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Compact Unit Defending | Skill (03-P2)

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

This possession-based soccer drill takes place in a 50 x 40 area, with 4 mini goals positioned on the corner of each baseline with 2 at each end as shown. 2 teams, with at least 4 players on each team, (no more than 8), attempt to create space to score in either of the 2 goals.


Key Coaching Points

  • Although this is a defensive practice in the main, we must ensure the attacking quality is at the level to work the defenders. Therefore, our first Interventions should be based on the standard of passing and movement in possession.

  • Slide quickly and stay with forward runners.

  • The attacking team starts to be more forceful and creative - Could develop transition on regaining possession, so that once scored, they have 3 seconds to start playing again from anywhere. this encourages ownership and constant speed of play.

  • Play Safe / Exploit player advantage

  • Individual or group challenges could be set, for example (Back 4 + MF 2 must not concede). Be creative with your progressions and tailor them to your players' needs.


See all of Coaching Theme 3: http://go.touchtight.com/6qPDre



Progression 1 | Wide Channels

  • The attacking team must have a player in each wide channel to score.

Progression 2 | Outside Floaters

  • Players can bounce off target players on the outside, 1 touch finish, defenders drop further.

Progression 3 | Central Area

  • Must get played through the central area, encouraging DFs to retract again (DF Decisions)


Player Focus

Defensive Compactness | Sliding Together | Forcing Direction | Decision To Press | Quality in Possession.




Extra - How to become a compact defensive unit

Compact defending is a strategy that involves maintaining a tight, organised defensive structure in order to make it difficult for the opposing team to penetrate and create scoring chances. At the highest level of soccer, compact defending typically involves the following elements:

  1. Compact shape: The team maintains a compact shape, with the defenders and midfielders positioned close together and organized in a line or formation. This makes it difficult for the opposing team to play through the defence and find gaps to exploit.

  2. Tight marking: The team's defenders and midfielders apply tight marking to the opposing team's attackers, following them closely and trying to prevent them from receiving the ball or turning with it.

  3. Pressure on the ball: The team applies pressure on the ball carrier, trying to win the ball back quickly and close down any passing lanes.

  4. Cover and balance: The team's defenders and midfielders work together to provide cover and balance, making sure that they are well positioned to defend against counterattacks and maintain their shape if the ball is lost.

By implementing these elements, teams at the highest level of soccer are able to maintain a compact, organized defence that is difficult to break down and create scoring chances against.

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