The 4 S’s of Defending

I planned the session well in advance and was thoroughly prepared. The topic of the session was defending, more specifically 1v1s.

After watching the U9’s week after week, I’ve found that the players were allowing opposition players to come onto them and backing off until the opposition reached our penalty box. I wanted the team to tackle the opposition higher up the pitch and then we could build our attacks from there.

So I started of the session by setting up 8 by 8 yard squares. The size of area was purposely small (will explain why in another article). The players got into pairs and entered their own square. The pair would then stand on the boundaries of the square opposite each other. One player of the pair has the ball and his/her aim is to get to the opposite side of the square. The other player’s job is to not let the player dribble to their side.

Coaching Points: It was at the start of the session where I introduced the 4 S’s of defending. They are Shut Down, Slow Down, Sit Down and Show Down.

Shut Down = Pressure. Close down the space between you and the opposition player as quickly as possible. This will force opposition player into making decisions a lot quicker and doesn’t allow him/her time on the ball.

Slow Down = Try to slow yourself a few yards before you reach the player. If you don’t slow down, the opposition player will find it easier to push the ball past you. Force the player into a harder decision.

Sit Down = Knees should be bent. It allows for a quicker change in body position which helps deal with attackers change of pace and direction.

Show Down = This is where you put together the other 3 S’s and try and win the ball of the opposition when the player feels it is right. A “Show Down” between defender and attacker.

Give each player around 3-4 minutes of defending and then change it over to other player defending.

The SSG’s I moved onto to enforce message of 4 S’s were:

1) 4v4. Area = 40 x 20 yards, Time = 20 minutes (courtesy of @SebTideySoccer via Twitter)

Condition: Players must take at least 4 touches of the ball.

A) Gives more incentive for defensive players to press attacker before he makes 4 touches

B) Teaches how to shield a ball

2) 4v4. Split same area as above into 2 halves. Time = 20 minutes

Condition: Players must cross into opposition half before they can shoot.

A) More incentive for players to press higher up the pitch to stop opposition entering half. As a result, if team wins ball they are already in opposition half.

B) Could also bring in second defender supports/cover if not overwhelming for kids.

C) Emphasise importance of communication

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2 thoughts on “The 4 S’s of Defending

  1. Exactly how I teach defending. You have to pressure upfield or your opponent will walk it into the box. One other point, defenders must want to defend – seek show-downs if you will. Some players shy away from battling it out. Great points!

    • Thanks for the comment.

      We have to remember though, every situation is different. If the player has pace, sometimes it’s better to back off a couple of yards to compensate. Also, if you’re team is being countered, it’s better to delay the attack than close down the space. I think that the technique above needs to be taught, but not just the technique. Players need to know when and why we use that technique.

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