Creating overloads in defence


Up to 60x40 yards


Balls, cones, goals (full-size and target)

No. of players

Up to 17

Session time

Games 20mins each

This is a variable defensive session that looks at creating 2v1s at the back in restricting attacking threat.

It’s vitally important our players know how to efficiently and effectively close down opponents in winning the ball at the back, particularly given that this is an area where space between the lines is a vital target for opposition attackers.

And if your team is one that likes to operate with a counter-attacking strategy, or plays short and quick, then this allows this to happen with greater regularity.

Introducing a new role or responsibility will see the session start slower than before, so be prepared for this. In time, you will definitely see that players ‘want’ to defend and are prepared to work hard for the good of the team.

What do I get the players to do?

Defending 1v1

This is a series of 1v1s in a 20×20-yard square. In pairs, one tries to win the ball back off his opponent, who can use neutrals inside the squares to play off and retain possession (1).


• In Defending 1v1, the player on the ball links with boxed neutrals in retaining possession

1v1 up to 2v2 defending

This is a simple 1v1 in a 20×10-yard area. Two servers link up before playing into the first or second 1v1 box (2a). Attackers look to score in the goal in their channel, though only the player receiving the ball, and his opponent, are active. Defenders must win possession and pass back to the servers.


• Servers play into either the first or second box, where a 1v1 situation occurs

We can progress this game in two ways. First, defenders in the first area can recover and make a 2v1 in the deeper square. Then, defenders and attackers both join in the deeper square to make a 2v2 (2b).


• In the first progression, a defender can move back into the space to support. In the second progression, both defender and attacker can move on, thus creating a 2v2

6v6 game with floaters

On a 60×40-yard pitch, this game is played 6v6 with teams lining up 2-2-2 (3). Boxed players (yellows) act as servers and targets for either side to attack or defend – passes can be grounded or floated. Three floaters (greys) play for the team in possession and can also score, but their main role is to create 2v1 attacking situations for defenders to deal with.


• Here, in the 6v6 game with three neutral floaters, the attacker and neutral player link in close quarters in a 2v1 and a ball is threaded through for the attacker to run onto

Central goal/wide goals

Still 6v6, one team defends the two smaller goals and the other the main goal (4a/4b). With the teams attacking different central and wide targets, the game is stretched, meaning defenders have to organise to repel attacks coming from different areas.


• In supporting a fellow defender, the last man uses quick reactions to block a shot on goal


• As blues concentrate play on the wing and switch play, a red forward drops back to create a 2v1 in defence

What are the key things to look out for technically/tactically?

It’s vital players understand what you want from them individually. I am a ‘mark players not space’ coach and am determined players can deal with all 1v1 defensive scenarios. Once players understand individually what you want from them, you can evolve their roles accordingly.

So we’re looking for defending 1v1 from behind, the front and the side, watching angles and distances from the ball, balance, body position, and ensuring players can see the ball at all times. Good tackling technique, patience and anticipation is also required.


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement