Screening Defenders

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Inspired by a recent training camp of the United States Paralympic National Team and head coach Stuart Sharp. Here is a defending session that primarily focuses on cutting off passing lanes, denying penetrating passes and playing through lines quickly. Tweak it to fit the personnel and framework of your team!

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1.

Setup:

4V2 directional rondo with a screening defender. 10X10 yard grids, 12-18 field players, 2-3 identical set ups as shown. A coach at each end with plenty of balls dictating the pace of the activity and the point of entry.

Instructions:

The objective of the team in possession is to connect a minimum of three passes and then play a penetrating ball to their teammate and target in a ready position inside the other grid. The screening defender must move laterally along the the middle grid line and cut off any penetrating ball and passing lanes to the opponents target player. If either defender wins the ball or the ball goes out of play, a new ball is initiated by the coach. 1-2 minutes rounds and then change the personnel. You can mix and match players from the neighboring grids if necessary.

Coaching Points:

The primary focus is on the screening defender highlighted in yellow. They must look over their shoulder at the target and try to align themselves between the ball and the target. This will prolong the ability for the team in possession to play through lines quickly. Meanwhile the primary or first defenders job is to win the ball or make the play predictable for the screening defender by cutting off lanes himself.

2.

Setup:

7V7 directional possession game. 5V3 in the middle of the playing area with two targets and four screening defenders as shown highlighted in yellow. 20X30 yard playing area.

Instructions:

The coach plays a ball into the playing area and the objective of the red team is to find either of their target players with a penetrating pass. The target can combine back into the area to continue to keep possession and hopefully find the other target. The three primary defenders try and win possession in the middle or at least make the play predictable for the four screening defenders. The screening defender must work within their channels to cut off and deny any passing lanes or penetrating balls. Within their defensive shape the yellow team can try and maintain possession for as long as possible. If the ball goes out of play a new ball is played in by the coach. The screening defenders must stay in their channels and on their half of the field.

Coaching Points:

All previous coaching points. Focus on developing a working relationship between the two screening defenders on each side of the field. These two players could represent the two holding midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

3.

Setup:

8V8 (8V7+GK) functional to goal with two counter goals. 15 field players plus GK as shown. Red team is playing out of a 4-2-3-1 without their center forward or wide attackers (4-2-1). The yellow team is playing a 4-4-2 diamond without their two central defenders shown. Forwards are stacked and outside backs are in an advanced attacking position.

Instructions:

The coach plays a ball into the yellow attacking team. Their objective is to pierce the shadowed box with a penetrating ball before they can combine and go to goal. The red team must focus on screening the box as well as defending their goal. If the red team wins possession they can counter and score on either small goal. 2X6 minutes.

Coaching Points:

Against a diamond midfield the red team will be overloaded at times in the central area of the field, especially the two holding midfielders highlighted in yellow. Focus on the working relationship of the back four and two screening defenders. Passing players on, communication from behind, stepping to the ball etc.

4.

Setup:

11V11 full field. The red team’s shape illustrates once the opponent has penetrated the midfield line.

Instructions:

Normal soccer rules apply. The two green lines represent the visual cue for the two holding midfielders and back four to drop and condense the central area of the field. 2X10 min.

Coaching Points:

All previous coaching points. Concentrate on the the tactical recognition of the defending team of when to step to the ball and when to drop off and defend. Focus on one team in a 4-2-3-1 and organize their opponent in a 4-4-2 diamond or 3-5-2.