Working on Defenders Endurance in a Numbers Down Situation

By Jebreel Bubtana, BRASA, Brazilian Soccer Academy

This exercise starts with 3 attackers in a large triangle shape around 25 yards out from goal and 2 defenders that start either side of the goal (figure 1). The idea of this exercise is to get the defenders working as hard as possible, which is why they are in a numbers down situation. To keep this exercise at a high intensity, make sure that there are a number of balls ready for the defenders to pass into the attackers. This will speed up the exercise and keep the defenders working at maximum intensity. This also puts the attackers and defenders in a real situation that they are likely to face in a game. Award the defenders points for stopping the attackers from scoring a goal, this will provide them with an incentive to work hard, especially for the younger age groups.

The defenders start with the ball and pass the ball to one of the attackers. Make sure that the defenders alternate, which attacker they pass the ball to in order to have the defenders face a different situation every time (figure 2).

The two defenders close the ball down quickly to try and stop the attackers from scoring. Closing the ball down quickly is essential in order for the defenders to be successful in this exercise. By closing down quickly, the defenders can limit the space that attackers have and keep the attackers as far away from goal as possible. The defenders sprinting out to close down the ball will ensure that this exercise is done at a high intensity and so work on their endurance. The aim of the defenders is to clear the ball away from danger (figure 3).

The set up for the progression is the same but with 2 small goals out wide on the right and left in line with where the attackers start. It is important for them to understand that they have another option in this situation, which is to keep the ball and pass it out (figure 4).

The defenders still earn points by stopping the attackers from scoring but now they can earn an extra point by winning the ball back and passing it into the small goals out wide. This is just like the defenders winning the ball back and passing it out wide to their team mates like a full back or wide midfielder (figure 5).

This exercise can be adapted to different numbers (2v1, 3v1, 4v2, 4v3) as long as the defenders are in a numbers down situation. This ensures that the defenders have to work hard to win the ball back. Not only do the defenders have to sprint out to close the ball down and keep the attackers as far away from goal as possible, but they also have to worry about the extra attacker and close that player down if they are passed the ball.

Jebreel Bubtana
NSCAA Advanced National Diploma
NSCAA Director of Coaching Diploma

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