Defending in small groups

This is all about defending in small numbers where it’s common for one or two defenders to find themselves in situations where they are exposed to an overload of attackers.

Why use it

Great session for practising overload defending and getting attackers to exploit overloads

Set up

You need balls, bibs, cones and goals. Set up an area 40 x 30. We used 13 players in the session

How to do it

Split your players into two teams – one of 5 players and one of 6 players plus 2 goalkeepers. The goalkeeper starts the session with a pass out to the three players. Ahead of them are two defenders. The attackers must progress into the opposing half, exchanging passes and looking to fashion a shot on goal. Defenders must organise themselves well, tracking the ball but also looking for attackers running into space. The move will end either with a goal or a defensive clearance. Now switching direction, the two defenders become attackers and are joined by another player from the side. The three initial attackers exit the pitch and return to their gate. They are replaced by two players who now act as defenders, thus creating a new 3v2 overload.


Concentration and communication are key plus first touch and quick passing.

Defending against overloads

    1. Playing a 3v2 the goalkeeper starts the session playing into the team of three
    2. The two defenders must organise and track the ball with one covering the attackers in space

Picking up attackers in pairs

    3. The attackers must progress into the opposition half using good movement and passes
    4. Combination play gives the attacking team chance to get behind the defenders and shoot at the goal

    5. Once a shot has been taken or the ball cleared the defenders and attackers switch roles
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