Defensive Soccer Skills

By Patrick Beith

A lot of emphasis is placed on the offensive side of soccer, but like you know, it might not be flashy but defense wins games. Here are 6 great defensive soccer drills that you can take to practice today.

1. Two on One Defense Drill

A defensive player kicks the football out to two offensive players. The defender follows the pass and tries to win the football back and clear it toward either of two goals placed wide. The offensive players try to score on goal.

Rotation: The player who shoots or loses the ball rotates to the defensive line. The other two players go to the offensive line.

Improves tackling, passing and shooting skills.

2. First Out Defensive Drill

This is a good game to play at almost any age below U12. It is a simple 1 v 1 game where players are divided into two teams. Each player is given a number.

The coach calls out a number (or sometimes two) and then throws a football into the air that the players have to gain control of.

Since we are teaching aggressiveness and shoulder charging, use the same restriction that we had above in BANG, i.e. no tackling. The player must be relieved of the ball with a shoulder charge.

If you have a meek player that never challenges, handicap the better player by either restricting her run at the ball so the meeker player gets there first or by playing the air ball closer to the meeker player so the more aggressive player has further to run.

3. Cone Training

Partners with ball and cone as server and defender. Server with ball 10 yards from cone, defender a few feet behind cone. Server with ball passes to cone, defender steps around cone to intercept pass.

4. Defend the Attack Drill

Groups of 4 with two balls. Two players as servers, 10 to 15 yards apart. Two other players as attacker and defender. Attacker works from end to end to receive ball to feet, defender works to deny ball.

5. No Goal on Me Drill

Player’s work in pairs with one ball between them. Each player is the goal line for this drill. A rope or chalk on the field or cones are set up equally in the space between the players. Each player defends his/her goal line while trying to score on their opponent. Players have unlimited touches but must remain in their own side of the playing area. Hands cannot be used. Player’s try to block shots and control the ball to prevent the ball crossing their goal line.

Coach may distance the player’s as far apart as they deem most appropriate based on the skill level of their player’s.

6. Triangle Defense Drill

Set up a triangular goal in the middle of a 50 x 50 grid.

Play an even sided game with both teams having their own keeper.

Both teams try to score through any one of the three sides of the triangular goal.

It is best to place the goal in the centre of a 20 yard in diameter circle, with only the keepers allowed inside the circle.

If the keeper catches the ball, his or her team must take the ball outside of the grid before they may attack again.

Play with 2 balls for real excitement.

Goalkeepers may become attacking players when their team has possession.


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