By Sean Pearson
Area Size: half a 7 v 7/9 v 9 field
Teams: 2 teams (4 v 3)
Time: 15 Minutes
The area needed is half a field, teams are in 3’s (plus a GK) the attackers start with 2 players wide and one centrally. The defenders start with one on the ‘D’ and 2 the same distance as the central attacker. The one defender on the ‘D’ is very important to the recovery of the other 2 defenders.
The central attacker starts each time and passes the ball to a wide player. The central defender moves to the side of the ball. But, unlike other defending sessions, does not sprint to pressure the ball. This would allow an easy pass across for other attackers to advance on goal too easily.
Remember the main objective of this central defender is to slow the attack down, not to win possession, so the other defenders have time to recover.
As soon as the central attacker passes the ball the 2 recovering defenders start their runs to get behind the ball to act as cover and balance. The central defender makes sure to slide across and allow the attacker with the ball to advance. At the same time going roughly half their speed backwards to allow the attacker the come on to them. Their position is such that they do not allow a clear run on goal but also delay/cut any pass to the opposite wide player off. Passes backwards are fine as this allows further time for the recovery defenders to get into position.
Explain to the 2 recovering defenders that they must sprint back into a position to support and slow down the attack. Once they are in position they can then aim to win possession. If they intercept a pass while recovering, then this is fine. Once the defenders win possession the play stops. If you have the players have another 2 recovery defenders ready to go as players will need time to rest after each repetition.
Next tell the central attacker to dribble the ball forward, straight at the central defender. Remember the central defender’s aim is to slow the attack down and should not go sprinting to the ball. When the ball is passed out wide, one of the recovering defenders gets close, on the inside, of the attacker and aims to force them out wide.
The central and opposite defender then become cover and balance respectively to support the recovering defender pressuring the ball.
A GK is also used for game realism. The main objective for the initial defender is to slow the attack down by not committing themselves to get close to the attacker with the ball. If possible force the attacker away from goal while the recovering defenders get back into a position to help. Force the attackers into making either poor shot selections or into making predictable/slow decisions like passing backwards/sideways or slowing down.
By Sean Pearson
Area Size: 30 x 30 yards
Teams: 2 teams (4 v 4)
Time: 15 Minutes
Place 4 goals in each corner of the area, 2 for each team to score in and defend. You can only score with a 1-time finish.
This practice is about the awareness of your players. I find too many young players have tunnel vision when it comes to soccer or sports in general and just want to go one way and only one way. This practice therefore has 2 goals at opposite sides of the field for each team to allow players to decide on which goal to score on. Their decision is based on the opposition player positioning.
When in possession the team looks to spread out and see which goal has the most opportunity to score in.
If opposition players shift to block 1 goal it is at this point that players must understand that this goal (or direction) is closed off and the team should change directions and switch the play to the other side. So as well as passing and moving, players should also be looking at the position of opposition players.
By Sean Pearson
Area Size: 18-yard and surrounding area up to 30 yards
Teams: 2 teams (7 v 5)
Time: 20 Minutes
Sometimes when coaching a game, you will come up a team who wants to sit back and as we say ‘park the bus’. Basically a team get all of their players behind the ball and stops any penetration with the form of a ’block’. This is very frustrating to play against as it takes away a lot of space to attack. We are going to focus on beating the block by going round it, using speed and skill.
Use the 18-yard and surrounding area with 2 goals on the 30-yard line for the defending team to score in. Set the defending team up in 2 lines of 3 or a ‘block’ with a GK. Set up the attacking team with 2 wide players, 2 central midfielders and a central striker.
To beat the block your team will be going around it. It is important that the attacking team moves and passes with speed. If you pass and run with the ball slowly this only plays into the hands of the defending team. A center midfielder passes out wide to the wide midfielder who looks to run with the ball at the full back at speed.
Encourage your players to use skill to beat the full back, but at speed, try not to do to many tricks, remember the focus is speed of play so the defenders can’t get set and organized. The wide midfielder’s aim is to get to the touchline and survey their options. As they do this the rest of the players will move accordingly.
With the wide midfielder dribbling to the touchline, they are looking for 2 options. The 1st being to pull the ball back to the penalty spot area. Because of their position, the defense has congested the area around the GK so there is no space. Because it is natural for players to watch the ball and take their eye off of other players this is when a center midfielder, at the top of the 18 meets the ball at the penalty spot area for a shot. Now the shot may get blocked or saved but the more you do this the more, higher quality chances you will get. It is important that the striker (9) makes a run to the front post to take players away
from the penalty spot area.
The other option for the wide midfielder to consider is to play the ball across the 6-yard box if there is room. This pass will need to have pace on it to beat the GK. It also has the possibility of coming off a part of a defender and deflecting into the goal anyway.
If the defense does well and stops penetration from out wide, instead of forcing the ball through on that side, it is important that your team see this and move away from their current positions to switch the ball with speed to attack from the other side.
If the defense wins the ball then they are to shoot into the goals in the corners, this is to replicate a team who just wants to sit back and kick the ball long.
By Sean Pearson
Area Size: 55 x 42 yards
Teams: 5 v 5 + 3 (Extra defenders)
Time: 20 Minutes
There are 3 areas, 2 large end areas and a middle zone (5 yards wide) where the 3 defenders occupy their own personal zone between cones. Depending on numbers, separate the middle zone into 2 or 3 equal areas for each defender. 3 defenders and 2 attackers are in each end zone.
The attacking teams are aiming to score in the goals but only the 2 attackers can score. There are no GK but with a 3 defenders it should make it more difficult to score. The team in possession is looking to pass through the middle zone to their strikers. The defenders on the opposite side are not allowed in front of the attackers to intercept the ball as this is not what we are working on. But what you want them to do is to step close to the attacker to deny them the ability to turn and shoot. They should be 1 arm’s length away and side on and their main aim is to slow them down not to tackle them.
Whichever defender in the middle zone is nearest, determined by which cones the attacker is in between, is allowed to help defend and win the ball off the attacker. This term is called ‘doubling up’ on a player making a 2v1 scenario.
As soon as they win possession they must pass to another defender on that side of the field. The middle zone defender then returns to their original position.
Because the attacker is in a different area of the field there is a closer defender in the middle zone to double up. Therefore, the defender behind the attacker slows them down and denies them the ability to turn and shoot and the second defender wins the ball.
When a scenario occurs where there is a large distance between the defenders in the middle zone and the attacker it is then the responsibility of another defender, who is closer, to double up. This gives opportunities for decision making, increasing player’s awareness of the scenario and communication.