By George Kee
1v1 defending occurs numerous times throughout a match. This exercise teaches players to defend from different angles. Players gain experience defending when approaching from the front, side, and behind.
Area Size: Attacking 3rd
# Of Players: 10-15
Time: 30 minutes
Set up: Four cones placed in a square at the top of the penalty area. 4 numbered defenders are placed at each cone. A line of attackers start 10 yards out.
Execution: The attacker begins dribbling into the square, at some point the coach will call out a number and that defender will close down on the ball and attempt to block the shot as the players play 1v1 to goal. The coach can call the number at varied times in order to change the angle of approach from the defender.
Defenders approaching from the front should close down at an angle; body position should be side on with knees bent.
Defenders approaching from behind or the side should look to create contact with a shoulder challenge to disrupt the dribbler. From here the defender can get between the dribbler and the ball to win possession or get in front to delay.
Setup and execution: 3 colored goals set up 20 yards away from line of attackers. A line of defenders starts on the side halfway between the goals and the attacker. The attacker will begin dribbling and at the same time the defender will come off the cone and close down. At some point the coach will call out a color which will indicate which goal the players will attack and defend.
Defenders should first look to get in the ball line between the attacker and the goal. Once the ball line has been cut out the defender should begin to close down. This exercise can also be used to stress the importance of putting in the extra work to block shots.
• Good defensive body position, side on, knees bent, balance on toes
• Using the shoulder when tackling from the side
• Getting in the ball line between the ball and the goal
Originally from San Antonio, Texas, George moved to northern California in 2014 to take over as the head soccer coach at Lassen College. In his brief time with the program George has won an undefeated conference title, coached four players of the year, and won three Coach of the Year Awards.
By Sean Pearson
Area: Half a field
• For players to understand the defensive shape of the style
• To frustrate the attacking team
The defending team sets up in a 4-2-3 or a 4-4-1. The attacking team is in a 4-3-3 formation without the 2 CB’s. The attacking team is trying to score and the defending team is trying to stop them. If the attacking team score, they win, if the defending team don’t concede they win.
Execution:The term parking the bus is considered a negative in today’s game. It is considered a cheap tactic to stop another, probably a better, team from creating clear chances and scoring. Let’s be honest, it’s extremely hard to play against, and score, as well as highly frustrating. I for one can’t stand playing against it but in my frustration, I have accepted that sometimes it is necessary. Now would I do it for younger players of 12 and under, no. Not even 13-15 however at 16+ it becomes a vital tool to use.
I do not advocate for it to be used all the time but in certain situations absolutely. What is the point of soccer at the top level? It is to win and nobody knows that better than Jose Mourinho. He does not care about people’s opinions on what he does, he cares about the result. Now that might not be the case for 16-18 year old players but make no mistake about it, players at this age want to win. In fact, all players want to win at any level, its normal, its healthy and I think winning has become a dirty word that people are afraid to use in youth soccer anymore as it’s all about development. Which I agree with but winning is development too. Do I think youth teams should win at all costs, no but its ok for coaches and players to want to win. You can do that and develop players at the same time.
Now, back from my little tangent. What ‘parking the bus’ is, is really players behind the ball in an organized fashion denying penetration through numbers. It also teaches players to be patient and encourages communication. So the way Mourinho ‘parks the bus’, as described in my article analysis the Liverpool v Man Utd game on Oct 17th 2016, is he has his wingers drop back so they are level with his back for, making a back line of 6. His back 4 become very narrow to deny space between each player along the back line and the #10 drops down to make a narrow midfield 3. Depending on where players are at certain times it might not always be the #10 in the middle but there a narrow midfield 3 nonetheless.
So, when the attacking team pass the ball around the defending team should look like below. The role of the defending team is to allow the attacking team as much time as possible with the ball when they have the ball ahead of them but to remain organized and close together. The reason for being so close together is if one players does get beat there is a 2nd then a 3rd and even 4th player close by something even Messi would struggle with. The likely hood of quick, accurate 1 or 2 touch passing to penetrate the sheer tight nit numbers is extremely low.
When the attacking team slides the ball over to one side to avoid the 3 midfielders in the middle, the whole team slides with the ball to outnumber the attackers on that side. Even with a more attacking formation of a 4-3-3, there are 2 strikers and attacking midfielder and an advanced full back all forward but there are 7 defenders to their 4. Then there is a GK to get past.
If the attacking team tries to switch the ball via a U shape or long diagonal, because there are 6 players in the back line it is easy for them to engage quickly with the opposite side.
• When the defending team win the ball allow them to play forward and see if they can move the ball past the half way line
• Have the defensive midfielder double as a target striker
By Sean Pearson
Area Size: Quarter or Half field (depending on age of players)
Teams: 15 – 20 mins
Players: 7 v 7
2 teams set up in a 2-3-1 formation in a scrimmage like scenario.
The aim for this session is for your team to work together defensively by stifling forward progression of the opposition and frustrating the other team into backwards and sideways passes until they become frustrated. Your team must stay close together to stop penetrating passing lines into the feet of players further up the field. They cut off angles so the only available pass is one of backwards or sideways.
The defending team does not have to sit right in front of their own goal for this tactic to work. It is more effective to perform it in the middle of the field. As the opposition pass wide, the defending wide midfielder gets across to pressure the player on the ball so they can’t move forwards, the rest of the team slides across, compacting that side of the field, leaving the opposite wing open. The striker drops down to stop any balls into the center of midfield.
As the ball travels back to the CB the striker of the defending team presses the CB to force them to make a quick decision, again not allowing forward penetration. The obvious pass is sideways to the free CB. The team again slide into the middle to compact the area directly in front of or around the ball.
Now we have a little change of shape, because we don’t want to be so compact that passes out wide can break the defensive lines. Again the focus is to stop forward penetration by cutting off forwards passing options. As the ball travels to the opposite CB, the striker drops down to stop passes into the CM. The wide midfielder stays narrow to stop passes into the striker’s feet. The FB comes across to pressure the WM when they receive the ball and the CB and opposite WM slide across to cover and keep defensive shape.
As the ball arrives to the WM the FB is close to Pressure them, the WM has dropped down to block the pass into the striker’s feet again and striker drops to stop passes into the CM again, this leaves a pass backwards to the CB as the only pass available.
Players need to understand that they are working as a team to stop forward progression and not become individual and start to run all over the field. If players can win the ball when pressing then absolutely go for it, but the aim is to frustrate the other team going forward and giving the ball away by trying passes that are not on.
When the other team wins possession the defending team aims to frustrate and stop forward progression just like they experienced.