The defensive soccer drills and games in this section will help you coach your players to work as a unit at the back. We look at how your players should organise themselves, what are their roles and responsibilities as defenders, and how they should react in different defensive situations.

With work, you should be able to coach your players to control the game at the back and to start great passing moves leading to goals at the other end.

The conductor feature

The Conductor

If you want your players to learn how to win back the ball and retain possession, just follow the instructions of the ‘Conductor’. Why use it Players can get great experience by analysing a game as it is being played. This is a simple defence game – if players can work out the best positions […]

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Defend against the long ball feature

Defend against the long ball

At grassroots level, the long ball is more common and where coaches have less time to drill their back four it can be a real thorn. It takes discipline, organisation and concentration to counter the threat of the long ball – but with your back four well coached the tactic rapidly loses its effect. The […]

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Badlands feature


With the opposition hitting long balls over the ‘Badlands’, this session teaches defenders how to clear the long ball and attackers how to press to prevent the long ball. Why use it This shows teams how the front men can pressure and block long passes. It also shows defenders how to clear them. It is […]

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Block the pass feature

Block The Pass

Set up a 15 x 15 yards area. Put three pairs of players in the area – one pair at either end and a pressing pair in the middle. Here the game starts with the yellow pair who must get the ball to the red pair without the pressing blue pair winning the ball. The […]

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Pivot Defence feature

How to use a pivot player defence

Look at the top teams around the world and all the best have a ball-playing defensive midfielder or what we call a pivot linked to a great goalkeeper. Spurs have Eric Dier, Chelsea bought Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante in the summer, Bayern Munich have Xabi Alonso and Juventus have Claudio Marchisio. Look behind them and […]

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Zonal Marking feature

Should I Try Zonal Marking?

Much maligned by weekend soccer pundits, zonal marking was not just designed for teams at the very top of the game, it’s a system that can be used at every level, even in grassroots youth soccer. The system has its champions and critics, but its use is often just a matter of taste.  Many coaches […]

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Collapse around the ball

Collapse around the ball defending tactic

The term collapse around the ball is used to describe how a team’s defenders drop back to support a team mate pressing the ball. For example, when a pass is played into an opposing forward, one defender goes tight and stops the opponent from turning. Now the other three defenders collapse around the team mate […]

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