the power from their shoulders to head the ball away, or to judge the flight of the ball to volley it away.

Don’t let the ball bounce

In the diagram the defenders are faced with balls into the box which they must prevent from bouncing. It is good for communication, movement, volleying and heading.
How to coach it

1. Use three defenders and put four other players around the 18 yard box with three balls each.
2. Players kick the ball into the box from various angles trying to get the ball to bounce in the area.
3. They can use a drop-kick, high cross, or driven cross.
4. Defenders must not let the ball hit the ground.
5. Play until all the balls are used up then change players.
A great way to teach younger players

A fun way to learn heading is to head the ball over a tennis or volleyball net. Players need to direct the ball upwards to clear the net which is great for practising defensive heading. It also helps you teach how to control and direct a ball properly.

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