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Defending Principles of Play

Session Objective(s)
  • To develop understanding of the Defending Principles of Play.
  • To develop an understanding of Delay, Depth, Concentration (Compaction), Balance, Discipline/Patience in the defending phase.

  1. Delay - The ability to prevent the ball from being played forward quickly. A pressuring player needs to reduce the time and space of the attacker to prevent the ball being played forward. This is especially important when outnumbered to allow the team to re-shape to a loss in possession appropriately.
  2. Depth - Reduce the space behind the pressuring player. Provide support in defence. These players do not provide pressure on the ball but instead support the challenging player. Their relative position to the pressuring player is dependent on the situation and part of the field they are supporting the player in. Defensive support is generally much tighter than attacking support. An easy concept to coach with defending soccer drills.
  3. Concentration/Compactness - The movement of players to concentrate into an area of the field vulnerable to scoring opportunities. Most teams generally drop on loss of possession and recover towards their own goal. Players should make runs back towards their own goal and goal side of the ball if desired.
  4. Balance - In order to cancel the threat of mobility provided by the offense, balance is required by the defending team to retain defensive shape. Balancing is an extension of delay and support. Balancing players provide additional support. Be prepared to leave weak side attacking players unmarked to balance the strong side of the field.
  5. Discipline/Patience - Defending players need to be patient and assess the risk involved in challenging for the ball. A well structured defending line can quickly become disorganized with one rash challenge. Players need to exercise control and restraint and re-adjust their shape to changing scenarios. Players also need to be alert to their surroundings at all times (switched on!).
  6. Predictability - Defensive movements should encourage/force the attacking team to play into certain areas of the field. Channeling play into particular well defended areas or less important areas of the field makes play predictable and increase our chances of regaining possession or decreases goal scoring threats.

Diagram 1 - Delay

Diagram 2 - Depth (Support)

Diagram 3 - Concentration/Compactness

Diagram 4 - Balance

Diagram 5 - Discipline/patience