The following posts have been tagged with "soccer first defender"...

Soccer Zone Defense


There are 2 basic types of soccer defense: a zone soccer defense where defenders stay between the ball & the goal they are defending & are assigned a position relative to their soccer teammates (e.g., right, center, or left); and man-to-man defense where players are assigned to guard specific opponents (this is called a marking soccer defense). Many college & pro soccer teams today use some type of zone defense, but mark attackers who come into their “zone”. I think a soccer zone defense works best for recreational soccer teams because it doesn’t require fast players or great stamina like man-to-man defense does (i.e., it is better suited to slower players who don’t have great stamina). I use a shifting zone defense with “FB’s”, “MF’s” & “F’s” assigned a “relative position”; for example, Right Fullback (RFB), Center FB (CFB), and Left FB (LFB). Two key concepts to teach regardless of which type of defense you use are Soccer First Defender and Soccer Second Defender. Also, you must teach your players to mark attackers who are in scoring range (i.e., “Dangerous Attackers”) regardless of whether you play a zone or man-to-man.


Soccer Support


You want to have “support” on both offense & defense. “Support”
refers to having teammates who are properly positioned near the ball (i.e., within passing range on offense and within 5 – 10 steps of the First Defender on defense):

A.  On Offense, there should always be 2 or more teammates within passing range (7-15 steps, depending on age) who are open for a pass. One of these can be following the ballhandler (a “trailer”). The key concepts are “First Atacker”, “Second Attacker”, and “Third Attacker”. (See “First Attacker”, “Push Up”, “Support Distance & Relative Position”, “Attacking”, “Attacking Tips” in Chapter 1, & Chapter 2, “How To Teach Offense & Defense”).
B.  On Defense there are 3 key concepts:
  1. “First Defender” – The player closest to the ball must challenge the ball & try to slow down the attack or block a shot, and
  • “Second Defenders” – The second closest player must be the Second Defender and back up the First Defender and stay between the ball and the goal. The Second Defender should stay about 5-7 steps behind the First Defender and should become the First Defender if the ballhandler gets by the initial First Defender. (In this case, the initial defender should drop back to help the defender who was backing him up).
  • “Shift & Sag” – As soon as the ball is lost, your team should quickly “transition” from offense to defense; the closest player should become the “First Defender” the next two closest should become the “Second Defenders” & all the rest should “shift & sag”. What this means is to shift so they are generally between the ball & the goal & sag back to create multiple layers of defenders (which is called “Depth”). There are 2 rules that you can use to teach your players how to “shift & sag” on defense:
    • The left & right players (e.g., the LMF & RMF or LFB & RFB) should not go past the center of the field.
  • Don’t go past a teammate unless it is an emergency & never go past two teammates. These rules apply to defense but not offense because more creativity is allowed on offense. (See “Shift & Sag“, “Shape“, “Depth“, “Cover“, “Width In Defense“, “Support Distance & Relative Position“, “Zone Defense“, “Defense” & “Flat Defense“).
  • C.  All players should shift toward the ball whether on offense or defense. Ideally, there should be multiple layers of support on both offense & defense.


    Soccer Small Sided


    Most youth leagues play with less than 11 players per side until U-12 or U-14. This is called playing “Small Sided”. At U-6, there may be as few as 3 per side; at U-8 4 or 5 per side; at U-10 6 to 8 per side, etc. At young ages it is much better to play small sided; the players get many more “touches” on the ball & it is much easier to teach them the important concepts such as “support”, “First Defender”, to “shift & sag”, and to spread out & get open for passes. In small sided games with 5 or less players per side, you shouldn’t worry about “formations” or “positions” but should teach basic concepts, teamwork, passing, dribbling & basic tactics such as “shifting & sagging” & to mark up behind a man when the other team has a throw-in or is near our goal. To quote Bobby Howe, Director of Coaching Education for the U.S. Soccer Federation & author with Tony Waiters of 2 excellent books (see “Recommended References” in Chapter 3 for the titles):

    Fewer players on the field

    Reduces the size of the “swarm;”

    Creates more touches;

    Does not allow players to “hide” or be excluded from the activity;

    Presents realistic but simple soccer challenges;

    Requires players to make simple but realistic soccer decisions.

    Realistic Experience + Fun = Improvement In Play.

    Some coaches incorporate small sided play (e.g., 4 vs 4) into practices. However, this can be difficult to administer and is not a substitute for practicing specific skills.

