Defending in twos

This fast and frantic session offers a series of challenges in different zones and encourages players to apply defensive pressure the second that the opposition touch the ball. The four games in this activity provide players with opportunities to learn individual technique as well as visual cues that can help them decide when and where to provide cover.

Set up

Play a series of 2v2 games on the four different shaped zones shown in the diagram. Each zone has a coach or a server feeding balls in.

How to play it

Divide players into pairs and play eight one-minute games. Each time a ball goes out of play, the server plays in a new ball to make games short and intensive. After each one-minute game, the losing team does five press ups for each goal’s difference in the scores. After each game rotate players to a different zone and play different opponents. Each zone provides a unique mental challenge, so soccer intelligence is activated too. With eight games, rotate to every field twice.


This encourages players to apply pressure straight from the receiver’s first touch, with defenders adopting an angle of approach that denies options and protects vulnerable areas such as the goal and the passing lanes.

Different types of defending

    1. Play 2v2 in each zone. If teams score, they transition immediately to defence
    2. Balls are played in to keep the tempo high. If teams concede in zones 1, 2 and 3, they receive the next ball
    3. In zone 3, play a directional game in an area of 18×12 yards with two goals

    4. In zone 1, play a 2v2 directional game in an area of 12×18 yards. Each team defends the two goals at one side and attacks the other two goals
    5. In zone 2, play a directional game in a 10×10 yard zone with goals in diagonally opposite corners

Overloads in defending

    6. In zone 4, play 2v2 in a 12-yard triangle with goals near each corner. If a team scores in any goal, they get the next ball and have to score in one of the other goals
    7. Players rotate zones and should try to challenge each team. Ensure that teams do not play the same team twice in the same zone
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