When you are working with younger and beginner soccer players, introducing the attacking principle of Defensive Balance can be done in a fun and engaging way. Here’s how you can simplify, explain and teach the principle of defensive balance to your players:
What Is It?
- Balance in defence refers to the ability to cover all areas of the field effectively, ensuring no part of your defence is left vulnerable to attack.
- It involves positioning, understanding, and effective communication among players to distribute themselves across the field, effectively managing the space between them.
- It’s about both vertical and horizontal coverage. This means not only covering the width of the field but also managing the depth between the defensive line and the goal.
Why Is It Important?
- Defensive Balance is crucial to prevent the attacking team from exploiting gaps in your defence. A well-balanced defence is harder to break down.
- It ensures your team has cover in all parts of the field, reducing the risk of being caught out by long balls, wide attacks, or through balls.
- Maintaining balance can also provide a platform for counter-attacks. If the team is balanced, it can more quickly transition into attack once the ball is won back.
When Do We Need It?
- Balance is required at all times when your team doesn’t have the ball. It’s especially crucial when the opponent is in possession and looking to attack.
- During defensive transitions, it’s important to quickly restore balance to prevent being caught out by a fast counter-attack.
- If the opponent is building up an attack and probing for weaknesses, maintaining balance can help thwart their attempts and ultimately win back possession.
Where Do We Use It?
- Balance is utilized across the entire field, from the defensive third to the midfield. It’s about maintaining an effective defensive shape, no matter where the ball is.
- It’s especially important in the defensive third, where an imbalance can lead to direct goal-scoring opportunities for the opponent.
- Balance also applies to the spaces between players. Ensuring there is not too much or too little space between defenders is key to preventing penetrative passes and runs.
Who Does It?
- All players are responsible for maintaining balance when the team is in a defensive situation. Everyone needs to be aware of their position relative to their teammates.
- Defenders obviously play a key role, but midfielders and even attackers need to contribute to maintaining balance, especially during defensive transitions.
- The goalkeeper can also play a role in maintaining balance, not only by covering the depth behind the defence but also through communication and organizing the defence.
How We Do It?
- Balance is provided through intelligent positioning, understanding of the game, and effective communication among players.
- It requires constant adjustment to the movement of the ball and the opponent’s players. It’s not about being static but about moving in harmony as a unit.
- Providing balance involves managing the space between players and between lines. Too much space can allow the opponent to exploit gaps, while too little space can lead to being caught out by long balls or wide attacks.
Moments In The Game To Coach
- In a 3v3 game, I would emphasize the importance of covering all areas of the field, even when focusing on the ball carrier. I’d highlight situations where better balance could have prevented an opponent’s breakthrough.
- During defensive transitions, I would coach players on quickly restoring balance to prevent fast counter-attacks. I’d use pauses in the game to discuss and demonstrate the ideal positioning.
- If we’re defending a lead late in the game, I would remind players to maintain balance, stay disciplined, and not leave any part of the defence exposed.
Guided Discovery Questions
- Q: What should you do if you see a large gap in our defence?
A: I should adjust my position to cover the gap, while also communicating with my teammates to ensure we maintain balance.
- Q: Why is balance important when the opponent is in possession?
A: It prevents them from exploiting gaps in our defence, and makes it harder for them to create scoring opportunities.
- Q: How can maintaining balance help us in attacking situations?
A: A well-balanced defence can quickly transition into attack once the ball is won back, and it also reduces the risk of being caught out by a counter-attack.
- Q: How does communication contribute to maintaining balance?
A: Effective communication helps us coordinate our movements, manage the space between players, and ensure all areas of the field are covered.
- Q: What role does the goalkeeper play in maintaining balance?
A: The goalkeeper provides depth coverage behind the defence and can also help organize the defence through communication.
- Q: Is balance only about the space between players?
A: No, it also involves the space between lines and covering both the width and depth of the field.
- “Today, we’re focusing on maintaining balance in our defence. Remember, we need to cover all areas of the field effectively, and manage the space between us. It’s about moving in harmony as a unit, communicating effectively, and not leaving any part of our defence exposed. Let’s stay disciplined, work together, and maintain our balance.”
- “We need to maintain balance at all times, especially when the opponent has the ball. It’s not just about focusing on the ball carrier, but also being aware of the overall defensive shape and preventing the opponent from exploiting gaps. Remember, a well-balanced defence is harder to break down, so let’s work together, communicate, and keep our balance.”