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