Training the second defender

Ages: 8+; Equipment: Cones, balls; Players: 4+


Start with some basic ball-control movements, such as toe-taps, interspersed with assorted ball control moves.


Defensively, the main players involved are the First Defender (“Pressure player”) and the backup supporting player (called the Second Defender or the “cover” player). The job of the Cover player is critical to the success of the team from a defensive standpoint. Only when Cover arrives and is in proper backup position is it possible for the Pressure player to move in to win the ball. Why? Because the backup player is available to instantly become the Pressure player if the first player is beaten. Of course, this means that the beaten player must loop around and become the new Cover player, so it is extremely important to work on this transition.

Small Group Work (drill)

To illustrate the concepts of proper cover, put all of the players in a large circle, except for 2 players (coach can be one player for illustration). Outside players try to pass ball around, while pressure player goes in and sets an angle to try to contain, and Cover player moves in to shut off more outlets.

Key coaching points

Cover player must sprint into position with a looping run to the outside of the direction in which the Pressure player is steering the attacker, and then shout “Cover” very loudly once in place, but not before.

Appropriate cover must be a distance of about 6-8 feet.

The outside of the Covering player’s shoulder should be aligned with the inside of the shoulder of the Pressure player so that the attacker sees a wall of two players in his way. Basically, the two defenders are trying to create a funnel that locks the attacker at the touch-line.

Cover player’s stance will be slightly more square, as he must be prepared to leap quickly to outside side if the attacker tries to spin around the outside of the Pressure player.

It is the Pressure player’s job to watch the ball and the Cover player’s job to watch the attacker and to give directions to the Pressure player. After showing the basic principles by using the circle, divide players into groups of 3. Make long/narrow grids (about 10′ by 25′). Put an attacker inside the grid and a defender at both ends, one with a ball. Have the on-ball defender play the ball into the attacker and immediately come in to close him down (he is the Pressure player). Then, have the Cover player (i.e. the defender at the other end) make a looping run to get into position to cover. Do 4 reps with the same player as the Cover player, then switch off.

As soon as he is in position, he must shout “Cover”, which is the Pressure player’s key to start closing down and/or jockeying the player to the nearest touch-line. The Cover player’s job is to give helpful instructions, including “Not yet” or “Don’t dive in” if the attacker hasn’t been pushed close enough to the touch-line to use the touch-line as an extra defender and “Now” or “Take him” when it is time to close in. It also can be useful for the Cover player to shout “Hold Him” or “Contain” as he is making the circle around, so that the Pressure player knows that help is on the way.

Note that the kids seldom talk if they are too busy concentrating on what to do, so you have made progress if you can get them to simply announce “Cover.” Additionally, younger children seldom can learn more than 1-2 things at once, so you will have to judge your group. You may want to just work on the positioning, while leave training on communications for another practice if you are giving them too much to think about. Older players, or ones with more experience, may be able to handle additional training on communications.

As soon as you are getting good positioning and some communication, start working on the recovery process. To work on recovery, tell the Pressure player to dive in just before the Cover player gets into position, which will force the Cover player to become the new Pressure player. The former Pressure player then must make a proper covering run.

Large Group

Play 5v2 keepaway in a narrow grid to encourage use of the touch-lines as an additional defender. Give the defenders a point for every successful steal, and give the attackers a point for 6 consecutive passes. Adjust the size of the grid to keep work-rates high. If the attackers can never be successful, the grid is too narrow while if they always seem to be successful, it is too big. Play to 3 points by either side, and then switch out defenders.


Play 2v2 in a narrow grid with small cone goals at each end, with 2 extra players waiting on the sides. Rotate one fresh player to each side in after 2 minutes; play another 2 minutes; and rotate the resting players in to replace the 2 remaining players. Let the players experiment with providing defensive support versus marking.

Coaching note: You will repeat some variation of this practice several times per year, both to refresh memories and to add additional concepts. You will find further information on fundamentals of 2v2 defensive support elsewhere in the manual .

Defensive Tips For More Advanced Players

  • Speed of movement

Sprint! Be moving a split second after the ball is lost!

