OYSA Goal Lines

DEFENDING (Pressure, Cover, Balance) U12-U14

OBJECTIVE: To teach defensive roles of the players who pressure (first), cover (second) and balance (third) in relation to the player with the ball and other attackers around and off the ball. Approach, angle, timing, steering of first defender are addressed as well as how the second defender(s) align themselves in a covering position determined by the pressuring first defender. Lastly, we will ensure balance and proper positioning is provided by the third defender(s).

Activity #1 — 3v3 to lines (20 minutes)
Create multiple fields that are 30x20 yards with four cones outlining the field (enough so all players are playing). Break all of the players in to teams of three. If odd number, use a rotating neutral player on one field. Each team will defend the end line behind them. Players have to dribble across the end line to score.

Coaching Points (First Defender):

  • Angle of approach — Direct the player one way on the field, take away option of advancing forward (make predictable)
  • Should begin to notice where their "help" is behind them in order to know which direction to force them
  • Speed of approach — Approach fast, arrive slow (how adept and fast is opponent?)
  • Body Shape knees bent, on the balls of their feet, keep feet moving
  • Front-foot tackle vs. back-foot tackle if the ball gets away from first attacker (timing)

Coaching Points (Second Defender):

  • Position themselves "off" the first defender in a position to cut off penetrating passing, dribbling and shooting options for the first attacker (30 to 45 degrees) be aware!
  • Can compress the space between them if the first defender has "tight" pressure on the first attacker
  • Cannot compress the space as tightly if the first defender does not have "tight" pressure on the first attacker
  • Can track players immediately off the ball
  • It is important to note that there can be more than one covering second defender

Coaching Points (Third defender):

  • Track attackers making runs further away from the ball
  • Provide balance away from the ball, so that a weak side pass will not become a huge advantage to the offensive team
  • Tighten up the space in the center of the field to cut off passing, dribbling, shooting lanes for attackers
  • Can compress the space if there is tight pressure and cover around the ball

Activity #2 - 4 v 4 (-1) + Goalkeepers (20 minutes)
Two teams play 4v4 to two goals on each end line and have a goalkeeper in each goal. The attacking team plays with four players, but the defending team must drop one player back behind their own endline while under attack. Therefore, the game is four attackers versus three defenders and a goalkeeper. This prevents the defending team from playing man-to-man and forces them to solve the problem with zonal play and try to make it predictable for their teammates. When the defense wins the ball, they must first play the ball back to their teammate on the end line while the other team removes a player from the field. The coach should see how the game begins and then add an offside line for realism and to help the defenders, zonally.

Coaching Points:

  • Reinforce the coaching points listed in Exercise #1

Activity #3 - 6v6 to two big goals (20 minutes)
On a field 40 yards wide by 60 yards long, with a goal at each end, create two teams of 6 (5 players and a GK). Play a regular game highlighting pressure, cover and balance. Version 2: If the players are scoring quickly, adjust so teams can only score if all of their team are in the attacking half of their field. This will allow the defending team time to get more organized and adjustments of the first, second and third defenders. Coaches can introduce offside line from the beginning.

Coaching Points:

  • Reinforce the coaching points listed above for the pressuring, covering and balancing defenders

Activity #4 - 8v8 Game (25 minutes)
Depending upon numbers, space will change and numbers will change. Ideally, finish with the number you normally play with in games. If an odd number, play game with a neutral player so no one is left out. Play a regular game with goalkeepers on an appropriate-sized field.

Coaching Points:

  • Reinforce the coaching points listed above for the pressuring, covering and balancing defenders
  • Reinforce positive decision-making opportunities (recognizing when and how to pressure the ball, communication of first, second and third defenders, etc.).

Activity #5 - Cool-down (10 minutes)
Juggling in twos and threes, using all body parts. Some dynamic loosening up, shaking out, then can pair players up to help stretch the major muscle groups (get ideas from certified trainer).

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