Traveling With the Movement of the Ball in Defending - Training Center Exclusive

Using One Word Commands to move the team around

Use the signal words UP, OUT, HOLD, DROP, and SLIDE, to determine the movement. Eventually we need to work up to an 11 v 11 situation showing how to work a team as individuals, as units and ultimately a team.


Initial defensive movements in a Shadow Play

Here the coach moves to the outside and the whole back four and 2 central midfielders adjust their positions across the field (slide right) to compensate for this movement, (2) being the player to apply immediate pressure on the ball. Stop and check the defensive set up. Ask Questions.


A Simple pressing exercise

Players with the ball pass it across in front of the defenders. Defenders adjust their positions to mirror this movement. This is working on marking zones and marking players and distinguishing between the two depending on where the ball is.


Shadow Play

Once they have grasped this very simple concept you can move the players to the next progression. The coach now has players to pass the ball to (opponents). These players initially must be in STATIC positions to check the set up. You can us a rope to tie the four defenders together to get the idea of moving as a unit. Players maintain an open stance so they can see opponents as well as the ball.


Introduce a Striker in the Shadow Play

Defending team can win back the ball only with interceptions of passes not with tackles to allow us to look at the shape they achieve. If they win it they play the ball to the Coach and we start again.


Add more players let the game go free. Defending team can play to small goals as a reward.

If you have numbers you can build up to an 11 v 11 game. G for Goal. Stop and ask players to fix the problem when things are wrong. THEY decide the course of action not you. If not correct then guide them to the right decision.


Recovery runs from midfield and testing the back four with the ball in front of them

We have been caught attacking in numbers. Make the defensive challenge more difficult by putting the midfield in recovering positions to help the back four. The back four can be patient when the ball is in midfield and keep their shape delaying the opponents until the midfield recover back to help. Count to 3 seconds then midfielders recover


Our defensive shape when we have the ball

When we attack we take shape like this. So its understandable we need to work on defending with this in mind it will not be from a back 4 start position necessarily. Try to stay above the defensive line.


Pass is intercepted by (G) and we recover like this. (8) steps into the passing lane to stop the pass to the strikers and force the pass wide to give us time to defend and recover. Try to stay above the defensive line.


Positioning at the back when losing the ball

  • A consequence of being attacking minded with both wing backs attacking is we can be exposed.

  • Often caught 1 v 1 in wide areas because of this.

  • Defenders (center backs and defensive midfielders must adjust in “anticipation” of this happening.

Both wing backs attacking. We lose the ball, the most vulnerable place for us is now the wide area as shown. We mark “goal-side” and leave the wide area open.


We are exposed with a 1 v 1 wide

If (J) is fast we are in big trouble now as he attacks defender (4) in a 1 v 1. He could run inside to goal or into a crossing position. Next we show how we can prevent this before it happens.


What Should Happen

This is what should happen; (4) moves channel side of (J) and with depth to fill the space and prevent the pass. (6) drops in to cover or (5) if closer can do it. This may delay the forward momentum of (A) and allow recovery runs.


Here (5) adds cover to (4) if needed, and (6) drops back to cover (K)s run. If (A) passes to (J)’s feet then (4) has time to close (J) down and control the situation with (J) with their back to goal. Other players will try to recover back.