D3. DEFENDING – Organization/Communication Part 1 

D3. DEFENDING – Organization/Communication Part 1  1hr 45min
Quote of the Session: “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth Jr., American professional baseball player
Warm Up/Agility 10 mins
Warm Up – Proper Defensive Stance
As a warm up to this team defense series, you can have the team start in groups of two with one ball per group. Have the player with the ball start on one sideline and dribble all of the way to the other sideline working on various moves as they go along. The second player would be working on a proper defensive stance with their feet constantly moving and feinting as if they are going to go in for a tackle. At no point should the defender actually try to win the ball. When the player with the ball gets to the far sideline, they switch and now she works on her defensive footwork and the other player works on moves. Next the player with the ball dribbles at the defender just like before, but now when the coach yells “switch” the player with the ball steps back into a defensive position and the other player becomes the attacker. This does a good job of working on quick transition from offense to defense and is a great way to warm up for the team defense series.
Small Sided Game 15 mins
3 v 3 + 3, 2 GK Defending

  • To encourage front players to organize defensively to regain possession and create goal-scoring opportunities.


  • Three 48’ wide grids; 
  • two end-zone grids of about 20’ and a central grid of about 15’. 
  • Three teams of three players in different bib colors 
  • Two goalkeepers. 
Coaching Points

  • Pressure on the ball: directing play towards covering teammate to make play predictable. 
  • Cover player: read pressuring teammate movement early on and stay connected. 
  • Third player: anticipate through pass and intercept; otherwise initiate pressure on opposite grid.

  • Players in end-zones: objective is to connect 5 passes prior to switching the ball (on the ground) to the opposite grid. 
  • Players in central zone: objective is to organize defensively to capture the ball and finish with a shot in goal. Defend with two players with one remaining in the middle grid to intercept through passes to opposite grid. 
  • Intervals: 2-3 minutes before switching central players.


  • Play with four players in each team increasing the grid width as necessary.
Technical/Tactical 50 mins
1st, 2nd and 3rd Defenders Working Together 
The first progression in this series requires 6 players split in teams of two. The field is 15 yards wide and 25 yards long and 3 players are on offense as set up like the X’s in the diagram below and three like the O’s on defense. In the beginning, the X’s are stationary and pass the ball back and forth taking three touches. When the ball is in the center, the defense needs to adjust as shown in the 2nd diagram.

This allows the first defender to pressure the ball and the two outside defenders to take on the role of the second defender and offer support. The X’s are NOT permitted to go forward but they want to take their touches as quickly as possible to make the defense move quickly. When the ball goes to the outside players, the defenders adjust accordingly as shown in the 3rd and 4th diagrams. 
After the defenders work hard for 2 minutes, they should switch places with the offensive players.
Once the players are confident in their movements, the next step is say that after 5 passes, the offensive players may leave their positions and try to get the ball from one side of the field to the other. The defense is still not allowed to try to win the ball and the only thing they can do is maintain proper positioning to prevent the attackers from getting to their intended point.
Next the players can go live with the offense doing anything they want to get across the end line and the defenders allowed to win the ball. There are a lot of other variations that can be built into this drill such as putting a keeper on the far end line and having them work on communication by telling the defenders what to do. Also, while working on communication, you can have the keepers be the intended target of the offensive players. In order to get a point, they must chip the ball into the keepers hands (besides working on communication and chipping, this also forces the defense to get the players heads down so they can’t find the keeper).
Be creative and this drill can be an entire training session or you can use the rest of the drills in this progression.
Small Sided Game 30 mins
  • Two teams with goalkeepers.
  • Playing field of 40x20m
  • One goal at each end
Regular play with minimal coach intervention.

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