Secure the box

This session helps defenders understand the importance of marking tightly in the penalty area and not losing their man. It also helps players to read the game and clear the ball and to keep your hands and arms by your side when play is in the penalty area.

Why use it

The two central defenders have to be excellent at reading the game, especially when the ball is played into a crowded penalty area from set pieces or open play. Staying calm and making sure the ball is cleared is vital to stopping the opposition scoring rebound goals.

Set up

Use the penalty area of your pitch. We’ve used 10 players including a keeper. You need plenty of balls, plus bibs, cones and a goal.

How to play

Split your group into three teams of three players with a keeper in goal. Two teams work inside the area, with one team attacking and one defending. The third team works outside the box around the edge of it. They have two balls each to play into the attacking team who try to score. Each game lasts for six balls and then swap teams around.


The defenders must mark man-to-man and be strong, making tackles and blocks to stop shots on goal.

    1. The defending team must man mark, with each player picking up an attacker
    2. The players on the edge of the area have two balls each to pass to the attackers

    3. The serving players must pass into an attacker who is open to the pass
    4. Here the central defender saves his team after his team-mate had got out of position with the attacker he was marking

    5. The balls should be played in quickly to keep a frantic penalty area pace to the game
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