Opponents in Possession

You can't attack until you have the ball

Basic Defending in Youth Soccer

"Defending" provides many good examples of how technique and tactics are related. Often, defending is taught as isolated mechanical skills using a dead ball and a semi-passive attacker, the old front block tackle drill. In reality it is more about being at the right place, at the right time and waiting, takes you to YouTube, for the right moment, takes you to YouTube. Good defenders have good TIC. Here are a number of links and video’s on the subject that should get you going starting with US Youth Soccer and some basic advice.

 Types of marking.

  1. Man to man. Each player has an opponent that they are responsible for when the other team has possession. The players may change with each possession but the idea, "Get a man" is the defensive mantra. The game is reduced to a series of 1v1 duels with each player having to solve the problems that their immediate opponent gives them. The upside is this helps the children learn how to become self reliant. The downside is that the game can degenerate into physical confrontation and battles. Also, in man to man the attacking team dictates where the defenders go. If they are a mess then the defense will be a mess.
  2. Zonal play. Each player has a specific area or zone, takes you to AOL online, to cover. This is a common starting point for youth coaches when teaching "Positions." The upside of *zonal play is that it appears to be simple. Designations of right, left, center, up and back work well on paper. There are three downsides to zonal play. First, youth players are such a mix that the tactical relationship doesn’t move from paper to the field very well. Coaches then tend to over coach the "Right way to do it" and micromanage the game. Second, it breeds passive defenders. The players with the primary defensive task learn to sit back and wait for the game, i.e. the ball, to come to them. Finally, there is a huge emphasis on defenders communication. When players move from zone to zone or when more then one attacker is in a zone the defenders have to talk. Information has to be passed quickly, a tall task for young players.

Players need to learn how to do both man to man and zonal marking. One is not better then the other, both are necessary. Small sided games up to 7v7 favor man to man but can be used to teach zonal play.

Before the details. Before you begin teaching mechanics, offer defendings basic set of tasks. But before you correct what they’re doing wrong find something they’re doing right.

  1. Get to the ball first. If the ball is in flight get to it before your opponent.#
  2. If you can’t intercept the pass watch your opponent while they control the ball. Look for a mistake, pounce on it.
  3. If there’s no mistake just get close to them and be patient.
  4. If you can’t win the ball keep the opponent from passing or running it forward. Get them to go back or wide.
  5. If outnumbered, retreat until help arrives. You may link up with the goalkeeper or someone may get the time to drop back. Trade space for time.

The Second Defender. - US Youth Soccer, the follow up to the above video. Takes you to YouTube.
Closing Down. - Anson Dorrance. Takes you to YouTube.
Basic 1v1 Defending. - Playing to targets. Takes you to YouTube.
Individual Defending. - an article by NSCAA Director of Coaching Education Jeff Tipping.
Why Goals are Scored. - Basic and essential information from Tactics and Teamwork.
Pressurizing. - Basic and essential information from Tactics and Teamwork.
Key Factors in Defensive Play. - Basic and essential information from Tactics and Teamwork.
Introducing 1-2-3 Defending. - Basic defensive ideas - footy4kids.
Defensive stance. - Basic body shape - footy4kids.
#Tactical Dilemmas: Facing a playmaker - UEFA.com Training Ground video.
*Tactical Dilemmas: Dealing with a pacy striker - UEFA.com Training Ground video.
On An Island - Surviving the One-v-One Battle - What goes through a defender’s mind during the moment when it becomes mano-y-mano? US Soccer.