This is a position-specific session aimed at making full backs better at defending in wide areas of the pitch.
It focuses on the kind of 1v1 and 1v2 defending that full backs tend to face in matches.
This is essential preparation because both defenders and attackers are exposed to 1v1s within the context of their positions, whilst the addition of a scoring system adds a further competitive edge to the activity.
We would run this practice on a day when the players can be exposed to a higher work load. It would be part of a second session on a training day, when players are performing position/unit- specific work.
“This training session focuses on the kind of 1v1 and 1v2 defending that full backs tend to face in matches”
DEFENDING IN WIDE AREAS
We set up on a quarter of a pitch with four mini target goals positioned as shown. We’re using five outfield players: three blue wingers and two red full backs.
Play starts with the coach playing a ball into a winger and that pass frees the full back to run out to defend, as shown [1a]. The winger can choose to try to take on the full back on the outside to cross into a target goal that represents the second six-yard box, or play the ball into an angled target goal inside the pitch which represents an incisive through pass to the edge of the penalty area, as shown [1b].
“The full back could try to match the winger for pace and prevent a cross being made, or could retreat towards goal to affect the cross”
The full back could try to match the winger for pace and attempt to prevent a cross being made, or could retreat towards goal and try to affect the cross, as shown [1c]. Should the full back win possession of the ball, he has two target goals to aim for with an out ball.
A new defender and a new attacker become live once the ball goes out of play and the coach serves in another ball.
A tally is kept to see whether the defending team or the attacking team scores the most goals, adding a competitive edge to the practice.
The activity can be easily progressed using the same set- up. As a first progression, after receiving the initial ball the winger can play a return pass to the coach and receive it back in a new area, using good off-the-ball movement to change the angle of approach, as shown [2a].
As a second progression, another blue attacker can join the winger in the attack, stepping in to create a 2v1 attack and giving the defender a new situation to defend against, as shown [2b]. The offside rule applies with both progressions.
“As a first progression, after receiving the initial ball the winger can play a return pass to the coach and receive it back in a new area”
What are the key things to look for?
The full back must try to read the first pass to the winger because it may be a pass that can be intercepted. If not, the full back should travel out to the winger quickly, remembering the FAST, SLOW, SIDEWAYS, LOW approach: the defender should travel quickly, slow down on the approach to the attacker and try to keep side on and low without overcommitting.
The full back should get his back foot in line with the ball to prevent the winger from coming inside the pitch but he should also remain balanced, ready to be explosive should the winger go down the outside and travel at pace.
We now want to see the full back making a decision: can he win the ball or the potential race with the winger in order to stop the cross, or does he need to recover at an angle towards his own goal to try to cut out the cross as best as possible.
During the 2v1 progression, it’s important for the full back to be patient and delay the attacker on the ball without committing. If the defender commits by diving in, it makes the decision for the attacking player easy. The full back should try and stay inside the pitch, encouraging the pass down the outside and then do their best to prevent or affect the cross into the target goal.
What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?
Typical mistakes include defenders not slowing down on the approach and overcommitting to get beaten. Encourage players to remember to go: FAST, SLOW, SIDEWAYS, LOW.
Sometimes defenders allow attackers inside to play dangerous incisive passes. To prevent this, it is important the defender gets his back foot in line with the ball to try to force the winger down the line, preventing him from coming inside.
How would I put this in a game situation?
This practice is transferable to the 11v11 game, where you can position yourself as a coach to work with the full backs within a full game.