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Soccer Drills - 5 Defensive Drills

Updated on April 5, 2011

Having a good defense in soccer is critical to your team’s success. When I say that your team has to know how to defend well, it doesn’t mean you have to park the bus in front of your goal, just that you need know how to stop the opposing team having shots at your goal. In soccer obviously the team that scores the most goals wins the match and with goals being so hard to come by in a game just one in the bank can win you the match but only if you block out your opponents.

Defending is one of the most important skills that any soccer players must excel in and is a vital skill that wins matches and all players must be good at it. Its pointless having a team that can score 5 goals if they let in 6. When the opposition attacks your players must not only be in a position to quickly avert the danger but also be able to get back into an attacking position as soon as the ball has been won back.

Group Defending or Defending as a Team

Obviously being able to defend as a team and to be able to rely on your fellow players is crucial to a good defensive team. Knowing where your other players are and being able to rely on them to block off any passes is critical to winning back the ball and thwarting any attack.


Mark out a grid with cones to form the playing area. Split you players into 2 uneven teams, one of attackers and one of defenders with the attackers having one or two extra players. Have one ball for this drill


The Attacking team should try to keep the ball whilst at the same time running into space and steering clear of the Defenders, as there are fewer Defenders on the pitch there should be space. The Defenders should try their best to mark as many of the Attackers as possible whilst at the same time intercepting passes.

Coaching Points

  • You need to keep helping the defenders by letting them know how to stop the moves of the attackers.
  • Keep instructing the attackers on how to find space and dodge the defenders.
  • Keep changing the players for each team. Ensure that every player should get equal number of chances to act as an attacker or a defender.


  • Increase the number of attackers.
  • Limit the number of touches.

Recommended DVDs from Amazon about Defensive drills

Success in Soccer: Modern Defending, Part 1 (Individual Tactics)
Success in Soccer: Modern Defending, Part 1 (Individual Tactics)

This DVD includes 1 v. 1 defence, the role of individual tactics in the playing system and 1 v. 2 defence. Whether your formation includes a sweeper, a back three or a back four, 1 v. 1 play is the foundation for all forms of defending. That's why individual defensive training is the first step toward ball-oriented defense.


Recommended Books from Amazon about Defensive Drills

Soccer Skills - Defending: A Complete Guide to Tactics and Training (Soccer Skills)
Soccer Skills - Defending: A Complete Guide to Tactics and Training (Soccer Skills)

A great guide to drills and exercises to train players how to defend well as well as giving tactics that can be used in the match.


Man in the Middle


Mark out a grid with cones to form the playing area. Split you players into a Group of 5 attackers in a circle and a Group of 2 defenders situated in the middle of the circle.


The Attackers must try and keep the ball away from the two pressuring defenders, who must stay inside the circle. If an attacker gives up the ball or kicks it out of circle he becomes a defender. The defender who caused him to lose possession takes his role as an Attacker.

Coaching Points

  • When a pass is made, the defenders need to adjust to prevent a through ball. whereas the attackers have to give support.
  • The Attackers must communicate in order to offer an option


  • For increased difficulty get the attackers to try to play the ball between the defenders.

Central Defence

A team that can defend cooperatively will defend much better and tire less during the game. This drill works on the teams cooperation.

Mark out a grid with cones to form the playing area. Split you players into 2 even group of 5 attackers and 5 defenders. Each of the Attackers should have a ball.


The Attackers are arranged in the area and their main task is to keep the ball away from the Defenders. The Defenders are also inside the area and are tasked with trying to obtain a ball. If the attacker loses the ball he should become a defender and the defender who got the ball takes over as an Attacker.

Coaching Points

  • Get your Defenders to work as a team and maybe target an Attacker or block his route.
  • Learn to jockey the Attacker in the direction you want to take him.


  • Try adding extra Defenders

Jockeying an Opponent

When the defender is the last man if he jumps into a tackle and doesn't win it the attacker is through on goal. Therefore you must coach your players on how to hold up an opponent until help arrives and how to steer him away from the danger zone.


This is best done one on one. The Attacker has the ball.

Coaching Points

  • The Defender should adopt an almost side-on position, with shoulders opened out slightly so they provide a barrier to their opponent. This keeps the Attacker in front of the Defender so he can see him. The Defender should keep his knees slightly bent, with his weight on the front foot, this makes it easier to change direction as they move backwards.
  • The Defender must stay goal-side and also in front of the Attacker. They do this by turning off their back foot as they move backwards.
  • The Defender should always stay within an arm’s length of the Attacker so as to increase the pressure on them. The Defender should have his arms slightly out to create more of a natural barrier.

Defensive technique close to goal

There are lots of ways to defend your goal but one is for the Defender to get to the ball before it bounces. Once the ball bounces, the defenders have lost momentum and the attackers can follow the ball taking advantage of any weak clearances.

The drill is similar in nature to Volleyball but using the parts of the body that you use in Soccer and it also gets across a lot of what the defender must do to make it easier for his goalkeeper and team-mates to clear the ball. This works on heading and volleying techniques, as well as good team work and make sure your players are aware of what is going on around them.


Mark out an area with 3 boxes of 10 metres, one area of which will become the central zone. Split your players into teams of 6 or 7 players. The Attacking team has their seven players in their zone whereas the Defending team have 4 players in their zone and 3 players in the Central Zone.


The team with the ball must make at least three passes in the air, head, foot, chest or knee before playing the ball over the cental zone and landing it on the floor of their opponent’s area. This wins them a point. As soon as possesion changes the 3 players in the central zone must return to their zone to replaced by 3 players from the other team.

Coaching Points

  • Get the team with the ball to communicate where they are going to pass the ball.
  • Concentrate on measured and easy passing of the ball.


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