Key defensive areas – individual and pairs

Bangor City first team manager Kevin Nicholson looks at defending in and around the penalty area in a variety of situations. This session tackles defending as an individual, a pair. For defending as a unit go to KEY DEFENSIVE AREAS – THE WHOLE UNIT.

Why use it

The way the session is built up helps players to understand their various roles and responsibilities and the key defensive priority of protecting the goal.

Set up

You need balls, bibs, cones and a goal. Use half your normal pitch. We used 15 players in the session

How to do it

Split the group into four defenders and six attackers, plus two full-backs who serve long aerial balls from just over the halfway line. Attackers line up behind two cones 10 yards apart, placed 12 yards from the 18-yard box. Attackers cannot shoot in the shaded areas only from inside the penalty area not shaded. The defender’s main task is to keep the ball out of the area, rather than win possession. Defenders rotate after each phase. 1v1s The defender clears a long flighted ball back in the direction it came, either using a header or side-foot volley, and without it bouncing. He then has to react to a 1v1 with an attacker. 2v2s
As before, except this time after the aerial ball it’s a 2v2. The second defender must provide cover and support, track runs, and communicate danger. The pressuring defender must look to cut off the option of the second attacker. Finally two attacking wingers are added, who must deliver crosses into the penalty area using the fewest number of touches


Blocking, intercepting and pressing are key


Penalty area defending

    1. The fullback starts by delivering a long aerial ball towards the penalty area. Defenders aim to show attackers into the shaded areas
    2. The coach nominates an attacker, who dribbles the ball out to create a 1v1. He can only shoot once inside the central part of the penalty box


Defending in pairs

    3. Another ball is played in and one defender attacks the ball the other covers the players
    4. One attacker dribbles the ball while a second attacker joins to create a 2v2 situation

    5. Two wingers are added and defenders try to force attackers to play back to the wingers then get in position to defend the cross
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