Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Why defence is as important as attack

DCI received the following email from my ‘right hand man’ after the match on Saturday. (I’ve changed players’ names for obvious reasons).

“Dave – I keep questioning why we didn’t score more goals today. John has got to pass the ball earlier. Too many times he lost possession at the corner flag. Peter would be better on that side as he only has a right foot. If John went on the left would he have to cut in? Do we use both on that side, one at a time? Could we try Will in left midfield against league leaders Texas Eagles? Do we need a bit of speed at the back? If we don’t get the crosses in against better teams we won’t score at all – or am I being too negative?”

We won the game 3-0 and are second in the league, but the reason for the text was that we had scored our third goal after 20 minutes and then failed to find the net again in the rest of the game. One of the parents commented that he was surprised that we hadn’t “killed the game off in the second-half”.

Fresh from an 8-0 victory in the previous match everyone was hoping for more of the same. But soccer isn’t like that. I will have to convince the parents and my fellow coach that defence is just as important as attack. The truth is I was as pleased we had kept two clean sheets in a row as I was that we’d scored 11 goals in two games.

We are doing a lot of work on defensive positions with supporting play a priority. If a player commits there should always be a covering player blocking the route to goal should they fail to win the ball. In the text, the comment “could we try Will in left midfield?” was because this left-footed player had an outstanding match at left-back.
But what my helper failed to realise was that the reason for the two clean sheets is that the back two are playing really well together and I won’t be changing that to give us more weight in attack.

When you are coaching you must remember you cannot always score lots of goals, and never forget that keeping clean sheets is an excellent testament to your coaching just as much as scoring goals is. So you must use defensive exercises as much as attacking ones, no matter what everyone else is telling you.

Defensive drills and games


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“never forget that keeping clean sheets is an excellent testament to your coaching just as much as scoring goals is.”

Great point! Soccer isn’t like football, where scores can easily jump into the double digits. Sometimes one or two goals and a strong defense is all you need.

Comment by Jodi Murphy

no other person is more fit to stress the importance of defense than a soccer coach.

People definitely tend to focus on making a goal most of the time but miss the point of having a clean sheet. Sure you need to make a goal to win, but defending helps just as much. Nice blog!

Comment by Hanna

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