The most common mistake in the defensive phase

Just as an attacker is instinctively attracted towards the ball, a defender is attracted towards a striker. During the attacking phase, we use this to drag the defenders out of position and create space. However, coaches frequently neglect this when they coach defensive phase.

On all levels from youth to the elite, we see defenders tracking the attacker on a run into depth, behind the back line. In this video, I’ve tried to explain when this shouldn’t happen and why it is a liability for a team when it does happen.

The best players aren’t only those who can dribble at speed or those that score goals. Some players can do that, but all players have to think quickly. All other conditions being equal, the ability to make a right decision in a split second is what makes the difference between the top, and an average, player on all levels.

While offensive phase has a tendency to get more creative and free of strict rules as we progress further up the pitch, the defensive phase is its mirror picture. It gets more structured and bound with rules as the opposition gets closer to our goal.

The defender needs to be aware of his position, the ball, his teammates and the opposition. It is difficult to track all that at the same time, and communication becomes a fundamental part of the game.


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