The following posts have been tagged with "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.
(aka Through Pass). A soccer pass between defenders into the open space between the fullbacks & the soccer goalkeeper with the idea that a forward will beat the defenders to the soccer ball. There are 2 types: a “Straight Through Ball” & a “Diagonal Through Ball”). (See “Pass To Space”, “Leading Pass” & “Pass To Yourself”). This is a very important soccer concept to teach & one that I think should be introduced by U-8 & definitely by U-10. By U-12 (& sometimes by U-10) defenders will be “pushing up” & it will become very difficult for attackers to dribble past the “Last Defender”. “Through Balls”, “Passing to Yourself”, “Switching The Play” & “Wall Passes” become the keys to a successful offense. If the other team is having success with through balls, it may be because your soccer defense if “flat” & doesn’t have “depth”. (See “Depth“, “Zone Defense“, “Push Up“, “Last Defender“, “Leading Pass“, “Give & Go“, “Pass To Space“, “Diagonal Through Ball“, “Styles of Play” & “Stretch The Field“).
(abb. “SW”). A fast & tough player who usually plays just behind the fullbacks, although he is allowed to roam. His job is to cover the space between the fullbacks & the goalkeeper & to stop “breakaways” & “sweep up” the ball or kick long “through balls” out of bounds so the defense has time to recover. Using a sweeper increases your “depth” & field coverage and therefore allows your fullbacks to push up to support your attack. A Sweeper is like a free safety in American football. A good sweeper must be fast & willing to make contact to steal the ball. A Sweeper can be like a coach on the field and can help direct adjustments, since he is usually the deepest field player and in a good position to view the game. The trend with pro teams is to not use a Sweeper but instead to use a “flatback four”, which is 4 Fullbacks playing a zone defense and using a lot of “offside traps”. A Sweeper was originally used to back up man-to-man defenses. However, using a Sweeper can also be used with a “Zone Defense” (i.e., “Spatial Defense”). A great Sweeper who has speed and great coverage skills can allow your Fullbacks to push up to support your attack, even if they aren’t fast, because he will slow down the attack and give your Fullbacks time to recover. However, if you don’t have a great Sweeper, a better alternative for most recreational teams is to use a 3-2-2-3 formation where the FB’s stay deep, as described in “Formations”. (See “Push Up“, “Formations“, “Through Ball“, “Breakaway“, “Second Sweeper“, “Support“, “Cover“, “Defending Deep” & “Zone Defense“).
On offense, you want to “spread the field” & to add “width”. This means the distance between players (especially F’s & MF’s) will be greater than when they are on defense. The players still “support” each other, but on offense, players will be more “square” than when on defense. For example, if your LF has the ball & is attacking, your CF may be even with him or in front of him & a long pass away. Whereas, on defense, if your LF is the First Defender, your CF will probably sag back & move within 5-7 steps so he can provide defensive “support” (meaning he is helping contain the attacker & is a Second Defender because if the ballhandler moves his way he must become the First Defender) & “cover” (meaning that he is covering space so there isn’t a hole for the attacker’s to easily penetrate; in other words, if he wasn’t covering that space the attackers would go through it to penetrate the defense). (See “Support“, “Cover“, “Depth“, “Zone Defense“, “Sag” & “Creating Space“).
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:
- “First Defender” – The player closest to the ball must challenge the ball & try to slow down the attack or block a shot, and
- The left & right players (e.g., the LMF & RMF or LFB & RFB) should not go past the center of the field.
- 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.
On offense, the two primary styles of play are a “direct attack” (which tries to quickly move the ball into scoring range, often using long passes, “through balls”, or long air balls) and an “indirect attack” (also called a “Possession” style, which is slower and uses many short passes, often sideways or backwards, while looking for a weakness in the defense.) On defense, the two primary styles of play are a “zone defense” and a “marking defense” (i.e., a man-to-man defense). There are several different terms that describe other styles of play. For example, “passing to feet” vs. “passing to space” and “onball attacking” vs. “off-the-ball attacking”. With most formations you can use different styles of play.
When comparing styles of play, you can look to other sports for analogies. In American football, for example, the dominant style of play used to be the running game, but today more teams emphasize the pass than the run. The best teams recognize that a balanced attack that uses both the run and the pass is best. In American football, if a team only runs, the defense will crowd the offense to stop the run. In soccer, if a team only attacks with short passes, the opposing defenders will push up to the halfway line or farther. The threat of through balls and long balls “stretches the defense” and is what forces defenders to stay honest. Another analogy to American football is that when you have the ball near your goal you definitely do not want to turn the ball over. In American football, even the best teams will protect the ball and punt. For this reason, it is best for most rec soccer teams to clear the ball away from their goal if there is any pressure, and hope they can win the cleared balls at least 50% of the time. (Although if there isn’t pressure or you have skilled FB’s you can “build play from the back”).
If you watch a lot of professional soccer from different countries you will see that most good teams from around the world control the ball and build play in the midfield, but also incorporate through balls and long balls into their attack (i.e., they mix the indirect and direct styles of play). In fact, depending upon the league, between 15% and 30% of the goals scored are a result of through balls or long air balls.
The style of attack you teach your team should depend on the ability of your players, the amount of time you can practice, and your coaching ability. The style of attack that will work best also depends on the type of defense the other team plays (e.g., whether they are “pushed up” or “defending deep”) and whether your Forwards are faster than the other teams FB’s. For example, if the opposing FB’s push up and your Forwards are faster, you should try through balls and quick counterattacks. A select team that practices 4 hours per week can play a better short passing game than a typical rec team. In any case, you will want to teach the concepts of “First Attacker”, “Second Attacker”, and “Third Attacker”.
As for a defensive style of play, a “zone defense” and “First Defender/Second Defender” works best for most rec teams. This is because many rec FB’s don’t have the speed or stamina to play a man-to-man style of defense. How to teach a zone defense is explained at “Zone Defense” and at “Support”. (See “Attacking“, “Attacking Plan“, “Boom Ball“, “Counterattack“, “Creating Space“, “Direct Attack“, “Possession Style“, “Spread the Field“, “Stretched Defense“, “Through Ball“, “Long-Ball Game“, “Over the Top“, “Zone Defense“, “Support“, “First Attacker“, “Formations“, and the section titled “Scoring More Goals”).
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.
(See “Defense“, “Depth“, “Support“, “Support Distance & Relative Position” “Formations“, “Zone Defense“, “First Defender“, “Recover“, “Funnel” “Mark” & “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“).
See “Forwards” (F), “Fullbacks” (FB), “Midfielders” (MF), “Goalkeeper” (GK), and “Stopper” (S) & “Sweeper” (SW). LF is Left F, CF is Center F, RF is Right F, etc. In designating soccer positions, as you face the other team’s goal, Right (e.g., RMF) is to your right. (See “Formations“, “Small Sided“, “Number of Players” & “Zone Defense“).