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U11 - U14

The role of the defensive midfield player

Download the practice card

Technical warm up Set-up a large square 25 x 25 area. Teams are in 3’s each with different colored vests. One ball per team. Two defenders are placed inside the square.

1.The outside player passes to their team mate who then transfers the ball to the other team mate. The ball is then passed back and forth using the middle player.

2.The two defenders attempt to block the passes.

3. Switch the middle players.


Add another defender to the middle area

Coaching points:

Move away from blocking defenders

Passing looks realistic – Move the ball quickly


Accuracy, weight and timing of the pass.

Game related practice - Area – 30 x 30 (three zones) Middle zone is 30 x 20 and two end zones are 5 x 30. 3 v 3 is played in the middle zone with a holding midfielder on the end line of the 5 x 30 zone. The coach has the balls.

1.The 3 players attempt to get the ball to the opposite end zone.

2.The holding midfielders when defending or attacking give verbal instructions to their three team mates.

When defending – The holding midfielder communicates to team mates and can also step to the end line to stop a goal being scored.

When attacking – The holding midfield player can be used when keeping possession of the ball


Add two holding midfielders.

Coaching points:

Verbal support could be:

“Man on” “Get tight” “Show inside” “Win the ball” “Get goal side” “Support” “Score”

Area – 40 x 70 playing area with two teams. Play 6 v 6. 3 v 3 in each attacking zone. The holding midfield players in a 10 x 40 central zone. The group of 3 v 3 stay in their own half.

Holding midfielders role

1. (as shown) The red defenders attempt to get the ball to the red attackers.

2. The grey attackers and the holding midfield play try to stop this.

3. If the holding midfielder blocks the pass, they start the attack again. If the grey attackers win the ball they can use the holding midfield player to keep possession.

4. If the ball is switched to the red attackers then the holding midfielder helps the reds in possession and attempts to stop the grey defenders getting the ball to the grey attackers.

You could add two holding midfielders and a defender to the middle zone.


Coaching points:

Holding midfielders positioning and communication

  • Decision making
  • Team work
  • The joy of working together
  • Feeling of success and failure 
  • Communication
  • Learning the game
Psychological / Social
  • Competitive
  • The exercises make players work hard
  • Short bursts of energy
  • Quick movenet off the ball
  • Keeping possession is hard work
  • Passing - Weight, Accuracy and Timing
  • Ball control. Which part of the body?
  • Body shape when receiving the ball and when passing
  • We have the ball oppostion cannot score
  • Field awareness
  • Decision making
  • Pass to space or to feet
  • The understanding of movement
  • Keep probing for openings
  • The importance of the role
  • Team shape
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