Defend together

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

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.

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.

How to do it

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 restart with their keeper. If the defending team wins the ball, they can break out and counterattack. At corners defenders should set up to zonal mark as shown in the previous session.


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

zonal defending

    1. The session starts with a pass from the keeper of the attacking team to a team-mate and the game goes live on his touch. The attackers have three attacks before the teams switch
    2. The defenders must get into position to cover all areas of the box. Here they opt for two banks of three defenders

Defend zones not man to man

    3. If the ball goes out of play from a defender anywhere on the pitch a corner is given and players must set up for the corner in a zonal pattern
    4. The corner taker is aiming for the centre of the box to maximise his team’s chances of scoring

Defending corners

    5. If the defending team wins the ball they can counterattack and move outside the coned off area
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