Attack Your Space

Use this effective training drill to help your young players understand the benefits of using zonal marking at corners.

Why use it

This is the way Rafa Benitez would defend a corner using his favoured zonal marking system. In grassroots soccer the defenders would line up and attack the space in a zone in front of them – they wouldn’t go backwards, just forwards.

Set up

Use half of your normal pitch. We’ve used 12 players in this session and you will need bibs, balls and a goal.

How to play

For the defending team you need seven players plus a goalkeeper in the penalty area and one player outside as an outlet for the defending team. The attacking team has a corner taker, plus two attackers in the penalty area. The defending players must make sure that as the ball comes in from the corner they cover those areas marked in the diagram. The movement of the attackers is irrelevant and they only defend against them if the attacker enters the defending player’s zone.


This is a very regimental way of defending and can be very effective to cover the whole of the penalty area in front of goal. It is very good for grassroots teams and the only way an attack will breach the defence is if a good cross can get the attacker behind the defence.

zonal marking

    1. The defending team should set up like this and each player should defend the area just in front of them by attacking the space if an attacker moves into it
    2. The attackers should move around and have a game plan with the corner taker to move into the area he is crossing into

Zonal marking

    3. This player is the outlet for the defenders because if they can get the ball to him a counterattack is very much on the cards
    4. Here the corner goes into the zone of the front defender who attacks it and clears it before the attacker can get on the ball

Zonal marking

    5. A ball into the heart of defence can be the hardest to clear and players must try to head any ball in their zone under pressure from an attacker
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