A Short and Simple Explanation on How to Defend

Get more like this in Soccer Awareness eBook 19: The Principles of Defending for U8 to U14.

This book takes you through simple individual beginnings to more complex unit and team ideas on defending. We address all the important facets of defending such as pressure on the ball and how to tackle or delay, immediate supporting positions, covering positions beyond the support player, the importance of recovery runs to get back goal side of the ball (which many players don't like or want to do), the need for players to track back individual opponents so they do not overload areas against us; and ultimately how we must develop compactness as a team. 

Attacking to Defensive Team Shape

Attacking: Based on the 5 corridors width-wise we want all 5 corridors to have players in them.

Based length–wise we want a maximum of 2 of 3 zones filled; with the exception of the keeper.

Defending: Based on the 5 corridors width-wise we want a maximum of 3 corridors filled with players preferably 2.5 if possible.

Based length-wise we want a maximum of 2 of 3 zones filled preferably the whole team is condensed into 1.5 zones or at most half a field.

Dividing the field into fifths widthwise and thirds lengthwise: The Offensive Set Up

Playing in 5 Corridors widthwise to help define the positioning of players. Also playing in 3 thirds from goal to goal lengthwise (lets call these ZONES FOR CLARITY). Here we have a good balance with players positioning at angles to each other. Must get the team into 2 thirds only, except for the keeper, both offensively and defensively.

Shadow Play: The Defensive Set Up

Play without opponents and show our basic attacking shape then offer alternatives for pressing as a group and have them do it as fast as possible. Use different color cones to represent where we lost the ball then organize the team around this defensive starting point having the players decide where they think they should be and why.

Can extend this back to the middle third also

We lose it wide in the middle third; purple cone; try to press them inside still to where our strength is with numbers. Wing full backs have to be brave and stay in midfield but condense in. (3) delays, shows inside to (10), the rest condense. (10) cuts off passing lane forward as does (11) inside or back.. It will NEVER be this picture perfect but all the same it shows what we should strive for. Pivot (6) is the key for cover.

Playing a Pressing game comes from the back

If we want to play a pressing game then we must have the back four as high as possible (essentially a back 3 now) and then the responsibility of the front players is to press asap when we lose it to stop a counter attack. Same in midfield where we now have our wing fullbacks positioned.

Pressing in attacking third condensing to 3 corridors

Condensing the spaces close to the ball. (11) forces (A) inside to the support and blocks the pass to (I). (3) is already up there and so is the next pressing player. Don’t worry about (D) and (G) and (4) already has covered the space should (A) be able to play the ball long. Defending just inside our own half.