    (See “Number of Players“, “Formations“, “The Game Is The Best Teacher“, “Small Sided Games & Formations” which is No. 11 in the Section of Chapter 3 titled Basic Information & Tips for Beginning Coaches and the Comments at “Small Sided Scrimmage Without A Goalkeeper” in the Practice GamesTM).


    Soccer Shift & Sag


    A convenient term for describing what you want your soccer players to do on defense. It has 2 meanings:

    First, as attackers move the soccer ball around the field, defenders should be constantly shifting to maintain good defensive coverage and the soccer players farthest from the ball should “sag” back so they are in position to stop an attack on goal (this provides additional “depth” & concentration of defenders between the soccer ball & the goal). This creates “multiple layers” of defenders in a position to stop an attack on goal. For example, if the soccer ball is on the left side & the LF is the First Defender, then the LMF should be a Second Defender, the CF should also be a Second Defender, & the LFB should be the Third Defender. The CF should shift so he is within 5 – 7 steps of the soccer ball & “sag” back a little so if the onball attacker tries to go to the left of the LF the CF is there to stop the penetration. The CMF should also “shift & sag” so he is between the CF & the goal (i.e., 10 – 15 steps behind the CF), & the CFB should do the same behind the CMF. On the right side, the RF should sag behind the CF, but not go past the center of the field (i.e., the imaginary line between the goals), etc. These relationships are shown in the diagram below. If the soccer ball were on the right side, it would be reversed. Note that all defenders don’t try to stay precisely between the soccer ball & the goal (if they did you would have no “width” & your field “coverage” would be poor); however, they are in position to “recover” in time to stop an attack on goal.
    Second, when a team loses the soccer ball, the players nearest the soccer ball should stay & try to be “First or Second Defenders” & slow down the attack. But all others should quickly “sag” back toward their goal (i.e., “Recover”) to create multiple layers of defenders. This doesn’t mean that everyone runs back in front of the goal; if they do it just makes it easy for the attackers to reach your Danger Zone. A rule of thumb is that the Fullbacks should drop back far enough that a long chip pass won’t go over their heads. Also, keep in mind that even when the FB’s have sagged back near their goal, you must leave some MF’s & F’s outside the Penalty Box in a position to win cleared balls & to receive passes so you can counterattack. If all your players are in the Penalty Box you won’t be able to get the ball off your end of the field.
    (See “Defense“, “Depth“, “Support“, “Support Distance & Relative Position” “Formations“, “Zone Defense“, “First Defender“, “Recover“, “Funnel” “Mark” & “Pressure“).


    Soccer Pressure


    There must be pressure on the soccer ball any time it is in scoring range or close enough to your goal that it could be centered (or crossed) to the front of the goal. Over 50% of goals scored occur when there is a lack of pressure on the soccer ball. Pressure slows down the attack & makes it much more difficult to get a clear shot on goal or to deliver a good pass into the center. You should also teach your forwards & MF’s to pressure the soccer ball to try to win it back any time it is near the other soccer team’s goal. For example, they should aggressively double-team the ballhandler to try to win the soccer ball back after a turnover near the other soccer team’s goal. This can be a great scoring opportunity if you can win the ball &, if you accidentally foul, a free kick is too far away from your goal to score. (See “Zone Defense“, “Mark The Ball” & “First Defender“).


    Soccer Mark The Ball


    (aka Spatial Defense or “Zone Defense”). To play the soccer ball & defend space (i.e., Zone Defense) as opposed to marking a man. This is done by creating “multiple layers of defenders” between the soccer ball & the goal (”depth”) and the closest defender to the soccer ball becomes the “First Defender”, the next closest are “Second Defenders” & other defenders “shift & sag” as the soccer ball moves. This is a more accurate term for “defending space” than the term “Zone Defense” because what you are really doing is defending the space between the soccer ball & your goal. (See “Pressure“, “Zone Defense“, “Flat Defense” & “First Defender“).


    Soccer Jockeying


    (aka “Shepherding”, “Steering”, “Channeling” and “Defensive Containment”). A type of one vs. one defense used by the “First Defender” to contain and “steer” the “First Attacker”. See SoccerHelp Premium for a detailed description of how to teach jockeying and defensive footwork.


    Soccer Funnel


    A term used to describe the way in which defenders retreat toward their goal so they become more concentrated as they get closer to the goal. (e.g., “Funnel back toward the goal”). I think “First Defender/Second Defender” & “shift & sag” better describe what you want to happen. (See “First Defender” and “Shift & Sag“).


    Soccer First Defender


    (See “Soccer Support“).