Midfield defending

Midfield defending


44 x 25 yard grid. Wider than longer as shown.

3 teams of 4 players each.

Team ‘A’ tries to pass the football from outside the grid to team ‘B’, waiting on the other side.

Midfield defending improves zonal defending, passing, communication and decision making


1. The pass from ‘A’ to ‘B’ must be lower than shoulder height.

2. Team ‘A’ can pass between themselves up to 4 times. At anytime during the sequence, they can attempt to pass through to team ‘B’.

3. Once the fourth pass is made amongst team ‘A’, the player who has the ball must now attempt to dribble in to the grid and make the pass through to team ‘B’ from inside the grid.

4. If team ‘C’ intercepts any pass, or steals the ball off of the player attempting to dribble in to the grid, they must keep the ball and try to get out of the grid. If they steal the ball off of the ‘A’, they must get across the line that team ‘A’ is defending (team ‘A’ can immediately come in to the grid to try to win the ball back off of team ‘C’.)

5. The game never stops. If a successful pass is made through, the defending team must then turn and try to intercept the pass from the other team.

6. If the defending team successfully gets ‘out’ of the grid (by stealing the ball and getting it over the line themselves), the team that lost the ball immediately becomes the team in the ‘middle’ and defends.

7. Keep score of the goals scored in order to make the game competitive.


1. This is a great game to teach zonal defending, especially for midfielders. Work on the defenders attempting to keep their ‘shape’. They should not ‘chase’ the pass, but instead, should stay in their zones and defend as a unit.

2. Make sure that the person who is defending the ball calls out that they have it. A simple ‘BALL’, will often send a clear message to the player’s teammates that they have taken this responsibility.

3. Make sure that the defenders are never ‘flat’ across the field. This makes it too easy for the attacking team to split them with a pass. The player taking the ball should step towards the ball, while the other defenders ‘tuck-in’ behind that player, as shown in the diagram.

4. If the defending team as a unit can step up and get close to the attackers, that is good. However, if they can not get good pressure on the ball, they need to ‘drop back’ and not let a pass get through them.

5. Work hard on the moments of transition. If the defending team intercepts a ball, they must get spread out so that they can keep the ball and attempt to get out of the grid. Similarly, of the attacking team’s pass is intercepted, they immediately come in to defend… putting good pressure on the ball.