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Defending

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.

How to coach the covering defender – part 1

Covering defender

in Defending, Practice plans

When a defender is applying pressure to an attacker with the ball it's important that they have back up in the form of a second or covering defender. That's to ensure that if the attacker beats the first defender, any progress is stifled by the second one. MORE

Out of possession tactics

in Defending, Tactics

Out of possession teams can control the game by forcing play into areas of the pitch that are easier to control. With positional play opponents can be forced into areas that are less dangerous to the defending team MORE

Transitions: react to change in possession

in Attacking, Defending, Tactics

Transitions are a vital part of match play - players must react quickly to winning or losing the ball because in these instances games are won or lost. It is vital that as soon as the ball is won or lost teams react instantly. An attacking team that has lost the ball must work hard to immediately win it back and a team that has won the ball must attack at pace. MORE

How to coach the next Michael Carrick - part 1

The next… Fernandinho

in Defending, Practice plans

Manchester City's Fernandinho has shown how a defensive midfielder can intercept the ball to break up attacks and then begin a counter attack. This session will help your players emulate the Manchester United star. MORE

Anticipate long passes

in Defending, Small Sided Games

It is important to press defenders and not give them chance to play long passes that can catch an unwary defence out. Coaching players to force the player at the back to play short gives chances for team mates to push on and win possession. MORE

Transition in defence

in Defending

When a team wins or loses the ball, they have to react. Here the defenders must react quickly or they will lose a goal. It encourages teams to close the centre of the pitch, in order to force play away from the goal. MORE

Coach better defending

in Defending, Email newsletters

It is not easy coaching in a pandemic. But one thing I know my players like doing is to give them a task to do which involves watching a match on TV. Say it's Charlie who plays left wingback ... he's a Chelsea fan so his task is to watch Ben Chilwell and give good things or bad things that happen when he is defending. The players love it! MORE

High pressing

in Defending, Tactics

Use this session to teach players to press opponents high up the pitch – so they can win the ball nearer to the goal. By pressing quickly and working together, attackers will win the ball back nearer the opponent’s goal and have a greater chance of scoring. MORE

Let’s stick together

in Defending, Tactics

The defending team is coached how to get into formation in a match when they have lost the ball and how to quickly assemble a zonal defence. After using our first session, run this and allow players to make decisions on where to defend at the corner. MORE

Press or protect

in Defending, Rondos

Play this like a Rondo where if you split the defenders and hit the cone keeping possession of the ball. The pressing team must try to win the ball and prevent the possession team hitting the cone. MORE

How to coach group defence drills- part 1

“Gang up” defending

in Defending, Practice plans

When a defender puts pressure on an attacker, it is vital that another defender stays close by in a supporting position. This session is designed to improve how your players “gang up” in defensive situations. In doing so, they will improve their understanding, positioning and teamwork. MORE

Press to win the ball

Do it yourself

in Defending, Tactics

This session helps you coach players to understand that they have to stay close and not let opponents get free or they will give the game away. MORE

Defending for all age groups

in Defending, Email newsletters

When I have been working with different age groups over the coronavirus-extended summer break I often use the same coaching activity. Sometimes it takes a simple tweak – size of pitch, number of touches, overloads – to make the session suitable for that age group. MORE

Defend together

in Defending, Practice plans

Improve your team’s ability to defend when under constant pressure from opposition attacks. Remember that when your rivals don’t have the ball, they can’t score a goal. MORE

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