This session is
suitable for players aged 8 and upwards.
the players should be able to control and
pass with some confidence
Equipment required: cones and footballs.
Number of players: groups of three, four
Start the session with a suitable
warm up and finish with a
- Grid size: 20m x 10m
- 1 server and 1 receiver face each other
on opposite sides of the grid. A defender (player 1 in the diagram below)
waits just outside the grid halfway along the side line.
- The server (player 2 in the diagram)
passes the ball to the receiver (player 3). The player waiting outside the
grid runs into the grid to defend and stop the attacker passing the ball
back to the server.
- The receiver must try to beat
the defender and return the ball to the server.
- The defender only moves after
the receiver has touched the ball.
- The defender must start with
good strides and end with short steps.
- He should show the attacker
the side he wants him to go, (the defenders best foot).
- Switch on, concentrate
(attitude). When and
where does defending commence? As soon as possession is lost you must be
mentally prepared to defend. You must be able to read the situation, the
player in possession and other attacking and defensive players activity.
We are at our most vulnerable when the ball is lost because players have
been drawn out of position.
- Nearest man to the ball should
apply pressure on the ball by moving into a position within 2-3 yards of
- Angle of approach in order to
adopt the correct challenging position the defender must make up ground
while the ball is travelling (travel as the ball is travelling) and get
into line between the ball and the goal or target area. The defender's job
is to reduce passing angles and space for the man on the ball to play in
and to make passing targets predictable.
- Speed of approach. The defender
should approach his opponent as fast as he can while the ball is
travelling in order to make up ground. It is important, however, for the
defender to have slowed his approach by the time the football has reached the
opponent. If he continues at speed when the the opponent has the ball
under control he will find it difficult to change direction, so the
attacker will be able to beat him with a trick or a sudden side movement.
The approach by the defender should be slowed, and a balanced position
should be adopted, just before the ball is brought under control. Quick
closing down can force technical and tactical errors by making opponents
perform quicker than they are capable of. Make sure he doesn't beat you on
the first touch, therefore don't close down too close or too fast or he
will nick it past you. Be aware of give and goes with supporting players.
- Closing down the last few yards
by slowing down (small strides). If the defender is five to six yards away
from the attacker when the ball is brought under control, his task is to
close down the last three to four yards.
- Side on approach,
inch in, face the same way. Slightly
crouching, the defender should adopt a sideways on position and edge in
slowly towards the attacker. Gain the
initiative by pretending to tackle or feinting so the attacker looks down
and the ball and tries to defend it.
- Force him one way,
onto your best foot, into players, down the line or across the field.
Make play predictable.
Show where you want him to go and make him go by getting there early.
- Closing down.
Get in position with a gap between your legs, get down and stay down and
resist putting first foot forward. Is he too tight too soon or too loose
so that the attacker can easily control the ball?
- Jockey the
The idea of jockeying is to delay or break up the attack by preventing the
player on the ball from playing forward (or sometimes sideways) by keeping
in front of him or by getting your body between the attacker and the goal.
The defender backs off slightly and waits for the attacker to commit
himself, keeping their eyes focused firmly on the movement of the ball and
not the player. The defender must get low, slightly half turned and stay
balanced on their toes with their body weight evenly distributed between
both feet so they can edge close to the ball, have the option of tackling
or springing off if required. Keep your opponent at arm's length so you
are a good distance to tackle if possible. You don't need to tackle the
important thing is to prevent them playing forward. Don't make it easy for
the attacker by diving in or moving too fast or too close, be patient and
track the attacker who is in front of you.
- Be Patient,
don't jump in and wait for the Cavalry. Time,
in these situations, time always favours the defender. If the attacker has
control of the ball, the temptation to try to win the ball must be
resisted by the defender. Remember, fools rush in, usually fall over, and
present the opposition with a numerical advantage.
- End product. Intercept and
create, spoil and recover, contain and stick and tackle.
Clearances you must you be first by meeting the ball as early as possible
with determination. Look for height, distance or width. Height favours the
defence and buys time.
- Recovery Runs
with lots of positive attitude.
Recovering defenders should understand their lines of recovery. The run
should be a direct line to their own goal. When the ball is put into wide
areas wide full back furthest from the ball should run in line with the
back post, far post should run mid goal, mid goal should mark near post,
near post should go to the ball. Once goalside the options are can I win
the ball, can I cover a challenging player, can I mark someone or can I
- Remember...if you can win the
ball, tackle decisively but don't jump in.
Progression 1 v 2
Try to hold them up so players
can get back and help. So don't dive in, keep your distance to give you time
and ease toward the side of the ball. Open your body so you can see both
attackers and the ball and listen to communication around you.
- Organisation as
above except now two attackers.
- Defender must look
to retreat and recover. Line of recovery.
- Keep distance to
- Ease toward side of the ball.
- Open body stance.
- Show where you want the ball to go.
- Angle and distance
Progression 2 v 2
- Organisation as above except,
the extra defender stands on the other side opposite the first defender.
- Defenders should wear bibs.
- Look at forcing
play in one direction, angle of approach.
- Support for
challenging player. Communication, angle and distance.
- Recovery runs.
This involves reading the situation, the
player in possession, your immediate opponent and any other players'
movements. When preparing to close down you should focus on the ball and
your opponent and get your stance, movement and readiness to react right.
The timing of closing down is important, you should be aware of when the
pass is certain and as it is released so you can travel as the ball is
travelling. The approach should be fast as the ball travels but slow on
approach, where do you want to show him with your angle of approach and
observation of receiving players touch or movement. Don't jump in but
approach with controlled deceleration.
Move quickly into a position within 2-3
yards of an opponent so you reduce his passing angles and space which to
operate in. Make passing targets predictable by showing him one way and
force technical and tactical errors by making opponents perform quicker than
they are capable of. Supporting players must move into position quickly to
reduce his decision making.
This involves the defenders intention to
show or hold up the player. It takes into account the characteristics of the
- If he is better on his right or left
- Does he like to come inside or outside
- Does he like to shoot, dribble or pass
This depends on If the play is overloaded
and how far are we from goal. It also involves limiting the operating
choices and options as well as gaining control of the situation by having
correct distances, angles and changes of position. The defender must be
aware of possible, and speedy changes of position and balance. Making play
predictable by patience and decision making. Decisions to push the opponents
in which direction and why, and to work the opponent and when to tackle.
Marking involves allowing an opponent to
receive a pass under limited and controllable conditions as well as
preventing him from receiving a pass. Preventing an opponent turning and
discouraging the man on the ball to pass to the man your marking. You will
have to be aware of marking distance, angle, stance and movement, changes of
position as well as body shape. The marker will have to make the following
- Can I intercept and then create
- Spoil and recover
- Push back and stick
- Central areas. Get goal side in the most
direct route to goal and then reassess your situation. Can you challenge,
mark another attacker, cover space or prevent the player running directly
- Wide areas. Your run should be in a line
with the near post if you are out wide and not at the wide man if he is
going to cross and you can't get there. If you run in a line towards the
near post then you can prevent him from coming inside and maybe you can
block the cross.
Use your arms for balance, you should
crouch as low as you can so that you are ready to spring. Your weight should be over your toes so that you can move quickly into action.
A very important way of
preventing an emergency situation from happening is to delay your opponents
as long as possible.
an introduction to defending
principles and positioning
games and drills that improve defending skills