14-player game to practice zonal defending

Once your players understand the concept of zonal defending, this game allows you to put the system into context and gets them playing a game with lots of corners.

Why use it

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 corners.

Set up

Use a playing area of 40×40 yards. You need a coned off area of 20×20 yards in front of one of the goals. We’ve used 14 players. You need bibs, balls, cones and two goals.

14-player practice for zonal defending

How to play

Play 7v7 including keepers. Each team takes turns to attack and defend the coned off area. The defending team must be in the box when they haven’t got the ball, and if they put it out of play anywhere it is a corner against them. The attacking team plays normally but can’t score from outside the box. If the attacking team put the ball out it goes dead and restarts with their keeper. If the defending team win the ball, they can break out and counter-attack. At corners the defenders should set up to zonal mark as shown in the previous session.

Technique

Players use zonal marking at corners and when defending the box, learning where to support and where to mark.