Double defending


To practice correct defensive stance.

To practice closing down and holding up.

To demonstrate how effective support defending can be.

To help attackers make decisions over trying to push and go past a defender.


I have a 30yd x 20yd grid marked our for training purposes, internally marked to create 4 x 15yd x 10yd grids. This activity can involve up to 16 players at a time as each pair of teams (offensive & defensive) work longitudinally through one half of the 30 x 20 grid.

Have 3 or 4 players line up at one end of the grid (30yds long but only 10yds wide – i.e. half of the whole grid), each with a ball. They must each, in turn, try and dribble past the approaching defender and stop the ball on the opposite end line to score a point.

Have 3 or 4 players line up at the opposite end of the grid without a ball. These defenders must close down the attacker as quickly as possible and try and hold him/her up, kicking the ball away if possible (no slide tackling is allowed).

Although the defensive players usually do ok at first, the quicker and more skilful attackers start to push the ball past the defenders (often through their legs as they try and get used to the open legged stance)and have more success.

After the attackers have had perhaps three attempts at beating the defenders I then let the next defender in line support the first defender. I usually demonstrate the technique one or two times, showing how talking to the first (pressure) defender helps. The success rate of the defenders soars thus highlighting the benefit of good support (double) defending.

When an attacker has been ‘seen off’ the pressure defender goes to the back of his line, his support defender becomes the next pressure defender and the third player in line becomes the support defender. This prevents pairs of players getting used to just defending with each other.

3 points can be scored by the defensive team if they manage to force the attacker all the way back to his/her end line. It is surprising how forceful some players get when they realise how effective this teamwork can be.

This activity also helps attackers realise that pushing the ball past one defender is not going to be as effective if there is a supporting defender close by. Therefore, if they are getting their head up early, they can make much more incisive decisions on when to ‘go for it’ on their own and when to pass to a team mate.