U8 Practice Plan - Pressuring Defender

Practice Date: Friday, May 11th, 2018

This practice focuses on defending. Work with player on how and when to pressure when playing defense. This is a 1 hour practice session and the outline is as follows:

  • 20 x 10 2 vs 2 small sided game (10 minutes)
  • Get your own ball (15 minutes)
  • 1 vs 1 to single goal (15 minutes)
  • 31 x 20 4 vs 4 scrimmage (15 minutes)

End of Practice Discussion

  • What is the role of the pressuring defender? (the slow down the attack so teammate can get back to help).
  • When should the pressuring defender try and tackle the ball? (when the attacker makes a bad touch).
  • How quickly should the pressuring defender approach the attacker? (Quick! However, we want to slow down with quick choppier step as we get closer so we don’t run by them!)
  • How can a defender make play predictable? (by angling body to try and force attacker one way or the other).

20 x 10 2 vs. 2 - Small Sided Soccer Game

20 x 10 2 vs. 2 - Small Sided Soccer Game for U8


  • Make two fields at 20x10 yards. Place 2 yd goals on each endline
  • Players play 2v2 on field
  • If goal go out at sideline, throw-in or kick-in to get ball back in play (coach choice)
  • After goal is scored, play is restarted with a goalkick

Coaching Points

  • None. Let the players play and make mistakes. Only intervene if it is taking too long to get ball back in play.

Get Your Own Ball

Get your own ball - U8 Soccer Dribbling Game / Activity


  • Every player needs to have a ball, except for three players.
  • The players without a ball are trying to steal a ball from someone who has one. If a player loses their ball, they have to steal someone else’s.
  • If someone is trying to steal a ball, but kicks it out. The person they were trying to take it from still keeps the ball. (Meaning, if you kick it out the other person gets it!)
  • Play for 45 seconds and stop. The three players who don’t have a ball at the end lose. Play again!
  • Have a goofy activity for the losing players to do. Examples: donkey kicks, star jumps, etc


  • Patience as defender. Diving into a challenge allows an attacker to use your momentum against you to get around you. Try and stay with an attacker, and wait for them to take a poor touch before attempting a tackle.
  • Technique of tackling. Don’t stab at ball, but step in between attacker and the ball to win possession.

1 vs. 1 To Single Goal

1 vs. 1 To Single Goal - U8 Soccer Drill


  • Set up game as shown with all the balls with the line behind the goal.
  • Game starts with a pass from the first person in line to the first person in the attacking line.
  • Attacker tries to score on the little goal. If defender gets the ball, they try to dribble over attacker’s endline for a point.
  • If ball goes out of bounds, or a goal is scored, game is over and next two start. The players that just went switch lines.
  • As soon as ball goes out, next two have to be ready to play. Get game moving fast!

Coaching Points

  • The defender (called the pressuring defender) needs to approach with speed, but slow down as they get closer so attacker isn’t able to run by them. Slow down by taking short, choppier steps.
  • Try to make play predictable by angling body to force defender one way or the other.
  • Don’t dive in! An attacker will eventually make a mistake, so just keep in between them and the goal. Wait for the right moment to tackle when attacker takes a bad touch.

31 x 20 4 vs. 4 Scrimmage

31 x 20 4 vs. 4 Scrimmage - Soccer small sided game


  • Remove the endzones in the previous game, and add two 3 yard goals on each end (field is now 31x20yds)
  • Let players play 4v4, coach decides how restarts happen, depending on local rules

Coaching Points:

  • None! Just let them play! However, get excited when you see a player try a try a dribbling move, or attempts to get a defender off balance.
  • Always highlight positives you see, but don’t stop play and don’t correct their decision making. This is their time to play how they want!