Drills to Improve Soccer Defending Skills

Good defending is the cornerstone of every team that wins the majority of its games. It certainly will take pressure off the attack having to score and it also tends to make it less difficult to win if a team isn’t necessarily scoring goals only to catch up with the opponent. It is also the coach’s role to build a certain kind of pride in his players to enjoy shutting out the other team.

Therefore all players on the team should learn how to defend well including midfielders and forwards and not just defenders exclusively. Players that defend well, with a disciplined, protection first mentality, can contribute a lot to a team and may even realize that they’re playing more effectively than in the past because you dedicated time and effort to become great at this soccer skill.

The competitive U6, U7, U8, U9, U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U15, U16, U17 & adult soccer defending drills and progressive soccer games in this section will help you coach your players the defending principles (pressure, cover and balance) and improve the soccer skill needed in defensive situations as a team and individual.

Key Coaching Points for Defending:

We’ve polled coaches and here are the key coaching points they recommend when it comes to defending:

  • first defender must try to deny forward passes and delay the attack by marking the first attacker
  • first defender must always have a supporting second defender who covers the space behind him
  • 1st and 2nd defender should squeeze the attack into the most crowded part of defense or towards touchline
  • covering defenders must pressure attacker on the ball by cutting off passing lanes
  • when the ball is on the flank, the outside defender on the opposite side must “tuck in” to cover the space behind the closest inside defender (compactness – concentration)
  • stay ball-side (to defend passes) and goal-side (to deny shots) as much as possible – outside defenders play closer to the center of the field and closer to the ball than their direct opponents
  • mark tighter the closer you get to your own goal
  • recover quickly to keep shape and maintain defensive balance on the field
  • support and communicate when necessary
  • delay attack quickly by reducing opponent’s space when team first loses possession of ball to allow defense to recover
  • most of the defending team shifts into the space in front of opponent’s point of attack as ball approaches goal (limiting space for shots on goal) and direct ball away from goal

Drills By Age: U6-U8,  U9-U12,  U13-U16,  U17-Adult