A good defence is the building block of any great team. The articles in this section will help you coach your players to work as a defensive unit. We look at how your players should organise themselves, what are their roles and responsibilities as defenders, and how they should react in different defensive situations. With work, you should be able to coach your players to control the game at the back and to start great passing moves leading to goals at the other end.

  • Defending as a unit - In this session we look at developing teams ability to defend as a unit.

  • Never Concede from a Corner Again - Giving players specialist positions during matches can be extremely effective. Tell them where to stand, what to do and how to do it, particularly in situations where your team is under pressure. Are you conceding a lot of goals from corners? Then you need a player to stand BIG at the front of your penalty area to block the corner taker. Do this properly and you need never concede from a corner again.

  • Tony Carr on defending corners football drill - One of the key elements of a defensive strategy for your team is getting your players to know their positions at corners, says Tony Carr, Academy Director at West Ham United.

  • How to Pass the Ball Out from the Back - Good teams can pass the ball out from the back in a structured controlled manner. Tony Carr, Academy Director at West Ham United, explains how to coach your players to do it.

  • Shape up your team to defend all over the pitch - Shapes are important in football. They happen all over the pitch, but you must make sure your players know how they work. Playing 3v3 matches shows you how to use triangles, says David Clark

  • How to Keep Attackers at Bay - When your defender is the last man, if he jumps into a tackle and doesn't win it, the attacker is through on goal. So, you need to teach your players ways to hold up an opponent until help arrives, says David Clarke.

  • How to Coach Effective Marking - What you tell your players the session is about: 1. How to mark opponents effectively.
    2. When to mark players and when to cover spaces.

  • The Attacking Defender - When a defender plays the ball out of his penalty area to one of his midfielders or attackers he should not stop running. He should run outside the attacker, to help put pressure on the opponents, says David Clarke.

  • Coping with Aerial Bombardment - A great way to put your defenders under pressure at training is to get your players to bombard your best three defenders with high balls into the penalty area so they are constantly having to clear them, says David Clarke.

  • Providing cover for a team-mate against an opponent - There's nothing worse for an attacking player than getting past the defender only to find another one in his way. So how do you get your players to cover?

  • Defending against attacking wingers - A great drill to get your players clearing the ball.

  • Football coaching tips on becoming more compact in defence - In one of the matches we played this week my U10s team was attacking – all the players were in advanced positions. The opposition defence won the ball and were moving quickly to counter attack.

  • Football attack versus defence game - This is a brilliant attack versus defence game that keeps players on their toes. Not only must they work together to fashion chances or protect their goal, but the rotation of players on and off the pitch means that play stays fresh and committed.

  • Football shooting game to help coach defensive tactics - Shooting games are great to coach players defensive tactics - especially when the defender must win the ball to create a chance to shoot.

  • Football drill on defenders moving goal-side - Here is a tactic for your players to understand that getting goal-side may be one of the basic must-dos of the game but it can also be used as a tactic to stop the opposition breaching your defence.

  • Football tips on the defensive midfielder position - A strong player who wins the ball and passes it to the feet of the attackers... I'm sure everybody wants one in their team but don't worry, you can create your own.

  • Football tips on the covering defender - When a defender is applying pressure to an attacker with the ball, it is important they have support in the form of a second or "covering" defender. This is to ensure that if the attacker beats the first defender, any progress is stifled by the second one.

  • Football coaching game for attacking and defending - This is an all-action three-man attacking and defending game in one respect. It rehearses players in communicating well and showing strong teamwork values while the use of the neutrals adds a clever tactical element.

  • Football coaching session for the covering defender - When a defender is applying pressure to an attacker with the ball, it's important they have support in the form of a second or "covering" defender. That's to ensure that if the attacker beats the first defender, any progress is stifled by the second one.

  • Football session for the full back versus wide player - It is crucial to win your 1v1 battles in wide areas of the pitch whether attacking or defending. Developing your full backs and wide players so they can win these clashes in this part of the field could lead to clearing danger or putting in a threatening cross.

  • Manchester United's three-ball routine - Manchester United's first-team coach Rene Meulensteen developed what he called the three-ball routine to increase team speed and mental awareness. I saw it in action and it was a real flurry of movement and attacking action.

  • Football coaching session to put pressure on opponents - A good defence will be able to pressure its opponent into making a mistake. The rule of this session is that the nearest player to the ball must go to pressure the player in possession.

  • Football coaching session on how to create space when tightly marked - In the old days of coaching, players were told to never pass the ball to another who has a marker tight on them. Nowadays, you see the top teams passing when players are surrounded by the opposition, and they can still receive the ball, control it and move it on. By Tony Carr.

  • Tactics session for your football strikers and midfielders - Using unopposed exercises for build-up and combination play in attack is a good way of coaching your players to move the ball, and encourages movement to support the ball as play moves around the pitch. By Michael Beale.

  • Changing numbers to defend the early ball - Often young defenders will go to the ball rather than stick with the attacker they are marking, which leaves big gaps in the defence.

