Individual skills – cool under pressure

Use this exciting game to encourage your defenders to be calm on the ball and confident in their passing, it will also encourage defenders to shoot when they see an opportunity during the session.

Why use it

Having a defender cool enough to keep calm under pressure is an asset.

Set up

Set up a 40×30-yard area with a 10 yard zone at each end of the pitch. We’ve used 10 players in this session. You need bibs, balls, cones and two normal goals.

How to play

Play two teams of five, including keepers, with a keeper and a defender in each end zone and a 3v3 in the middle zone. Play as normal in the middle but players cannot go out of this zone and must shoot from within it. If the ball goes dead in this zone, a normal throw-in takes place. The defender must be available to give an outlet for a pass and is allowed three touches in his zone before passing. He can also dribble into the centre zone and join in the attack. Any attack must involve a pass to the player in the end zone.


In the centre the game will be fast and furious but the defending zone provides an outlet to calm things down and give defenders confidence to play out of defence by either dribbling or passing to a team-mate.

Cool defending

    1. In the centre zone teams play a 3v3 with normal rules, trying to create space to take a shot at goal, but they must stay in the zone
    2. No players can enter the end zones occupied by the defender and the keeper

Cool defending

    3. The defender can dribble the ball out of the area but he has only three touches
    4. When under attack the defenders can press outside the zone to make it more difficult for the attackers

    5. An accurate long pass from the end zone can set up a team mate, but the pass must be one of the defender’s three touches
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