Four Color Cone Defending Drill

The following session is an excerpt from Soccer Awareness eBook 19: The Principles of Defending for U8 to U14

Teaching the principles of defending is a vital Art that every coach and player must learn, in theory it is 50% of the game, we cannot score if we cant win the ball in the first place.

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. 

four color cone defending drill

Four cones, red, blue, yellow and white, coach calls different colors players have to adjust side to side to get there quickly. 5 to 6 seconds each pair. Defenders are now shifting quickly and against the movement of the attacker when the attacker decides to shift the ball one way or the other. Only do it for 5 or 6 seconds because in games defenders only stay down there like this for that time period generally. How quickly can they do it?

Change Cone Set Up

Defenders do not just move laterally but they move in different directions such as diagonally and also forwards and backwards. Move the cones so they are at angles to each other. So in pairs and again calling the color, the same routine but a different cone set up so running in different directions and at different angles.  

Progression: Open it up so distances are longer.

Do three pairs at once all starting on the same color. 

The head forward and the “sitting down” position                                                                                
Maldini of AC Milan gets into this position with his knees tucked in, like skiers do.                                                                                                        
If going to shift to the left; then the right leg does the work, if to right; then the left leg does the work. Getting into this position is physically hard work also.

Longer distance (one outside cone to the other) then can cross legs over and run a couple of strides and on the last two strides do the shifting style side to side. So run a couple of strides first then the feet go side to side as opposed to crossing.

Now side to side to each cone; pressing inside the cone. Have the left foot in line with the left cone, right foot in line with the right cone showing inside.. Check that the feet are right so run at each cone, hold, check, and then go again to the next one. Next show outside so get your right foot just about level with the left cone, your left foot the same with the right cone. You might give half a yard but no more because if you give more the attacker will cut across and inside you. It can be a curved run if you have time.  

Showing outside; get the foot, “just about”, level with the ball.  

Two Passers positioned at the end of the Balls.

Instructions: On the first run, defenders press each ball and show the ball (the dribbler) to the outside. On the 2nd run the defender shows the ball to the inside. At the end of the run, the defender presses a couple of one touch passes made by the two end players, then goes back to the end of the line to start again.

Coaching Points: 

  1. Speed to the ball is important and "putting on the brakes" just before each ball is key too. 
  2. Do not cross legs in transition. 
  3. "Sit Down" (bend legs) when pressing.

Progression: Now 2 defenders working together press and support.


Instructions: This time the 1st defender has a 2nd defender, a covering player, behind. On the first run, defenders press each ball and show the ball (the dribbler) to the outside. On the 2nd run, the defenders show the ball to the inside. Check the 2nd defenders position each time. Ask the players to show you where they think their support position is.

At the end of the run, the defenders press a couple of one touch passes made by the two end players. In this case they switch over being the pressing player and the covering player.

You can do it two ways, the first defender is always the pressing player, or between each cone they alternate.