  • Football coaching session for strikers to control the ball - Strikers playing with their backs to goal must move around to create space to receive a pass to feet. However, once this pass is made, a striker must ensure he controls the ball and uses his body to shield the ball from defenders.

  • 3v3v3 session on defending from the front - Closing down opposition defenders in their half is a job for your forwards and midfielders to do.

  • Hey, team mate, let's talk - This drill is 1v1 on the pitch but the defender receives verbal support from his team mate, which is crucial to developing a 2v1 defensive understanding. It helps players get used to talking to each other during matches and helping out verbally in situations where players cannot see each other.

  • Making decisions in the midfield - Being the boss in midfield means taking charge of all situations that arise and making the most of moments of transition.

  • When to put your opponent under pressure - Knowing when to tackle an opponent or close them down is an important part of the art of defending. Often players will jump in too soon or not get tight enough at the right time, in both cases the attacker will have the chance to beat the defender.

  • Regain possession by intercepting the ball - Intercepting the ball is a key alternative to the tackle so your team can regain possession to set up an attack.

  • Take control in the penalty area - It's important to try to get players taking control of their actions when inside the penalty area.

  • Coach your players to block the shot - Defenders can prevent certain goals from being scored by getting themselves between the goal and the ball. Some defenders have the ability to read the situation and manage to "throw" themselves in front of the ball to deflect it away from goal.

  • 5v2 three-goal defend - In this game, defenders work hard to pressure their opponent and block shooting opportunities. Having to defend three goals means defenders must make decisions and move quickly to cover space in front of them.

  • Around the world - I love this game from Michael Beale's Perfect Defending manual. There is such a lot of movement and changes in the angles of attack. It also requires match-like pace so players arrive on the pitch at different angles, speeds and levels of fatigue due to the attack that has just taken place.

  • Vision attack - This is a brilliant transitional game. 
    I expect a lot from my players so, true to form, here's a session that means they can be defending one second and attacking the next!

  • Defender's circuit - Defenders have to remain alert at all times so they know where the ball is and can move to defend an attack. Working on concentration is a vital part of your training sessions - you must include it in your schedule.

  • Stop the attacker - A great practice for dedicated defenders.

  • Play forward, score goals! - If you want your players to create more goalscoring chances in matches then getting them to move the ball forward quickly is a great way to start.

  • Captains of communication - Communication is the buzzword here and you may well discover your next club captain through this simple game!

  • Continuous defending with four goals - Shooting games are great to coach players defensive tactics - especially when the defender must win the ball to create a chance to shoot.

  • The Cole game - This session is designed around the two Coles – Joe and Ashley – who have both played for England. This practice combines the two players' abilities, Ashley's 1v1 defending skills and Joe's 1v1 attacking skills.

  • Minesweeper - The role of a sweeper is given to a player that plays behind the line of defenders. It is that player's duty to cover the space behind the defence and in front of the keeper, and sweep across to remove the danger of the opponent's attacks.

  • Formations - The 2-2-2 formation appears to be the obvious choice for a 7-a-side team with six outfield players because it covers every option. When you start coaching, you will come up against this formation more than most others.

  • Defending and attacking through passes - Through passes are a very important part of the game, both for attackers and defenders. Both types of player must react quickly to either capitalise on the chance or clear the danger.

  • Stop the attacker 1v1 football drill - The great thing about running 1v1 exercises is you can coach attacking and defending at the same time. 

  • Last Line Of Defence - Use this dynamic team game to teach your defenders how to read the game when battling in desperate one-on-one situations with an opposing striker.

  • Ready For Battle - Drill your defenders to cover each other while one of them deals with an incoming long ball that threatens your goal. Soon they’ll be experts at last-ditch defending.

  • Back Attack -

    Use this session to work on the attacking play of your fullbacks and encourage supporting runs and attempts on goal by your defenders.

  • Flying Fullbacks -

    Develop the shooting and crossing skills of your fullbacks with a session that encourages their attacking instincts

  • Corner Rebels -

    An end-to-end game that trains your players to successfully defend corners and to counterattack straight out of defence while your opponents are still upfield

  • Great Wall -

    If you want your team more resistant to set pieces, this useful exercise will encourage them to form a wall capable of withstanding direct free-kicks

  • Backs Forward -

    An end-to-end game that will give central defenders valuable attacking experience and teach them to get back quickly to defend against counterattacks

  • Free To Attack -

    Young central defenders are often slow in coming forward, but once they have played this game you won’t be able to stop them joining the attack

  • Hold 'Em Up -

    A good fullback will force flashy wingers wide in order to stop them from putting your goal under threat. Use this game to show your defenders what to do

  • Cool Hand Luke -

    A fun game that will encourage your defenders to be calm on the ball and confident in their passing, just like Southampton’s young star, Luke Shaw

  • Box Clever -

    This 2v2 box game will encourage your players to hold onto the ball and pass it safely under pressure, controlling the defence like Jan Vertonghen has for Spurs

  • Win The First Header -

    Use this game to get your defenders winning the ball in the air in order to head off an attack and start a counterattack, just like Dante does for Bayern Munich

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