Put your defence under pressure with this defensive drill

by Pablo M11th Mar 2020

Often in a game the defence is outnumbered by the opposition. Your defenders need to be ready for these scenarios. In this post we discuss a drill that emulates a defence under pressure.


You can practice this drill with just 5 players: 3 attackers and 2 defenders. Setup a small pitch using 6 cones and 2 small goals. You can setup multiple of these mini-pitches depending on the space you have available to use. If you have half of a football field, you can train up to 15 players simultaneously. The picture below illustrates the last scenario.

Defence under pressure
Drill created with Tactics Manager


There are two teams, defenders vs attackers. A player in the attacking team starts the game from behind their own goal. The remaining players are waiting in pairs per zone, one attacker and one defender. The drill continues as follows:

  • The unmarked attacker passes the ball to the teammate located in his own half, and starts a run into the attacking half.
  • The receiving player attempts to pass the ball to the team mate waiting in the attacking zone or the player running into the attacking zone. The defender will stop this from happening.
  • If the attacker manages to pass the ball, the defender must sprint back to support his team mate.
  • The player receiving the ball in the attacking half can attempt to score or pass back the ball to any of his team mates, who at this stage can also shoot at goal.
  • The defenders objective is to gain control of the ball and stop any attempts at goal.
  • If the defenders recover the ball, they can attempt to score in the opposite goal by passing the ball to each other or by a long distance shot.
  • When a goal is scored, players in each team rotate positions and restart the drill restarts with one of the attackers passing the ball to a team mate.

The basic rules to follow are:

  • Attackers are allowed unlimited touches in their own half.
  • Attackers are allowed only two touches in their attacking half.
  • Defenders are allowed only two touches regardless of the area of the field.
  • Sliding tackles are not allowed.
  • Only one of the attacking players can drop back to their own half to provide a passing option.
  • Attacking players can only score from the attacking half.
  • Defending players can score from anywhere.


This drill emulates putting your defence under pressure, but it also helps strikers to practice dribbling and moving in attacking triangles.

  • Unlimited touches in the first half allow the attacker to practice his dribbling skills and the defender to improve his 1vs1 defensive skills.
  • Not allowing sliding tackles forces defenders to be patient and keep their position.
  • Allowing the defenders to score from distance encourages them to clear the ball into a target instead of just kicking it far. In a real game the target is a team mate ready for a counterattack.
  • Forcing defenders to use two touches stops defenders from dribbling in the danger zone. Instead, they will have to look for their team mate to move out in an orderly manner, or if this is not possible, clear the ball into a target.
  • Because defenders are outnumbered, they learn the importance of being patient and positioning.
  • Rotating players allows everyone to practice different skills. Attacking players switch from practising dribbling to move in triangles with quick touches. Defending players transition from 1v1 defending to defend in zone and closing spaces.

I hope you find this defensive drill useful. If you like this post, please share with your friends. If you know other exercises or have any questions, leave a comment below.