Session: Coach A Team To Defend Against Combination Play

Coach A Team To Defend Against Combination Play

A session I coached to coach a team to defend against combination play. Session begins with a functional practice then moves into a phase of play. I spent approximately 20 minutes with the functional practice and 25 minutes on the phase of play.

The attacking team must play with a commitment to combination play to bring out the topic and test the defence. I played a left footer on the right wing and a right footer on the left wing to allow these players to attack the centre of the pitch and open up combinations with various players. The defending team must decide how it wants to defend in 1v1 situations with these wide players (show inside? down the line?). The defending team initially were unable to prevent balls into strikers’ feet which then opened up the possibility of combinations. The midfield were coached how to be compact and defend against these forward passes from being made. The depth of the back four must be observed; if combination play becomes unsuccessful the attacking team may then seize the opportunity to make long balls into the space behind as a result of the back four squeezing the space in front of them. If no pressure can be put onto the ball up the pitch the back four must be aware to protect the space behind.

Functional Practice


– Cone off area as illustrated
– Attacking team instructed to play with combinations
– Start from feeder into full back, centre midfield, striker
– Defending team can counter into goal via target feeder

Key Factors
– Principles of defending (pressure, depth, compactness, balance, control)
– 1 v 1 defending technique
– Compactness to prevent passes going into key areas
– Tracking runners with/without the ball

Phase Of Play


– Full width with two small goals as illustrated
– Both teams play with two lines of four and one target/feeder and one GK
– Target/feeder to play into full back followed by midfield
– Defending team can counter into two small goals

Key Factors
– Retain compactness to prevent ball being played with fast, combinations into key areas
– Show wide players certain direction depending on team philosophy
– Protection of Zone 14
– Attack may attempt to look for space behind – depth of team
– Pressure on ball
– Establish distances between individuals/units

Drawn using The Master Tactician

About markfc713

Enthusiastic, aspiring football coach.
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