Soccer coaching session on pressurising opponents

If your players can stop goals being scored against them – they can’t lose the match. The practices in this session develop your players’ ability to pressure the opponent, get “touch tight” and, ultimately, regain possession. By Tony Carr.

When coaching players to attack, it is important you give players freedom so your team has an element of surprise. However, when coaching defending, the opposite is true. Defenders need clear, simple instructions of “do this and this will happen” to ensure all players are on the same line of thinking.

Examples of simple defensive instructions you can say are:

“Nearest player pressures the ball”

“Stay on your feet”

“Slow the attack down”

“Force play away from goal”

Coaching the first session

Use the centre circle of your pitch and up to eight players inside it with a bib in the back of their shorts so that it hangs as a tail.

The aim of this fun game is for players to steal other’s bibs and eliminate them from the game. The last player in the area with a bib is the winner.

This simple game has the players putting pressure on opponents to steal their bibs and also watching their own backs by keeping an eye out for danger.


How to develop it

Use a penalty area and a goalkeeper and use two teams of four players, as in the middle picture.

To begin, player 1 from the first team passes diagonally to player 2. As soon as this pass is made, player 3 (an opponent from the second team) runs from near the goal to try and stop player 2 from taking a shot at goal.

If player 3 wins the ball, he can score a point for his team by passing to his team mate on the edge of the penalty area.

The other team players (who are all in opposite positions to the first team) then take their turn. Ensure all players move on a position after each attempt and add up the goals scored to see which team won.

Play it in a game

Mark a penalty area into sections, as shown in the bottom picture, and add two target goals. Play a small-sided game.

Team A (the team which has four players in total) attacks the big goal and always has a minimum of one player in each wide channel.

Team B (four outfield player and a keeper) defends the big goal and tries to score in the two target goals.

To start the game, you or an assistant pass the ball to team A. Players on this team can continuously use you or an assistant to pass the ball back to. Team B defends in the centre to stop direct shots at goal. Using this tactic will force team A to pass into either wide channel.

Once this happens, the nearest team B player runs to defend against the wide attacker. If the ball goes out of play or a goal is scored, restart with a pass to team A. Play offside rules.

The game is played for four three-minute periods with a minute’s rest between each period. Swap outfield players halfway through and work out which team has won by scoring most goals.

This exercise is taken from Tony Carr’s Smart Sessions.

For more soccer coaching tips and products visit Soccer Coaching Club.

Dave Clarke

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