The Importance of Teaching Individual Defending

I think coaches spend a lot more time teaching offensive skills and techniques than they do teaching young players how do defend individually and in small groups. The attacking techniques of dribbling, passing and shooting are easy to create training sessions around and they are definitely the sexier skills of the game. But teaching a young player to defend a 1 v 1 effectively is vital to their development as a player.

This point was driven home to me last weekend as my teams played their first games of the new season. We had worked on all of the attacking skills but spent no time learning how to defend correctly. There are so many topics to cover that you just can't do it all in two weeks of training sessions before the first game. So this week I'm going to be covering 1 v 1 and 2 v 2 defending with my teams before we play in a tournament next weekend.

John Walker presented an excellent session on individual defending at our Nebraska WORLD CLASS COACHING International Seminar this summer and I'm using the drills and coaching points he emphasized in that session as the foundation of my training this week.

1 v 1 Defending with Transition

JW-1The coach passes to the attacking player who controls the ball and tries to beat the defender to score. The defender tries to prevent the goal and gain possession of the ball.

Coaching Points

  • Closing down with pace
  • Make attacking predictable
  • End point
  • Body position:  low, side on, weight on back leg
  • Contact:  use arms, legs, hips – be big
  • Get body between opponent and ball
  • Transition to attack:  keep ball (not kicked out of play) by passing, shielding or dribbling

1 v 1 Defending to Goal with Transition

JW-21The server passes to the attacking player who works to beat the defender and score. If the defender gains possession he tries to score in the small goal on his side of the field.

Coaching Points

  • All key points as above plus the following:
  • No separation as will lead to free shot by attacker
  • Preparation to block shot or take away half of goal to aid GK
  • Add a wall play for attackers – so now defenders are dealing with defending against 1-2s around top of box
  • Transition to attack

These sessions are not complicated but very effective ways to teach players the key principles of individual defending.

Are there others ways that you've used with your teams to teach the skills and techniques of defending.

Have a Great Day!


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