  • Angle of run

Run on a curved line that will bring you within a few strides goal-side of your pressure man and then close down on a goal-side line to the ball.

  • How close to get

Close enough to help choke off dangerous passing lanes on your side of the ball. Close enough for the challenger to hear and feel your support. Close enough to apply pressure immediately if the challenger is beaten.

  • Why communication is so important

Your position gives you a wider picture, so you can make better decisions. When the Pressure player knows his support is in place, he can work without seeing you, as long as he hears you. Continue giving encouragement and quick, clear, confident instructions. As a general rule of thumb, say nothing unless you are in position to back it up! Your teammate doesn’t just need support; he needs to KNOW that he has it. If he tackles and is beaten and you’re not in position to cover, you’re both beaten and out of the game until you can recover from behind the ball. Let the Pressure player know when he is Covered. Announce your arrival loud and clear!

  • Giving directions

One of the most common directions that the Cover player will give is “Take him wide” or “Line, line”. This instruction means that the Pressure player is being instructed to steer the attacker towards the nearest touch-line. He does this by showing him more space to the outside. The Cover player will be goal-side of the ball, and also goal-side of the Pressure player, so that he can quickly move to provide Pressure if the attacker manages to cut inside of the Pressure player. He is dropped down about 2 yards, so that he also is available to close down the touch-line run if the attacker accelerates past the Pressure player.

Another popular instruction, used mostly by older players, is “Turn him in”, meaning turn him towards the centre area of the field. If you see you cannot cover effectively if play goes wide, or you realize the defence is being stretched across the field, tell the challenger to show the inside path where cover can more easily be provided and the defence can retain depth and compactness. Take position a few strides closer to goal than the challenger, inside him in the direction you want play to go.

When to encourage the steal

As soon as you have steered the attacker within about 1-2 feet of the touch-line, it is time to consider a counter-attack. In addition, if the attacker appears to be losing courage and is considering turning his back on your group, it is time to shout “Go in!” or “Close” or “Take him”. When your Pressure player is on the counterattack, the Cover player must stay balanced, alert, and ready to close down and pressurize if the tackle fails.

What if the opponent succeeds in making a pass

If the ball carrier manages to make a pass, your response will depend on whether the pass is forward, square or back. With the changed situation, you must decide whether your job is now to pressure, support, track down, mark, or destroy opponent’s support.

Common Mistakes

  • The decision to provide support is made too late.
  • Player doesn’t work hard enough to achieve effective covering position and supports from too far away – which is no support at all.
  • Supporting player doesn’t tell the challenger he is in position, or tells him that he is covered while still too far away.
  • Supporting player doesn’t encourage the challenge.
  • Supporting player doesn’t maintain concentration and fails to react quickly to the play

Passing, defending and communication

Objective: improve passing, defending, communication

  • Warm up 15 minutes
  • Skills exercise: 20 minutes
  • Game: 15 minutes
  • Drinks, discussion, setting up: 10 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes

Equipment: 30 small cones, a goal (can be cones but the exercise goes better with a ‘proper’ goal), bibs and one ball for every player.

Warm up

  • Set up three parallel lines of ten cones, closely spaced. Lines should be about 20 metres apart.
  • Children jog slowly from one line to far line and back then:
  • 2 footed jump over centre line
  • 2 footed jump forwards/backwards (once, twice) over centre line
  • Sidestep to centre line then other way
  • Jog to end line, jog backwards to centre line, sprint
  • Heels up to centre line then knees up
  • Touch cones on centre line as they pass
  • On end line, usual stretches
  • All have a ball – feet together, legs straight, slowly roll ball down body to toes and back 5 times.
  • Legs apart, knees bent, figure of eights.
  • On your toes, tap passing. Ten quick taps.
  • Repeat taps followed by sprint to far line pick up cones, and back.

Skills exercise: 1 goal keepaway

Set up a rectangular playing area with a goal in the centre of one side.

The larger the area is, the easier the exercise is, so for young children you can use up to half a full size pitch. As they get more skilful and/or older you should gradually reduce the size of the playing area to make the exercise more challenging.

