Defending decisions

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Defending as a zonal back four

by John Still in Defending

In this session, we try to give players an understanding of their roles and responsibilities in defensive zones in and around the box – this includes defending individually and as a back four unit. We also look at covering, team balance, and the ability to support. It’s important to practise this because, more than anywhere... MORE

Defending shapes

by Jimmy Bell in Defending

This session is looks at defensive structure – movement from side to side, pressure on the ball and cover from supporting players. Good defensive organisation is obviously called upon throughout matches, so these are principles that must always be practised. We believe that the unity of defenders and a shared knowledge of how to deal... MORE

Defending compact in midfield

by Alex Morris in Defending

This session places an emphasis on midfield units staying compact and being hard to penetrate when out of possession. I like to run this because although it is midfield weighted, it strongly focuses on defensive ideas, which is important because defending is traditionally a less appealing topic in the minds of players. The introduction of... MORE

The back four

by Paul Simpson in Defending

This session is all about making sure the defensive unit is organised. A strong, intelligent defence is crucial for keeping clean sheets, and achieving that aim is halfway towards winning matches. No matter who the opposition is, there will come a time in every game when the back four will be asked the toughest of... MORE

Clearing defensive danger

by John Sheridan in Defending

This session is about the reactions and movements of defensive players. It looks primarily at the role of the back four in squeezing up and condensing play as they would do in a match day situation, yet also checks on how players in other areas need to adapt their movements so as to protect the... MORE

Defensive transition

by Mark Sampson in Defending

With this session, we are looking to develop the player’s decision-making ability and the execution of his/her actions in the moment that possession is turned over. Working with the players to understand the importance of balance, both in attack and defence, are consistent themes for us as a group. A key aspect of our balance... MORE

When to press and when to drop

by Nathan Jones in Defending

This session is all about teaching players when to press and when to drop as a defensive unit and it encourages them to identify and respond to the visual triggers shown by their opponents. As a practice, it allows for the consistent repetition of the key triggers but within varied circumstances, helping players to quickly... MORE

Penalty box battles

by Dave Jones in Defending

Defending is a skill that needs practice, as much as dribbling or passing. Within that, it’s vital that players win their 1v1 duels, particularly in and around the penalty box. When we look back over matches where the team has emerged victorious, we’ll often find that our defenders have performed the defending principles well. We... MORE

Low block & emergency defending

by Matthew Bishop in Defending

Most teams will employ the low block at some point during a season. The key principle of this session is to block the middle of the pitch, starve the opposition of space in terms of vertical lines and prioritise showing the opposition wide. MORE


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