Objective: to encourage your defenders to keep attackers out wide and not dive into the tackle.
Age group: U10 upwards.
Set up: Play this game on half of a small-sided pitch – about 30 yards long by 25 yards wide – with a goal at one end.
Divide your players into two teams: defenders and attackers.
The defenders stand on the end line opposite the goal. The attackers stand on the sidelines.
A goalkeeper is an optional extra.
Tip: if you have more than eight players – four defenders and four attackers – set up two or more playing areas to avoid players getting bored while they’re waiting for their turn.
How to play:
- A defender starts the game by playing a ball out wide towards a side line. An attacker chases the ball and tries to score.
- The defender who passed the ball immediately closes down the attacker and tries to keep her away from the goal and near the touchline.
- Tackling is not allowed.
- The defender gets a point for her team if she can stop the attacker from getting a shot away for at least 20 seconds.
- When all the defenders and attackers have played, change the teams round. The team that gets the most defensive points is the winner.
Progression: add a defender who stands in the goalmouth. When the ball is played wide to the attacker, this defender is the first defender, i.e. she must close the attacker down quickly and hold her up until a second defender comes off the end line and gets into a covering position.
You can also add a second attacker who is allowed to come on 10 seconds after the ball is first played.
Points are awarded as above.
Tell your defenders:
“Close down, slow down” – i.e. get there fast but don’t dive in.
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