Divide the children into two teams identified with bibs. One team attacks, the other defends. The defending team ‘scores’ a point by achieving a certain number of consecutive passes, the attacking team gets a ‘point’ by scoring a goal. First to five points is the winner.

Start play by giving ball to attackers. Their first pass is free (no tackling by defenders).

Restart play with throw in or kick in. No corners. Goalie throws ball out to a defender (credit one pass).


Play two touch, then one touch.

Coaching points:

Emphasise the importance of the defenders not diving in. Encourage ‘123 defending’.

Attackers should pass and move. No standing still!

All players should be encouraged to communicate with each other.

Small sided game

Finish the session with a small-sided game. Look for children building on the skills practiced in the above exercise and praise them.

How to teach individual defending skills

General principles

It’s important to emphasise to your players, no matter how young they are, that when the other team has the ball everyone on your team is a defender.

It follows that all your players (not just the “defenders”) need to be taught the principles of individual defence:

The player nearest the ball is called the “first defender”.

If possession is lost in your team’s attacking third (the third of the pitch closest to your opponent’s goal) the first defender – who will probably be one of your attackers or midfield players – has to try and win the ball back immediately and start another attack.

If your opponent has possession of the ball in midfield or in your defensive third (the third of the pitch nearest your goal) the first defender does NOT have to try to win the ball. Her job is to delay the attack, put pressure on the player with the ball and try to guide her into a safe area of the pitch, i.e. towards the touchline or back towards her own goal.

The first defender puts pressure on the ball carrier by approaching her quickly and getting close – but not so close that the attacker can simply push the ball past the defender and run onto it. About 4ft away is a good distance. Getting close quickly will force the attacker to keep her head down so she can concentrate on keeping control of the ball and will stop her looking for a pass.

The first defender’s stance is important. Her feet should be about a shoulder width apart, her legs should be slightly bent and she should stay on her toes so she can react to any sudden changes of direction by the attacker.

  • Her eyes should be on the ball but she should also watch the spaces around the attacker with her peripheral vision.
  • If the ball gets away from the attacker’s feet, the first defender can win the ball by quickly stepping between the attacker and the ball carrier.
  • If the ball gets stuck between the attacker’s feet, the first defender should make a determined effort to win the ball or kick it into touch.

How to practise individual defending skills

The best way to practise individual defending skills is to play 1v1 games.

Warm up by pairing up your players and get them to stand a good defensive distance (three or four feet) apart.

On your command, they try to touch each other’s knees. The first player to make 10 touches is the winner. Players can use their hands to deflect their partners attempts.

Use this game to practise the defensive stance. Say: “knees bent”, “eye on the target”, “lean forward slightly”, “stay on your toes”.

Game 1

Create some areas 20 yards long by five yards wide and divide them into three sections.

One player (the defender) stands at one end of a channel and passes a ball to a player at the other end (the attacker).

The attacker tries to dribble past the defender. The defender gets three points if she can hold up the attacker for 10 seconds in the first third of the channel, win the ball or kick the ball out.

If she can do it in the second section she gets two points and she gets one point for succeeding in the final third.

Play three or four rounds then switch roles.

Game 2

Use the same set-up as above.

Place a small cone goal at one end of the channel.

The attacker’s job is now to score a goal by hitting the cone.

The defender gets a point if she can stop the attacker from scoring for 30 seconds.

Game 3

Set up a number of 10-yard square areas with a small cone goal in the middle.

The defender starts the game by standing in the goal and passing the ball to the attacker who has 30 seconds to score. Again, award a point to defenders who can stop the attacker from scoring by stealing the ball, kicking it out or (ideally) holding up the attacker for the required time.

What to say to the defender:

  • “Close the attacker down quickly”
  • “Watch the ball”
  • “Knees bent”
  • “The touchline is your friend”
  • “If you’re going for a tackle, you must be determined to win the ball”

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Defending for U12s

Warm Up

For these exercises, PLEASE ENSURE each player has shinguards on! Give all players a ball.

Get players to dribble in a 20 x 15 yard grid. The grid can also be made larger depending on the ability of the players. On command ‘CHANGE’ players have to leave their own football and find another to continue dribbling. This gets kids to be aware of what is going on around them.

