D4. DEFENDING – Organization/Communication Part 2

D4. DEFENDING – Organization/Communication Part 2 1hr 45min
Quote of the Session: “It’s not about being the best. It’s about being better than you were yesterday.”Anonymous
Warm Up/Agility 10 mins
3 v 1 Rotating Defenders
  • Create a grid that is approximately 10X10 yards.
  • Split players into groups of 6.
  • Place 3 players inside the grid as attackers in an alternate jersey.
  • The remaining 3 players line up as defenders behind one corner cone with the supply of balls.
  • Focus on the quality of passes such as weight, pace, accuracy.
  • A well timed run facing the passing direction will assure a more accurate pass.
  • The players must communicate with each other to make the game easier.
  • Players must concentrate on making runs off the ball.
  • Encourage players to play in 1 or 2 touches.
  • Good first touch towards space
  • Good decision making (make play easy)
The first defender passes a ball into the 3 attackers. The defender immediately step into the grid and become the defender creating a 3v1 inside the grid. The 3 attackers attempt to put together as many passes as possible. The attackers continue passing until the defender wins the ball, or the ball is knocked out of play. Once the play is dead, the next defender plays into the same 3 attackers, and play resumes.


Adjust grid (larger grid = easier for attackers but harder for defenders; smaller grid = harder for attackers but easier for defenders)

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 – Progression 1
The next step in this progression requires a field 25 yards wide and 35 yards wide. There needs to be a small semi-circle on each end line as shown in the following diagram: The ideal number for this drill is 12 players who would be broken into 3 teams of 4. Whichever team is resting puts 2 players in each semi-circle. The two other teams play 4v4 with a goal scored by passing the ball into the semi-circle and having the ball received by the resting players. If team A is trying to score in the goal to the left, and is successful then they get to retain the ball and go in the other direction. By setting up the field this way, it will force the defending team to maintain proper defensive support positions or else it’s easy to score. Also, if the team does get scored upon, they are forced to respond quickly and get back in the other way to defend or else they will keep letting up goals. Some variations on this include mandating that in order to score a goal, the ball must be chipped (and received) into the semi-circle.
Play 3 minute games and rotate the teams into resting area. This game can be played with as few as two players per team or as many as you want. The number of variations are only limited by your creativity. Constantly reinforce the need for the defense to get behind the ball and maintain proper support at all times. While this is a simple drill to set up, it works on defensive support, defensive recovery, offensive runs and support, chipping, receiving balls in the air, and many more things. It can also be turned into a very competitive game with the team that lets up a goal having to step off and be in the goals. Use this to encourage players to always want to win. With all of the possible variations on this drill, this can be a complete training session, or you can use it with the drills from the previous progression or you can wait for the next drills which are the end of the 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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