Defending crosses | Soccer Coach Weekly

The priorities for any defender when dealing with an opposition cross is to be first to the ball, clear it out of the danger area, and, if successful with the first two aspects, get themselves out of the area to reorganise.

What this session is about

  1. Clearing the ball from the penalty box by getting height and distance.
  2. Reorganising after stopping the danger.

What to think about

Defenders must:

  • Be goal side of the opponent they are marking (nearer to their own goal) and be able to see the attacker and ball.
  • Attack the ball.
  • Clear the danger from the penalty area – width, distance, height – and try again if unsuccessful first time. Clear behind the goal if necessary, but not across it.
  • Use the correct header/volley techniques.
  •  Step up after the clearance so the offside rule favours the defending team and help regain the team’s shape.

Set-up

Warm up Session Developments Game Situation Warm Down
10 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes 15 minutes 10 minutes

What you get your players to do

Set up an area with a goal at one end, as shown in the top picture. Using one end of your regular pitch is ideal but reduce the playing area width.

You will need to use at least eight players – two defenders and a keeper face four attackers and a server.

The server stands at the opposite end from the goal. Two defenders stand just inside the penalty box, ready to defend against two attackers who will make runs into the box. Two wingers, one on each side of the pitch, are not allowed to enter the penalty box.

Play begins with the server passing to either winger. The winger then dribbles up the side of the pitch before crossing for the attackers arriving in the box, who attempt to score.

Defenders aim to clear the ball out of the penalty area. Tell wingers to vary their crosses – high, low, near post, far post etc., from the goal line, inswinging, outswinging, etc.

Make sure defenders swap roles with two other players regularly until everyone has been a defender.

To progress, the other winger can make an attacking run into the penalty box at the far post to make a 3v2 inside the penalty area.

A server (S) supplies a winger (W) who crosses for attackers (A) but defenders (D) try to repel the attack.

A server (S) supplies a winger (W) who crosses for attackers (A) but defenders (D) try to repel the attack.


Development

Add two cone gate goals at the opposite end of the playing area to the regular goal, as shown in the middle picture.

This gives defenders a real objective to aim for. Encourage them to clear the ball wide and long if possible and score through the cone goals.

The attack works in the same way as before but now defenders have cone gate goals to aim for with their clearances.

The attack works in the same way as before but now defenders have cone gate goals to aim for with their clearances.


Game situation

Play a small-sided game. To encourage more attacking crosses and, inevitably, more defending practice, create more space on the wings by increasing the width of the pitch or by adding crossing channels that defenders cannot enter.

Make sure all players get an equal amount of time in defence so all learn what is needed to succeed. The team that scores most goals wins.

In a small-sided game, the area is wider so more crosses are served – this gives defenders plenty of practice at clearing the danger.

In a small-sided game, the area is wider so more crosses are served – this gives defenders plenty of practice at clearing the danger.


What to call out

Tony Carr

About Tony Carr

Tony Carr is one of the most influential figures in English football. The former West Ham Academy director has brought through – from the youth team to the first team – players like Glen Johnson, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe.

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