Various stretches- Stretch hamstring and calf muscles. Dribble again. Stretch calf and Achilles tendon. Get a partner to put pressure on the ball with the ball of the foot, with their heel on the ground. Dribble again. Lift inside of foot to groin to stretch the glutemous maximus (butt!)

Play 6 v l with 6 balls. Player without a ball has to try and steal one. Players stay within the grid.

After 1 minute or so, the player without the ball gets a quick exercise. Then take one more ball out so it is 5 v 2 with 5 balls. At end of a minute, 2 players will be without a ball and get an exercise.

Then take one more ball out so it is 4v3 with 4 balls. At end of a minute, 3 players will be without a ball and get an exercise. This helps players to dribble keeping their the ball within the frame of their body, and to hold off an opponent.

In this period there has been no official instruction on how to defend the ball!

Fundamental – Tackling

Coach may want to introduce the block tackle at this point, for timing, rhythm etc. Coaching points include-. Low center of balance, knees bent. May want to start with players with a hand on their partner’s shoulder. Develop rhythm, 3, 2, 1 go. Then develop to take a step in.

Restricted Tackling – In a rectangle of 15 x 25 yards, play 4 v 4 and create a small goal on each end line. Number each team 1, 2, 3 and 4. Each number can only tackle his opposing number. This allows plenty of, chances to dribble, as rarely are similar numbers close to each other, at least at the beginning!

Match Related

In same 20 x l5 grid area, play l v l to small goals (same as ‘Get out of here’ game above). The Coach has the supply of balls on the mid-line and plays the ball in. Let players go through once each without any instruction.

Then introduce the Coaching points:

>        Curve defensive run to get between ball and goal (so they can’t shoot on empty net!)

>        Defender must pressure ball quickly, but then 2 – 3 yards away slow down and get under control.

>        Get correct stance, (one foot in front of other) not square like basketball! Tell kids why!

>        Do not have to win ball, just keep between the attacker, ball and goal – block shot on goal.

>        If defender manages to turn the attacker, get in tight & don’t let turn and face you again!

Award goals if not quick enough pressure on the ball. Then demonstrate how easy it is for the attacker to turn the defender if too tight. Get distances correct with regard to the speed of the opponent. First of all passive defending. Then let the defender tackle. If they win the ball, go for opponent’s goal. Teams keep scores. Play for five minutes or so. Coach defender in the game.

Ask other players to keep concentrating on what the on-field defender is doing well and doing poorly. This way they have the opportunity to learn from each other. Disallow goals if rest of team are not paying attention to what is going on the field.

Once concepts have been determined, introduce 2 v 2. Coach the defensive shape and concept of keeping 2 players at angle goal-side to support. Let the first defender know that the way he/she approaches the ball will determine what position the second defender takes up.

There is no offside! If attackers run goal-side of the last defender award a goal. The supporting defender must have both opponents in front of him at all times.

Match Conditions (no restrictions)

Then develop to play 4v4 to targets in a 20 x 30 yard grid. Have to score by chipping the ball into a semi-circular end zone. Then play 4v4 on field with both teams also having a goalkeeper. In this stage it is best to let the game flow and not stop it every time a mistake occurs. A coach can call out what to do next time as the game continues!


Work defending session once every 3-4 practices at the age groups U-10 through U-14.

Defending for U9s

Age group: U9

Equipment: 1 ball per player, cones, pennies

Warm up

Link Tag – Create pairs of players and have them link arms, break one of the pairs apart and give one of them a penny, the player with the penny is it and will chase the other player until they link up with one of the pairs, the player on the other side of the link must now leave the link and run.

Pressure – Groups of three, one ball per group. Player A rolls the ball (receiving ground balls) or tosses the ball (receiving air balls) to either player B or player C. In this example, player C must control the ball and get a completed pass to player B. While this is occurring, player A immediately challenges player C and tries to win the ball back. After successful pass, player C would then pick up the ball and repeat the activity as the defender. The defender is awarded a point for winning the ball back and gets to throw again.

