How to Teach Your Players to Delay When Defending

By Danny Carvalho

Question - “When defending, my players "dive in" too often and don't win the challenge. What drills can I use to teach my players to delay and be more patient?”

One of my favorite works is the individual defensive skills and tactics. Most people think it’s too hard and challenging but it can actually be quite simple and effective.

To start with, I’ll give you something that you and the players will never forget: THE 4 “S” of defense!
1- Slow down
2- Side on
3- Sit down
4- Step in

Once the defender closed down and got close to the opponent, that’s when they need to (1) SLOW DOWN. Stay on the opponent’s way, “be an obstacle” but don’t dive in yet! Once they slowed down, comes the moment to force the opponent to their weak foot, to a teammates’ direction or away from our goal by staying (2) SIDE ON. Next step is to (3) SIT DOWN. That means lowering gravity center by bending their knees a bit. This will make it easier for the defender to change direction or sprint after the attacker in case of a big touch. Last step is to (4) STEP IN when the attacker gives the chance. The triggers to step in are:

• Ball far from front foot
• Foot off the ground / off balance
• Attacker dribbles backwards

Follow below a simple, effective and fun activity to develop this on your players.

In doubles, one ball each double, 20 to 30 yards apart and facing each other. Players on the right will start with the ball.

Yellow players will send the ball to the black players and sprint towards them to close them down. Once they get to an optimal distance, they are going to implement the 4S as the black players dribble against them. As this happens, the yellow players will jockey back to their lines while marking the black players. At this point of the activity, yellow players will not try to win the ball. We are only working on the technique.

After three rounds, swap players so everyone gets a good number of repetitions no matter what position they usually play.

Next step is to make this a little bit more game realistic. So now, defenders will actually try to win the ball. So, we are going to make it be a 1v1 this time. Set up some 1v1 corridors on the same structure with end scoring zones. The scoring rules is:

• 1 point every time you win the ball
• -1 point every time you get scored on

To make it more challenging and motivating, call the corridors division 1, 2, 3, 4… Play for 1 to 2minutes rounds. Winner goes up a division, loser goes down a division. Winner on the 1st division stays there, loser on the bottom division stays there.

1. Always emphasize the 4S
2. Game principles: 1st goal of a defender is to avoid getting scored on. 2nd goal is to stop progression. 3rd is to win the ball.
3. Attention to the triggers to step in

- Split the corridor into two halves. Defender can go into opponent’s zone but can only win the ball when attacker storms into his half.
- 2v1

By Danny Carvalho, DOC at Corinthians Campinas Youth Club,  Brasil

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