A strong defense is the backbone of any successful soccer team, and it all starts with proper training at practice. Teaching players the fundamentals of defense not only instills essential soccer skills, but can also foster a sense of teamwork as they work as a cohesive unit to defend their goal.
In this article, we highlight six effective youth soccer drills that focus on defense. The drills help players practice positioning, angling, closing gaps, communication, and more. At the bottom of this article we will link to age specific U6, U8, U10, U12, U14, and U16 defending drills.
8 V 6, MOVING THE DEFENDERS
In 8 V 6, Moving The Defenders, the defenders learn the importance of pressuring the ball, while defenders are taught how to cover the most dangerous players first. The Goalkeeper gets a lot of work with communication.
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FOUR GOAL GAME
In the Four Goal Game, players learn how to step forward as a group. Groups can practice how to hold an offsides line, while defenders move as a group towards the ball in order to support their teammates.
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FIRST SHOUT DRILL
The First Shout Drill teaches the value of being verbal on the field. Defenders get used to following the directions of their goalkeeper, and the goalkeeper gets to practice giving clear, concise commands.
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8 V 8, DEFENSIVE SHAPE
The 8 V 8, Defensive Shape game allows for a lot of transition from attacking to defending. Players learn how to contract into the center as soon as the ball is lost. When a long pass is made, defenders must cover a lot of ground while the ball is rolling.
View full details of 8 V 8, Defensive Shape (Members Only)
2 V 2, SIDELINE TRAP
In the 2 v 2 Sideline Trap game, players learn how to force attackers towards the sideline, away from their help. Choosing the correct angle to the ball is vital in this drill. Aggressive defense can be played when trying to win the ball along the sideline.
View full details of 2 v 2 Sideline Trap (Members Only)
FIND THE KEEPER
In the Find The Keeper game, defenders must switch quickly from attacking to defending. The goalkeepers have to communicate from a distance and make themselves heard. The back four moves together in order to close the gaps between players.
View full details Find The Keeper (Members Only)
The six youth soccer drills & games shown above offer the ability for young players to practice their defensive skills. By focusing on essential aspects of defense, such as positioning, angling, closing gaps, and communication, coaches can help their players become an effective defensive unit. If you are looking for specific activities for particular age levels, please reference the links below.
Age Specific Defending Drills & Small Sided Games
- U6 Defending Drills
- U8 Defending Drills
- U10 Defending Drills
- U12 Defending Drills
- U14 Defending Drills
- U16 Defending Drills