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U15 - U18

Defensive shape and Press

Area: 75 x 70. 7 v 7 no goal keepers. The coach has all the balls. Teams play a 2-4-1 system of play. Both teams are defending two small goals.

1. Start with ‘free play’.

2. The challenge is for the attacking team to score in either of the two goals.

3. Move the practice on by introducing start position scenarios for attackers. The purpose of this is to pinpoint exactly what you want your team to do when they are defending. Recreate scenarios of the defense giving the ball away.

4. Watch the reaction of the defending team when possession is lost. (out of balance)

5. If the defenders cannot win the ball back immediately they respond as follows:

•The nearest man slows the play down.

•Defenders delay the play.

•Team-mates drop into defensive shape as quickly as possible.

•Defenders stay compact and keeps the ball in front of them.

•Once in good defensive shape, the team now looks for the right moment to press.

•They look for the ‘trigger’ signs to press as a unit.

Area: Same as above. The coach now adds two ‘Lines of confrontation’ for each team. 5 – 10  yards inside the opposition half.

1.Both teams when they lose the ball in the opposition half and they are ‘out of balance’ move behind the ‘line of confrontation’.

2.The forward stays ahead of the line while the midfield four and back two move behind the line.

3.(shown) If a yellow midfield player moves to help their team-mates, the defending midfield player needs to make a decision. Do they stay behind the ‘line of confrontation’ or follow the player they are marking.

4.Communication between all defenders is critical. There will be times when defenders pass a player on to another defender as the attacking team move around the field.

You are looking for:

•Prevent the opposition getting in behind (either from a run or pass)

•Keep compact and communicate

•Defenders should have an understanding of the system and not get pulled out of their shape when when there is no pressure on the ball.

•Players recognize the ‘trigger’ for when to press as a unit.

High press Area – 75 x 70 or full field. 8v8 with GK’s is shown but you can play 11v11. Smaller field for younger players. A breakout line is placed 30 yards from the green teams goal. The coach is focusing on the green team. Green play a 2-4-1 formation (with attacking and defensive centre midfielders)

1. The attack starts with the GK from the yellow team.

2. The aim for the yellow team is to play out from the back and get past the breakout line where they are free to go through on goal to score.

3. The defenders exerts high pressure on the ball to get the attackers heads down and prevent longer passes into space.

4. The green team aims to regain the ball near the opposition goal and quickly attack to score.

Coaching points: Defending team

Look for ‘trigger’ signs to press

When possession is won players switch focus in order to attack at speed.

Communication and team work

Defensive awareness


Finish off your session with a game. Look for quality defending.

Download the practice card

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