Turned away

If you want your defenders to learn to come out on top in a one-on-one situation with an opponent, use this activity to teach them what to do and what to look for. This will help players to improve their understanding of how to stop attackers turning with the ball. It will also teach them to read the cues of the passing player to help them spot when they can try to intercept the ball.

Set up

Set up an area of 20×10 yards with a goal at each end. Players work in threes, so you need to set up areas for each group of three. You need balls, bibs, cones and two target goals.

How to play it

It’s a 1v1 game with a neutral server who plays the ball in to the advantage of whichever player is attacking. Whenever the ball goes out the neutral player restarts the game. Players play continuously for two minutes. When the neutral player passes the ball in, it allows defenders to work on their defensive starting positions on the field and also allows you to work on their ability to read the game to step in to win the ball.


Players should be looking to read the cues of the passing player to see when to try to intercept the ball. Players must also judge the distance they need to travel and the speed of the pass, so that they are not overcommitting and getting beaten.

Body position to defend

    1. The neutral server plays the ball into the area. Here the defender’s starting position is too tight to the attacker, opening up space behind for the attacker to exploit the pass
    2. The defender’s body shape is wrong, as it needs to be open to be able to see both the attacker and the passing player

Anticipate the pass

    3. The red defender’s starting position is much better and he is in a position where he is able to stop any penetration forward by the white attacker
    4. The defender is close enough to be able to read the cues of the passer – his head goes down as he steps into ball. The defender sees this and cuts in to intercept the pass

Support play

    5. If the attacker plays back to the neutral player, then the red defender drops back again to stop the penetration. The defender doesn’t follow the ball as the attacker may run off the back of them and get in behind
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