Defending Session – On Guard (Pressure, Cover, 1v1, 2v2, 4v4

This session from the Irish FA Level One Course is excellent for U11+ ages and is a good introduction to the basic principles of defending.

Defending - On Guard - 1v1, 2v2, 4v4
Defending – On Guard – 1v1, 2v2, 4v4

Session Coaching Points:

The session begins with a 1v1 situation where the defending players aim to delay the attacker as long as possible.

We then progress to a 2v2 scenario where the players must develop an understanding of who should press and then the role of the second defender.

The session can then be finished with a 4v4 activity where we then look at the roles of the 3rd and 4th defender who provide balance and support.

The 2 fundamental coaching points of the session are:

How to press

  • Closest player to the ball applies pressure
  • Body shape – dictate the play
  • Don’t dive in

How to cover

  • Distance from pressing player
  • Angles – no through balls
  • Communication

Who would this benefit?

I like to use this session as an introduction to defending principles, depending on the group it can be used as early as U10/U11.This is also an excellent activity to do with older Youth Teams in order to revisit the basic principles of defending.

Download Session

Click on the image at the top of the post for a JPG or if you prefer you can Download the On Guard Defending Session Plan as a PDF.

Coaching Books for Christmas 2017

I’ve picked up a couple of great coaching books in 2017. Improving my knowledge of the game is one of the most important things I try to do every week.

There is plenty of lessons you can learn from the best coaches in the world and apply to your sessions, even at grassroots level.

Here’s a couple of of my favourite coaching books from this year:

1. No Hunger in Paradise by Mike Calvin

No Hunger in Paradise - Coaching BooksNo Hunger in Paradise - Coaching BooksSportswriter Mike Calvin documents the world of the Academy Setup in England and looks at what it takes to become a professional footballer.

In this book Mike looks at how hard it really is to become a professional footballer, what environment awaits the brightest players and paints a frank picture of how many players ultimately forge a career in the game.

Buy No Hunger In Paradise: The Players. The Journey. The Dream on amazon.co.ukNo Hunger In Paradise: The Players. The Journey. The Dream - Coaching Books

2. The European Game: The Secrets of European Football Success by Daniel Fieldsend

No Hunger In Paradise: The Players. The Journey. The Dream - Coaching BooksNo Hunger In Paradise: The Players. The Journey. The Dream - Coaching Books This is a great concept for a book, football fan turned author Daniel Fieldsend takes a trip around Europe visiting clubs from Lisbon and Bilbao to Amsterdam and Munich.

The book looks at how Europe’s best teams educate their young players and looks at the cultures created in order to consistently compete at the top of the European game.

Buy The European Game: The Secrets of European Football Success on Amazon UKNo Hunger In Paradise: The Players. The Journey. The Dream - Coaching Books

3. Modern Soccer Coach 2017 by Gary Curneen

Modern Soccer Coach 2017 - Coaching BooksModern Soccer Coach 2017 - Coaching Books Originally released in 2014, I’m regularly going back to this book for my weekly session planning.

The book is packed full of really good activities, focusing on everything from warm-ups, transitions, counter-attacking and possession.

Omagh native and good friend Gary Curneen has since published follow up books on Position-Specific TrainingModern Soccer Coach 2017 - Coaching Books and Pre-Season TrainingModern Soccer Coach 2017 - Coaching Books, both also worth a look!

Buy The Modern Soccer Coach 2014: A Four Dimensional Approach on Amazon UKModern Soccer Coach 2017 - Coaching Books

4. Pep Evolution

Pep Evolution - Coaching BooksPep Evolution - Coaching Books The follow up book to Pep ConfidentialPep Evolution - Coaching Books by Marti Perarnau which takes an in-depth look at Pep Guardiola’s tenure at Bayern Munich.

Get an insight into Pep’s philosophy and how it has evolved from his time at Barcelona to his career in Bavaria.

One of my favourite coaches of the modern game, a great character and a master of the game.

Buy Pep Guardiola: The Evolution on Amazon UKPep Evolution - Coaching Books

5. Until Victory Always: A Memoir by Jim McGuinness

Jim McGuinness - Coaching BooksJim McGuinness - Coaching Books Jim McGuiness is currently coaching Football in China with Beijing Sinobo Guoan, he’s come a long way from coaching his Native Donegal to All-Ireland Football success in 2012.

In the book Jim gives an account of how he analysed and ultimately neutralised a great Dublin team with an impressive tactical display.

It caused some controversy when published but from a coaching point of view there are some excellent stories included.

Buy Until Victory Always: A Memoir on Amazon UKJim McGuinness - Coaching Book


I’ve a few books on my reading list for 2018… if you have any recommendations please send them on!