Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Defenders hold their line and move up after a defensive header

By David Clarke
DavidClarkeI wrote an article in Soccer Coach Weekly last year about defenders holding their line once the first attacking ball had been headed away. It’s a bit like holding lines on a battlefield. If the defenders don’t all step up following the ball, or they go at different speeds the defensive line is not as effective.

Here’s the best way to set up a practise session to get defenders to keep the line together and move as one thereby denying space to the attacking team. At 11-a-side it also means you can experiment with offsides.

How to play it
Set this up in half of the pitch – it’s a good exercise for all ages, and for 7-a-side as well as 11-a-side – use only three defenders
for 7-a-side games. Have two wide players to cross in balls and you stand in the middle to give a variety on the angle the ball will come in. All balls are aimed at the central defenders.

Defenders step up behind header
Tell the two wide defenders to push in as soon as the central defender moves forward to attack the ball so that the amount of space for the attacking team is shut down – look for co-ordination
of movement between the back four to cover the space behind the player.

david clarke diagram
© Soccer Coach Weekly

 Soccer Skills and Drills


3 Comments so far
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[…] Original post by soccercoachblog […]

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Defenders when stepping up to compress, should move towards the ball. This effects the centralizing of the wing backs, plus it puts the defenders in a better ball line position to handle through balls.

Comment by Gary Rue

While it is important to get defenders to move up together, we have to make sure that there is adequate communication from the FBs the R if the ball is played from the left or left of center.
This can be tricky so it will take some time to be effective

Comment by Evan McKenzie

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