This session examines defending in the final third, specifically through the organisation and movement of the back four.
While we focus on the defence, it’s important that all players on the pitch know their jobs and are prepared for all eventualities.
This is an important session for us and comes with a number of variations designed to keep players on their toes and alert.
Balls, cones, goals
Number of Players
Phases 1 and 2
What do I get the players to do?
We use a half pitch with 10-yard channels on each side, placing cones diagonally from the halfway line to the corners of the penalty box. There is a central 15×12-yard box just inside the half and two 5-yard target goals to the left and right.
Three players in the box play five passes before one is released to join two team mates further up the pitch (1a). The players attack 3v2 against two defenders, looking to score, whilst be careful to remain onside. Should play be turned over, the defenders counter-attack, attempting to pass through either target goal.
• In Phase one, after five passes the player emerges to create a 3v2 attacking overload
How do I progress the session?
Now, the centre-backs drop onto the 18-yard line and a deep delivery this time comes from one of the wingers positioned in the channels (1b). We repeat with a deep cross from the opposite side, then re-run the drill. The set-up is then repeated but the winger crosses from further up the line (1c).
• In Phase two, the supply line is a cross from deep into the penalty area
• Phase three features a cross from an advanced wing position
We now also rotate defensive personnel to offer new challenges for defenders and to see how results differ – for example, two full-backs, or a centre-back and left full-back, or a centre-back and right full-back.
In the second phase we remove all cones and bring in a back four. This defence is tested against fourattackers and two wingers. The serves are as follows:
central and from deep, to land in the 18-yard box (2a)
received by the wide attacker, who takes on the full-back in a 1v1 and crosses, with defenders dropping back to clear
from the left then the right (2b)
a floated pass into the six-yard box
a grounded pass to an attacker who has dropped short to receive (2c)
• Phase four features five waves of attack – the first a simple chipped pass through the middle…
• Next, a 1v1 on each wing prompts balls to be crossed in from either flank
• Now defenders move out to repel another lofted ball, while a short pass presents the fifth attacking wave
What are the key things to look for technically/tactically?
Defenders must position well, track opposition movement, cover, communicate and close down. They also need to judge the right time to make a tackle, as well as squeezing so as to compress space.
This is a quick-paced session that we assess continuously as play develops.
This session is all about defensive positions. It looks at how players should act when the opposing team has the ball, working firstly with units and then with all of the team together.
It’s important to practise this in order to retain defensive shape when out of possession. Players need to look at which side to show, which side to mark, as well as assessing defensive distances and planning how to win the ball back.
This is relevant to every match we play in, and we practise the session each week. MORE
We’re looking for attackers to fashion goalscoring opportunities both when in and out of possession, while defenders must concentrate on defensive compactness, discipline and communication. This resilience is a feature of every successful team, and being able to penetrate this line effectively on a consistent basis is central to winning football matches. MORE
“…fantastic… I encourage all my coaches to read it,”