you teach concepts to younger players?
defending to developing soccer players we should keep two things
in mind. There is the “concept of defending” and the “skills of
defending”. We will take a brief look at some of the concepts
While we don’t
want to start teaching 9 year olds about the thirds of the
field, it does help expose them to the theory that we act or
behave differently in these areas. A simple explanation about
the field being three parts is good enough for any age.
third has its own set of rules. We should follow the rules at
Rule 1: We are
not trying to win the ball; we are trying to protect the goal.
get “beaten” because they STAB or reach in trying to win the
ball from an attacker. Our goal should to be a nuisance that
stays in the way of an attacker and never gives them a clear
shot or passage to the goal. Keep space and leave room. This is
known as jockeying. It is fine to be aggressive in their zone,
but in ours we want to be safe.
pass we make is 100%.
We never make a
pass that has ANY chance of being intercepted by the offense in
the defense third. Often you will see a defender pass back to a
keeper. Most of the time this is due to the fact he does not
have a 100% options. Our passes need to be firm and TOTALLY
away from any other player on the team. If no safe pass is
present, clear the ball out into the middle or attacking zone.
Rule 3: Don’t
try and do it yourself.
Have you ever seen a great defender chasing a ball near his
sidelines and he simply kicks the ball out of play? There is a
reason for this. If he is all alone and knows that pressure is
coming from the other team, he has no other SAFE option but to
kick the ball out, stop the play and give his teammates time to
come down and help.
If he were to
stop and turn the ball there is a good chance he will have a
created a 1 v1 and a good chance he will lose. If you feel all
alone, clear the ball or stop the play. Help will arrive
Rule 4: Who is
pressure and who is cover?
When a player
attacks in our zone and we have 2 or more defenders, one player
is the pressure player. That player puts close on pressure and
becomes the nuisance.
The other player(s) stay back and wait for the pressure man to
be beaten or the attacker to pass. Too often both defenders
become pressure, which is an easy way to get beaten and leaves a
straight line to the goal.
Rule 5: The
sidelines are your friends.
come from anywhere on the field except for one place, off the
field. Unless you have a parent that decides to “jump in and
play” you have eliminated an avenue of pressure by using the
sidelines. You can always shield the ball and work it up the
field. Getting caught in the middle of the field, battling it
out is not what we want our defenders to do.
These are five
simple rules that if shown through visual setups on a small
field, will often stick with younger players for the rest of