Defend The Defending Third | Skill / Skill (03-S1)

Phase 6: Defend the Goal

Age Group 11+

Duration 60 minutes

Players 9+

2 Part Session | Duration 50mins



Free Soccer Drills

Skill Practice


Defend The Defending Third | Skill Practice (03-P1)

Organisation / Set Up
In this half pitch practice, we focus on our attacking 4 players against a back 4. Our coach will play a ball into one of the front players, with their challenge to create effective angles to move defenders around. The back 4 must remain compact and look to regain possession to finish in one of two mini goals as shown.

03 P1a


03 P1b


03 P1c

Key Coaching Points
  • Tactical | Compactness to protect space behind defensive line and recognition of when to squeeze or drop as a back line.
  • Technical | Defending in 1 v 1s and Defensive clearances (headers / tackles)
  • Social | Collective defending, limiting spaces in between and communication to perform group actions (press/drop/shuffle)

03 P1d

Progressions & Constraints
  • Implement opportunities for defenders to recover during counter attacks, this may be after they have regained possession and look to score in mini goals.
  • Create opportunities to defend the goal with high balls and crosses around the 6 yard box, encouraging goalkeeper and defenders to protect goal.
Key Coaching Questions
  • When do you press and when do you delay?
  • What is causing the defensive line problems and how can you use the offside line to influence attacking options?


Free Soccer Drills

Skill Practice


Defend The Defending Third | Skill Practice (03-P2)

Set Up
50 x 40 area with 4 goals positioned on the corner of each base line with 2 each end as shown. 2 teams, with at least 4 v 4, no more than 8 v 8, attempting to score in either of the 2 goals in a directional possession practice.


Progression 1 | Wide Channels
  • Attacking team must have a player in each wide channel to score.


Progression 2 | Outside Floaters
Players can bounce off target players on outside, 1 touch finish, defenders drop further.
Progression 3 | Central Area
  • Must get played through central area, encouraging DFs to retract again (DF Decisions)


Key Coaching Points
  • Although this is a defensive practice in the main, we must ensure the attacking quality is at the level it needs to be in order to work the defenders. Therefore, our first Interventions should be based on the standard of passing and movement in possession.
  • Slide quickly and stay with forward runners.
  • Attacking team start to be more forceful and creative - Could develop transition on regaining possession, so that once scored, they have 3 seconds to start play again from anywhere. this encourages ownership and constant speed of play.
  • Play Safe / Exploit player advantage
  • Individual or group challenges could be set, for example (Back 4 + MF 2 must not concede). Be creative with your progressions and tailor them to your players needs.


Player Focus
Defensive Compactness | Sliding Together | Forcing Direction | Decision To Press | Quality in Possession