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Man Marking vs Zonal Marking

Updated on October 24, 2012

Which is better for defending a Set-Piece

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The debate rages on, at set pieces in particular, is it better to defend using Zonal marking or Man to man marking? Vote now to express your opinion...

Below is a brief summary of what each is, incase anybody is unaware.

Zonal Marking

In Zonal marking, players take responsibility for a certain area and radius of the pitch, this helps them to maintain their natural structure and prevent it getting disrupted by opposition players with tricky off the ball movement. Zonal marking often allows the opposition players to take a run up without much obstruction, therefore giving them the benefit of momentum, its important that the defenders take some stride towards the ball to combat this, some good teams do operate zonal marking and there is still plenty of support for it, however it is exposed whenever oppositional defensive players push up and run into the box, as nobody is specified to pick them up and certain zones can be prone to being over powered.

Man to Man Marking

The principle of Man to Man Marking, also refered to as 'Man Marking', is that each player picks up an opposition player each, the responsability is then theirs to ensure that the man which they are marking doesn't get to the ball, therefore should a player go on to score, it is possible to establish what went wrong and why the opposition scored, by placing blame upon the player who failed to track a run or beat their man to the ball. This system encourages all players to take responsability and ensures that if operated properly, no opposition player goes unchallenged, Attacking players are much more likely to take up their share of defensive duties and track the oppositions defensive player who have pushed up, in a man to man system, wheres in a zonal system, they may be tempted to see it as not their responsability, considering it does not occur in their zone.


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    • CCahill profile image

      CCahill 5 years ago from England

      True Thomas, if Refs truelly did have a zero tolerance policy on shirt pulling, then advantage would certainly be to the attackers and theyd be a little harder to keep tabs on, on a one to one man mark basis

    • profile image

      Richard-Murray 5 years ago

      Functionally the key is to do a hybrid, but to also comprehend your situation.

      FC Barca will never be good at defending corners, because their average player is too short. Whether Zonal or Man Marking they will always be attacked.

      If your club has short players you can't give too many corner's.

      Also, the best teams that handle corners tend to be teams that allow more corners or have more defensively minded players, ala Stoke, Chelsea of yore

    • Thomas Swan profile image

      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Informative hub. I think a zonal system would work if the referees properly punished fouls in the box. There is a lot of hauling about and shirt tugging that goes on during set pieces and this is much more frequent for man-marking. If the referees punished that properly we would see more zonal marking.