Football is not all about scoring, you also need to stop opposition from scoring. Besides, all attacks start from recovering the ball. There is nothing more frustrating than players in the field that do not know how to defend. These simple individual defending drills will help you and your teammates to develop defensive skills.
This drill is executed without a ball. You will need a set of cones or similar to configure a grid of about 15 meters long by 5 meters wide. The attacker will try to get from one side of the grid to the other by getting around the defender. The defender will try to block the attacker by being physical and forcing the attacker to wherever there’s the least amount of space on the field. This drill is great to force the player on defense to be more physical.
When defending, if you stand straight up, you are going to get thrown off by the attacking player. You have to bend your knees and be low. Get your shoulders involved and be physical. Don’t use your hands, use your shoulders. If the referees sees you are using your hand, they are going to call it.
You don’t want to be too far away from the attacker. Keep yourself at maximum of an arm length away of your opposition. This way you close down spaces for the attacking player.
This drill is also good to improve your defending in corner kicks, free kicks and through balls. It doesn’t matter if you’re not going to be first to the ball, you’re not going to let the attacker get by.
You will need cones and a small goal. Use the cones to setup a playing grid of about 30 meters long and 10 meters wide. The defender stands besides the goal and the attacker on the opposite side of the delimited area.
The attacking player objective is to score. The defending player aim is to deny any goal opportunities by blocking a shot, pushing the defender out of the delimited area (applying the learnings from drill 1) or recovering the ball. The game restarts when either side fulfill their objective.
This drill simulates an opposition player breaking a line of defense and coming towards the next defender. This exercise is useful for both players. The attacking player practices dribbling and shooting skills, while the defender focuses on positioning, body usage and tackling.
For this drill, and the following individual defending drills, defenders should follow the tips described in our previous post: Defending one on one attacks.
This exercise is very similar to the previous drill. The setup is the same. The difference is that both players start from the same side. The attacker is given a few steps of advantage over the defender, but they can only score from close range (one meter or so away from goal).
This drill simulates an opposition player breaking a line of defense with defenders chasing from behind. This exercise is useful for both players. The attacking player practices dribbling and controlling the ball at speed, while the defender focuses on reaction and speed to get to position, body usage and slide tackling.
In this exercise is very likely that defenders will use sliding tackles to gain the ball. Make sure that if they do this, they do it using the right technique to avoid injuring themselves or a teammate.
You will need 3 players to complete this drill. Use an actual soccer field if possible. The drill is simple, one attacking player crosses the ball to a teammate running into the box towards the penalty spot. The running player attempts to score. The defender objective is to clear the ball.
This is a situation of a high level of difficulty for the defender. The attacker is outside his visual field. The defender should not made the mistake to watch only the ball. They have to keep searching for the attacker and look for the physical contact that will allow them to focus on the ball. The primary objective is to get the defender used to checking over their shoulder.
Like previous individual defending drills, this exercise is also good for attacking players.
Once all players master this drill and the skills required, you can increase difficulty by including a goalkeeper.
You will need 3 players to complete this drill. Use an actual soccer field if possible. The drill is simple, one attacking player passes the ball to a teammate standing in the box with his back towards the goal. The receiving player attempts to turn around to score. The defender objective is to keep the attacker from turning and scoring.
This a good exercise for all players involved. The player starting the drill improves accuracy on passing. The attacker becomes more comfortable playing with their back to goal. It also improves their sense on where the goal is relative to their position. The defender improves their ability to keep an attacker from turning and scoring by using positioning, footwork, and strength.
Once all players are comfortable with this drill, you can increase difficulty by including a goalkeeper.
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