OYSA Goal Lines

ODP '97 Functional Training 2010 — Defenders


Give all players a ball. Get players to dribble in a 10x15-yard grid. The grid can also be made larger depending on the ability of the players. On command, "CHANGE," players have to leave their own ball and find another to continue dribbling. This encourages kids to be aware of what is going on around them.

Various stretches: Stretch hamstring and calf muscles. Dribble again. Stretch calf and achilles tendon. Get a partner to put pressure on the ball with the ball of the foot, with their heel on the ground. Dribble again. Lift inside of foot to groin to stretch the gluteus maximus (butt!)

Then, play 6v1 with six balls (use two grids). Player without a ball has to try and steal one. Players stay within the grid. After one minute or so, the player without the ball will have received a quick exercise.

Then, remove one ball so that it is 5v2 with five balls. At end of a minute, two players will be without a ball and have received an exercise.

Remove one more ball so that it is 4v3 with four balls. At end of a minute, three players will be without a ball and have received an exercise. This helps players learn to dribble while keeping the ball within the frame of their body, and to hold off an opponent.

NOTE: In this period, there has been no official instruction on how to defend the ball!

Functional Training Exercises

One of the most important technical/tactical soccer skills for the older player is the art of defending. A team cannot lose a game if the other team does not score! Defending combines both technical (body position and tackling) as well as tactical applications (knowing when to tackle and which side to force your opponent).

Functional Exercise 1


Coach may want to introduce the block tackle at this point, for timing, rhythm, etc. Coaching points include keeping a low center of balance, with the knee bent. May want to start players with a hand on their partner's shoulder. Develop rhythm — 3, 2, 1, go. Then develop to take a step in.

Functional Exercise 2

1v1 Soccer Golf

In a grid seven yards wide and 15 yards long (bigger for more challenge), play 1v1. Place a one-yard goal on the end line on the defensive end, on the side of the grid away from where the defender begins. The defender starts the duel by playing a pass to the attacking player. The attacking player cannot come into the grid until the ball gets there, while the defender can start to defend as soon as she plays the pass.

Functional Exercise 3 (Center backs)

Defending attacker, back to goal

Exercise begins with attacker receiving ball with their back to goal halfway into a 10x15 grid. Defender starts five yards away and is allowed to close space as ball is moving. Attacking player has to control the ball and try to dribble ball over goal line. Can have two grids going at the same time.

Functional Exercise 4

Longer passing/clearing

In groups of four, have two players next to each other and the others 20 yards away. Object is to play the ball in the air to one of the players in the other group who have to touch the ball once in the air with any part of their body, and their partner has to catch it to score a point! Then, the pair that just received the ball takes their turn to play it back in the same way to their teammates 20 yards away. Continue and play until one team has reached five points.

Functional Exercise 5

"Get out of here!"

Two teams in a line stand on either side of the coach (who is standing on the halfway line with all the balls). Play 1v1 in a 10x15 grid to two-yard goals, with the first player from each side coming out as soon as the coach puts a ball on the field. The coach is boss of the balls! Introduce penalty for encroaching! When a goal is scored or the ball goes out of play, the coach shouts "Get out of here!" and the players have to go to the back of their line. As soon as the coach yells, he can put another ball on the field for the next player from each team to play. The game is continuous until the coach has no balls left.

  1. Let players go through once each without any instruction.
  2. Then introduce the coaching points:
    • Pressure quickly, but then coming under control
    • Do not over commit
    • Curve defensive run
    • Do not have to win ball, just keep between the attacker, ball and goal block shot on goal
    • If defender manages to turn the attacker, get in tight
    • Can award goals if not quick enough pressure on the ball
  3. Then, demonstrate how easy it is for the attacker to turn the defender if too tight. Get distances correct with regard to the speed of the opponent.
  4. Begin with passive defending. Then, let the defender tackle. If they win the ball, go for opponent's goal. Teams keep scores. Play for five minutes or so. Coach the defender in the game.
  5. Once concepts have been determined, can introduce 2v1, and then 2v2. Coach the defensive shape and concept of keeping two players at angle goalside to support. Coach will still find that he/she has to coach the first defender also!
  6. There is no offside! If attackers run goalside of the last defender, award a goal. The supporting defender must have both opponents in front of him at all times.

4v4 Game Idea 1

Play 4v4 to targets in a 20x30-yard grid. Have to score by chipping the ball into a semi-circular end zone for resting teammates to catch.

Then, play 4v4 on field to two small goals, or with both teams also having a goalkeeper. In this stage, it is best to let the game flow and not stop it every time a mistake occurs. A coach can call out what to do next time as the game continues!

4v4 Game Idea 2

Play 4v4 to end lines in a 25x40-yard grid. Have to score by dribbling the ball over the endline.

4v4 Game Idea 3

Play 4v4 in a 25x40-yard grid. Add a five-yard end zone behind each goal line. Team has to score "touchdown" by passing the ball into the end zone for a teammate to control. Can add a fun way to score an extra point!

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