Grassroots Coaching

Football Coaching – 8 v 8 small sided games

Football coaching a team in a small sided game, with the coaching topic of defend as a team.

We try to get the football coaches to understand the basic principle of defending. Once possession is lost, the team look to get behind the ball, get a defensive shape, which is narrow and compact and allows players to adopt positions in relation to where the ball is.

Defending in team play starts from the front. So when the ball was in possession of the opposition defence, we worked with our two strikers, to get them to understand how to react quickly when the ball was lost, to recover behind the ball and to work and defend as a pair. They needed to recognise if the player on the ball had good possession, then there was no point in trying to pressure the ball as they would easily be passed by. Their roles were to try and stop the ball behind passed forward into key attacking areas and to try and force play across the pitch and to keep the ball in front of them. They had to work as a pair communicate and react together as the ball was passed across them.

Once the strikers understood this initial role, we moved onto work with the midfield. They had to communicate and encourage the strikers, move as the strikers moved and ensure that if the ball was played into the opposition midfield players, they were in a position to apply good pressure and get tight, with the second midfield player providing cover.  They also needed to understand that they also had to adopt positions that made it difficult for the ball to be passed into the opposition’s strikers and to track any runs from the opposition midfield players.

The forwards now had to link with the midfield, so that if any pass went past the forwards, they turned, recovered and applied pressure from the front.

The third unit we coached was the defending unit and the GK. The first thing we looked at was their positions as a unit and individuals in relation to where the ball was and how they reacted and moved as the ball moved. We got them to move and communicate together as a unit and ensure that there were no big gaps between them and that they were in a position goal side of the strikers so that if any ball was passed over the top or past them, they put themselves in a position to win any race and that they kept their shape and discipline. The GK also played a big part of this defensive unit, communicating and positioning themselves in relation to their defenders and the ball.

Any time the ball was played forward we made sure that one of the defenders applied pressure on the ball and the other two dropped and provided cover

This was then linked to the midfield, so that whenever the ball was played forward towards the opposition forwards, there was pressure and cover from the defenders and recovery runs from the midfield and forwards, to be first to any knockdowns

The game was then allowed to flow and we talked to the coaches about the need to observe the play and watch the whole team to see if they were applying and working towards what they had been coached. As the game progressed, we got the team to understand the need to compact play as the ball was played forwards or sideways.


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