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U8-U11's Session for 5-11 year olds // Defending - Being Hard to Beat


Staff member
Mar 6, 2018
Players: 12
Duration : 90 mins
Equipment Required: 2 medium sized goals, 12 size 4 footballs, 4 small sized goals, 2 x 6 sets of different coloured bibs, 1 medium sized whiteboard, 4 mini whiteboards with pens, cones, flat markers
Session Format: Arrival activity, Part-Part-Whole
Intervention Style: Drive-by (when required), group discussions with white boards inbetween sessions.
Coaching Style: Q&A 40%, Guided Discovery 40%, command and control 20%
  • To work on individual defending in opposed situations
  • To help the players understand the decisions to make when defending
  • To encourage winning the ball cleanly to start a counter attack
Why would you use this session?
  • Players need to work on their defending technique and understand how they can turn a defensive situation into an attacking opportunity
Link to club philosophy and England DNA
  • Out of Possession - Master a Variety of Defensive Techniques and Roles
  • Out of Possession - Positive and Enthusiastic Defending
  • Out of Possession - Intelligent Defending
  • Transition - Positive and Intelligent Attacking Actions
Desired outcome
  • Players can defend in a 1v1 situation
  • Players can combine with their team mates to defend
  • Players understand they can retain the ball from a tackle to start an attack
Arrival Activity - Small Sided Game - 15 mins

  • 2 pitches, each set up with 4 Size 4 Footballs
  • Area 20x30 marked with cones, with 2 small sized goals
  • 2x4 bibs of different colour
How to play
As the players arrive, direct them to one of the pitches to start a small sided game.
  • You only need 2 to start
  • Add players incrementally to create attacking overload scenarios (maximum is 4v3)
  • Unrestricted play, but observe defensive technique and understanding
Part 1 - On Guard - 20 mins

  • 12 Players
  • 1v1
  • 6 Size 4 Footballs
  • 6 x Area 30 x 10
  • 2 different coloured bibs x 6
How to play
Player A starts as defender, Player B as attacker.
Player A passes ball to Player B. Player B must get past Player A to the byline. Three attempts and then swap over.
Intervention: After three turns each, ask each team to come up with 3 things to consider when defending.
Give each team one more go each.
Intervention: After the second go for each team, ask them to return to their white boards to discuss what ‘success’ means for the defender. Hint: Being difficult to beat; Winning the ball cleanly; Keeping the ball to start a counter attack.
Part 2 - Individual Defending Game - 25 mins

  • 12 Players
  • 3 teams of four players
  • 5 Size 4 Footballs
  • Area 30x50
How to play
Start with 4 defenders who are locked into 1 square each on a 4x4 grid, defending a goal. Attackers start by attacking in twos. Defenders must stay in their square and defend. If the defenders win the ball they can leave their squares and counter attack the attackers’ goal.
Rotation: After 10 mins swap one of the attacking teams for the defending team, each team should play 10 mins in defence.
Intervention: Drive-by style helping defenders with their positioning and technique. Encourage defenders to win the ball cleanly and start a counter attack. Challenge attackers to think about what they should do if they are tackled.
Progression: If the defenders are doing well and need challenging, progress to 3 or 4 attackers to create attacking overloads.
Whole - Risky Business - 25 mins

Set-up: 12 Players, 6 Size 4 Footballs, Area 30x50, 2 Goals
  • Scoring system - 1v1 5 pts, 2v1 2 pts, 3v2 3 pts
  • 6 defenders, 6 attackers.
  • 3 defenders stand beside each goal
  • Attackers choose which format to play
  • Coach serves ball to attacking players who attack an end.
  • If attackers score they return to the halfway line to receive another ball and attack the other end.
  • If defenders win the ball they can counter attack to score a goal and secure points
Watch the above Youth Module 1 video session as an example.
Intervention: After 1 go for each team, remind the players of the session theme. In their groups let them discuss how they can improve their defending in this game.
Key coaching points
  1. Be hard to beat
  2. Position yourself between the attacker and the goal
  3. Low balance
  4. Eyes on the ball
  5. Try to come out of the tackle with the ball in possession
Key questions
  1. In a match situation when would you need to defend?
  2. Who in our team needs more to defend?
  3. Where do you need to position yourself when defending?
  4. How can you help your team mates defend?
  5. How can you be hard to beat?
  6. What can you do if you win the ball in the tackle?