Dealing with a direct style of play is very hard as it forces your players to deal with lots of physical confrontation and aerial battles. It is vitally important your players understand how to react to this type of pressure and are aware that communication is crucial. MORE
5 tips for defending the long ball
The long ball over the top of the defence can be difficult to defend against in youth soccer, so I’ve put together five drills and activities to help you coach defending against teams that play long ball tactics…
One of the best ways to stop long balls is to get strikers to press high up the pitch and block the long pass early. Badlands teaches attackers how to press to prevent the long ball and defenders how to clear the long ball.
Key to playing against long balls is the reaction time of your players. Read and react is a 12-player game that gets your team reacting quickly and blocking the long ball to prevent opposition strikers breaking away.
A great way to practice defending against long balls played either in the air or on the ground, is to use the practice plans Dealing with long balls and Defending long balls. They are both excellent sessions that put players into situations they would face on match days.
And finally, read my article Playing against long ball teams, which puts the tactic into context and explains how to set up to counter it.