5 more ways your team can improve defensively

In this article we are looking at five MORE ways in which your team can improve aspects of their defensive play. Relevant sessions from the platform are then provided for each point, so you can use them with your players.

Dec 23rd 2021

Written by The Coaching Manual

1. Staying Compact

Staying in position and keeping compact as a unit when out of possession is vital for a team when trying to improve defensively. Coaches should focus on teaching their players the fundamentals of pressing and covering and then knowing the right time to go and engage the ball.

Check out the following sessions for ways in which you can help your teams to stay more compact when defending.

Staying Compact Defending In Balance (13+)

Remaining Compact whilst Defending in Balance (13+)

2. Defensive Transitions 

After losing the ball the best time to win it back is within the next 5-10 seconds but if this can’t be done it's important for the defending team to drop back and get into a solid defensive shape as quickly as possible.

The infographic below highlights the key aspects about the transition to defend and provides tips on how players can change their mentality when it comes to defending in these instances:


These sessions will help your teams to focus on acting quickly when losing the ball.

Defending The Counter Attack (13+)

Defending after Losing the Ball (13+)

3. Defending Crosses

One of the key components in football is the play in wide areas and in turn attacking and defending crosses. Therefore, teams need to be coached on how to stay compact as a unit and limit the danger when balls are put into the box.

Players need to know how to be in the correct position as the ball comes in, either be tight to the player they are marking or know where they are, be aggressive and on the front foot if the ball comes in their vicinity and be able to clear the ball.

Check out these sessions and practices so you can implement them with your team and become better at defending balls from wide areas:

Defending Crosses (11-12)

Defending Crosses (13+)

4. Playing out from the back 

Although playing out from the back isn’t a way of improving defensively as such but it is becoming an increasingly important way in which defensive players have to play.

Not only does this way of playing help teams to build up play from the back and play through the lines it’s also a good way of improving the technical ability and composure on the ball of the back line and the goalkeeper.

Check out the following sessions and guides to help your team either begin to play out from the back or improve the way they do it already.

Playing Out From The Back Guide

Playing Out From The Back Masterclass with Steve McClaren (13+)

Playing Out From The Back Masterclass with Dean Smith (13+)

Playing Out From The Back (9-12) 

5. Defending Corners

Setting time aside in training to focus on how to defend corners and set pieces is really important. There are a couple of different ways in which teams can defend corners; Player to Player, Zonal or a mixture of both. The infographic below shows the benefits of these systems:


Check out this article for a more in-depth analysis of the three systems.

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