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Collective defensive tactics: Goal defense

Collective defensive tactics: Goal defense

  • Markers 
  • 12 vests (6 of a color, 6 of another)
  • Balls
  • 1 regolatory goal
  • Playing area: 70 x 60 yards
  • Players: 20 (19 + 1 goalkeeper)
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Number of series: 2 series of 9 minutes each (+ 2 minutes of passive inbetween the series)
Summary Secondary Objectives
How to coach the defensive phase, depending on the finalizing types of play: cross, long ball, ground pass
Header, Pass, Long pass, Finishing, Individual defensive tactical principles, Movement, Contraction and expansion of defensive line, Defending a cross, Defense of the aerial ball, Pass to overcome the lines, Cross from the byline, Cross into the box, Body positioning, Transitions

Use a regolatory half court. Place a horizontal line made with markers at the same height of the box limit line (low defense line). Arrange another horizontal line 15/20 yards outside the box (high defense line). Divide the players into 3 groups, using the color vests: a group of 7 defenders (red team), and two groups with 6 attackers each (white and yellow teams). The goal keeper defends the goal and plays with the red defenders. The red team defend the goal with a 4-3 formation. The white team attacks the goal with a 3-3 formation. Yellow players play as flank players and place themselves 2 per lateral side, and 2 nearby halfcourt line. To each of the 6 flank players a progressive number and 2 balls are given.

  • Goal of this drill is to train the defensive phase and, more in general, to train red players about different typologies of ball transmission by opponents, situations they may experience during a match. Defenders must react and defend as it is requested by the game itself (defensive adaptation to game situation, in reference to the ball)
  • The coach starts the drill calling out a number corresponding to a back-pass player: the back-pass player plays the ball to one of the players of the white team. After a goal attempt or a ball regained by the reds, the coach calls out another number and a new play starts. This continues till the 12 balls (2 x player) ready-to-be-played by the back-pass players are over.
  • Yellow players, during game developement, keep on playing as back-pass players for/with the white team
  • The red defenders must try and regain the ball to transmit it to one of the 2 yellow back-pass players standing outside the half court line


Example: the coach calls out the back-pass player number 4

  • After 12 balls played, yellow players switch with white players
  • After the first series, switch 3 red midfielders with 3 white (or yellow) midfielders
  • White attackers do not have ball touch limitations
  • Red defenders have a maximum of 3 ball touches
  • The yellow flank players must pass the ball in 5 seconds and can only touch it 2 times
  • Offside rule is valid
  1. Place a second goal where red players can shoot at when they regain the ball (positive transition).
  2. Limit the ball touches to all players
Coaching Points
  • Take care of individual positioning and body positioning of defenders depending on the ball and the goal
  • Pay attention to the defensive phase: marking, reading the play, putting pressure on opponents, protecting depth
  • Encourage the players to press opponents not to lower themselves beyond the low-defense-line. When the ball is far from the goal or played around midfield line, the defensive line must be ready to rise till the high-defense-line. When opponents are free to play the ball vertically ('open ball'), or a cross from the side, the defensive line must be ready to run fast to check plays in depth and insertions by opponents' strikers (defensive 'Elastico')
  • Pay attention to individual tactics (of your strikers) while they attack the goal, depending on the type of ball transmission played by flank players: cross, long throw, short ball, ground ball, high ball, 'holed up' ball (being able to understand each play by team mates and to get away from their markers)
  • Take care of all transistions phases, especially positive transitions by the defending team: once the ball is regained, players should quickly organize a fast counter attack

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