Coaching Points: Encourage defender to pressure quickly after the toss. Defender needs to work hard at closing down the space while the ball is in flight. Receiving player’s first touch should be away from the pressuring defender. Player receiving the pass should move to create a clear passing lane. Do not allow the receiving player to one touch the incoming toss. This is a receiving drill, as well as a drill that serves as a good warm-up for practices dealing with defenders.

Body of session

Pressure / Cover Defending – 2 v. 2, with goals marked out in the corner of the grid. Have a regular game with periods of about 2 – 3 minutes in duration. Have plenty of extra balls ready to keep the game flowing.

Coaching Points: Pressure on the ball, do not let the attacker’s head to come up. Second defender must cover the goal as well as be aware of the other attacker. First defender tries to channel the attacker into the sideline and away from the second attacker. This is easier to do since the goals are in the corners of the grid, the sidelines come up quicker.) When first defender has made the play predictable, second defender tries to double team.

Two Sided Goal Game – A 2 v. 2 game played to a two sided goal. Goals can be scored from either side. The game is a continuous flow game that is best played for 2 – 3 minutes.


Four Goals – (End Line) 4 v. 4. Each team defends two goals and attacks two goals. Having the goals on the end lines makes this game more realistic as it forces the attacking team to have more of a direction to their attack.yards, two players without the ball are ghosts, the ghosts object is to get as many balls out of the grid as possible in two minutes, if a player has their ball kicked out of the grid they retrieve their ball and re-enter the grid

Praise the players that work together to trap a player and take the ball away

Team Knockout – 15 minutes, 20×30 yards, half the players with balls, the other half need to be around the outside of the grid, the players outside the grid will come into the grid and work together to steal balls away from the dribblers and dribble the outside of the grid, once a player loses their ball they can help their team mates out by passing with them, time the team that started with out with the ball on how long it takes to get the ball out of the grid


End Zone – 20 minutes, two 20×30 yard grids, create two games of 3v3 or 4v4, players score by dribbling over the endline with the ball

Scrimmage – 15-20 minutes, two 20×30 yard grids, create small goals on either endline and allow the players to play without any coaching

Defending for U10s

Age group: U10


1 ball per player, cones, pennies

Link Tag – Create pairs of players and have them link arms, break one of the pairs apart and give one of them a penny, the player with the penny is it and will chase the other player until they link up with one of the pairs, the player on the other side of the link must now leave the link and run

Pac Man – 15 minutes, 20×30 yards, two players without the ball are ghosts, the ghosts object is to get as many balls out of the grid as possible in two minutes, if a player has their ball kicked out of the grid they retrieve their ball and re-enter the grid

Praise the players that work together to trap a player and take the ball away

Team Knockout – 15 minutes, 20×30 yards, half the players with balls, the other half need to be around the outside of the grid, the players outside the grid will come into the grid and work together to steal balls away from the dribblers and dribble the outside of the grid, once a player loses their ball they can help their team mates out by passing with them, time the team that started with out with the ball on how long it takes to get the ball out of the grid

End Zone – 20 minutes, two 20×30 yard grids, create two games of 3v3 or 4v4, players score by dribbling over the endline with the ball

Scrimmage – 15-20 mintues, two 20×30 yard grids, create small goals on either endline and allow the players to play without any coaching

Defending – the basics

1v1 defending

This session is suitable for players aged 8 and upwards.

Skills required: the players should be able to control and pass with some confidence

Equipment required: cones and footballs.

Number of players: groups of three, four and five.

Start the session with a suitable warm up and finish with a SSG.


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.

1v1 defending


The defender only moves after the receiver has touched the ball.

Coaching points

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).

Key Points

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 their opponent.

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 attacker. 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 mark space.

Remember…if you can win the ball, tackle decisively but don’t jump in.

Progression 1 v 2

1v2 defending

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 give time.
Ease toward side of the ball.
Open body stance.
Show where you want the ball to go.
Angle and distance between players.

Progression 2 v 2

2v2 defending

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.

Key terms

Closing down

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 opponent:

If he is better on his right or left foot,
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 decisions:

Can I intercept and then create
Spoil and recover
Push back and stick

Recovery runs

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 at goal.
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.