Coaching the Coaches: Rehan Mirza on more defensive drills

The following practices have been designed by the English Football Association. They are great to use for a variety of age groups. For sure, they can be adjusted to meet the needs for specific age groups.

1. ‘Handball’ – 9 v 9 (warm-up activity)

• Players in pairs. The players – each pair man-to-man mark their partner.

• No running with the ball.

• No tackling, interceptions only.

• If the ball goes to ground, possession changes.

• Pass the ball using hands.

• A team scores by passing the ball to one of its players in the end zone (2 yards wide).

• A player cannot stand in the end zone.

• Work on (a) marking, (b) tracking, (c) concentration when possession changes hands.

2. 1 v 1 & 2 v 2

1 v 1

• Player chips ball diagonally to attacker.

• Defender closes down immediately.

• Either player can score in the goal he is attacking.

• Work on individual defending techniques

– 1 v 1 .

2 v 2

• On coach’s command, waiting attacker and defender join in to make 2 v 2.

• Work on aspects of Practice 1 and

(a) covering distance and angles

(b) communication.

3. 3 v 3

• The coach can kick the ball to either team.

He varies his service to increase/decrease the time it takes the ball to reach the controlling player.

• The controlling player must have two touches before he can release the ball.

• Thereafter, free play.

• As soon as the coach delivers the ball, defenders start defending.

• To score, a team must get a player into the end zone with his foot on the ball by either a dribble, a run with the ball or a pass.

• Work on:

(a) all previous aspects;

(b) stopping people turning, where appropriate;

(c) showing the player in possession wide wherever possible and appropriate.

4. 4 Goals – 9 v9

• Play one touch, two touches or free, as appropriate.

• Play man-to-man marking or free, as appropriate.

• No players are allowed in marked zones around goals: No goalkeepers.

• To score: (a) one team scores into the two goals joined together; (b) the other team

scores in two goals placed wide (change round at half-time).

• Work on:

(a) all previous aspects;

(b) individual team strategies:

i) one team showing ball inside

ii) one team showing ball wide.

5. Pressing in opponents’ half – 9 v 9

• Where practical, arrange teams in flexible 3 – 4 – 2 formation.

• Goalkeepers must stay in the ‘D’ at the edge of the penalty area.

• Goalkeeper can only distribute the ball into his defending half.

• Offsides apply only behind dotted lines.

• Score by passing the ball from anywhere on the pitch into the goalkeeper’s hands.

• When the goalkeeper catches the ball, the game is restarted immediately by him

passing the ball in the defending half to the other team.

• Work on:

(a) all the previous aspects, especially concentration when attackers score.

They must defend immediately as the goalkeeper can now distribute the ball as quickly as he wants to opponents.

(b) Pressurising in opponent’s half.

It is vital that players defend as a unit and keep to the relevant outcomes (get low, light on feet, communication etc). As I have constantly said, don’t be afraid to stop the session and make comment.

Rehan Mirza is a UEFA B License coach at Notts County FC’s Centre of Excellence in Nottingham, England.