Coach Central Defenders On Dealing With Crosses

Soccer Central defenders Coaching Session

Objective(s)
Organization

1) Coach understanding on how to defend against crosses.
2) Coach how to deal with attackers in the final third.
3) Coach defending movements of central defenders.


• 1/3 Field (25mins).  
• 13 (+Gk)
• 
Mark out 1/3 of a full size pitch with two wide areas as on diagram. Prepare min. 4 spare balls. Two teams play in specific formations. Provide tactical instructions for each team:  

Formations

Attacking team:
1. 7 players.
2. 1-2-4 formation (defensive midfielder, two central midfielders, 2 strikers and 2 wingers).
3. The attacking team scores into the full sized goal.
4. After losing possession team defends three mini goals and tries to regain possession as soon as possible.
5. Attack should be made quickly and played through the wide area.
Players No. 7 and 11 should provide variety of different crosses.

Defending team:
1. 7 players (6+GK)
2. 1-4-2 formation
3. Defend full sized goal with the goalkeeper.
4. After gaining possession score into one of the three small goals as soon as possible.
5. Zonal/mixed defending. Defend deep. Encourage counter-attack when in possession.

Instructions

• Starting position of player no.4 is behind the red line, in the central area (can be varied). Game starts when the ball is played in by player no.4. Every attack should be played through one of the wingers. No other players allowed in the wide zone until the first touch of a winger. There are no goal kicks. Each time, the game starts from the player no.4 playing the ball in. Two teams compete and attempt to score.

Scoring
• The attacking team scores into the full sized goal. After gaining possession defending team attacks three mini goals as soon as possible. Allow maximum one minute to attack (can be varied).

Progressions
• Add more attacking players. Create overload situation in the penalty box.
• Move to 7v7/9v9 game with specific rules (ex. wide areas/attack through the winger counts twice) or phase of play on 2/3 pitch.  
• 
Coach central defenders to switch from attack to defence and then defend against crosses.
• Set more difficult challenges for individuals, units and team (ex. defend against cross, gain possession and score/head the ball to particular area of the pitch).  

Coaching Points
1) Observation. Observe where is the ball, opponents and teammates. Look sideways and in behind.
2) Body Position. Adapt body position so you can see the ball, opponents and teammates (sideways).
3)  Stance. Stay on your toes and be ready to move in any direction. Adjust your position to ball flight.
4) Distance. Keep a defender on your arm distance so you can react to his movements.
5) Communication. Communicate verbally with GK and other defenders. Keep it very short and confident. Introduce “trigger words” such as “mark”, “drop”, “mine”, “squeeze”.  
6) Man marking/Zonal marking. Cover players/space depending on tactics.  
7) Adjustment. Adjust your position to ball flight, opponents and teammates movement. Be switched on and aware of your position. Remain between the goal and attacker.
8) Surface of contact and Timing. Choose surface of contact with the ball. Time your attack on the ball. Make a quick, sharp movement.  
Confidence and Courage. Be brave and confident in your decisions. Central defenders and GK should be in charge of the penalty box. As a coach, identify leaders and use them to instruct other players.
9) Switch to attack immediately. Priority is to pass forwards to your teammate. Aim for wide areas (opposite side) as a general rule but consider other options if possible. Follow the direction of the ball (squeeze).
Diagram 2 - Progression 1
• Add more attacking players. Create overload situation in the penalty box.
Progression 1
Diagram 3 - Progression 2
Move to 7v7/9v9 game with specific rules (ex. wide areas/attack through the winger counts twice) or phase of play on 2/3 pitchs.
Progression 2
Diagram 4 - Coaching Points - Body Position
Central defender should adapt a body position so he can see the ball, opponent in possession and attacker. Also, quick observations of GK and area around defender should be made. Stance on toes will enable defender to move in any direction and react quickly to opponents and ball movement.
Coaching Point for Central Defenders
Diagram 5 - Coaching Points - Squeezing Up
Priority on the contact with the ball is to pass forwards. Defenders should aim for wide areas (opposite side) as a general rule but also consider other options if possible. Follow the direction of the ball (squeeze).
Coaching Point for Central Defenders
Variations
None.
Notes & Observations
Coach defending players from different perspectives (transition from attack to defence, transition from defence to attack and lost of possession etc.). Coach defending team, manage attacking team. Winger should provide different types of crosses (back post, front post, aerial, ground etc.) from variable positions. Also, include defending against crosses from set-pieces and corners.