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Drills for 4 defensive line in zonal defense

Intro

We begin with an approach to the concept of zonal defense. We compare it to other types of defense and relate it to the tactical principles of the game. Once we understand this kind of defense, we put into practice some drills that will allow you to work on this specific subject – the line-of-4 zonal defending.

Theoretical approach

In soccer we have a team with ball possession (offensive phase) and another without the ball (defensive phase).

In this case, we will focus on the defensive phase:

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The team without the ball can chose different types of defensive behaviors to recover the ball and avoid the opponent’s goals:

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To fulfill this tasks, players need to understand and master a set of tactical principles, i.e., every technical-tactical actions a team can develop when having no ball possession, listed below:

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Things to look for in zonal defense

  • Define your game system with the number of lines and the players by line, to be adopted by the team when in defense
  • Get to know the defensive positioning the team uses when they lose the ball
  • Get to know the defensive level of the players and of the different defensive team lines
  • Each player should know his zone, according to depth and width. The player position also depends on the team mates, the opponents and the ball
  • Space reduction of the zones in depth and width increases defensive efficiency
  • Zonal defense allows to keep the order, organization and space distribution of the team. Defenders should never leave their zones
  • The help of team members from other lines reduce the risk of individual errors – solidarity it’s a very important aspect for the efficiency of this type of defense 

This type of defense also has some weak points, to be worked on the training process:

  • Opponents can penetrate the zones multiple times during the match
  • Attachment points between 2 zones can create some doubts in the defense
  • 2 or 3 opponents in the same zone at some given point

 

Practical application 

Here we show you some examples on how to work the defensive line in zonal defensive system:

4×4 horizontal progression

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Goal:

Training defensive work situations with a line of 4 – horizontal progression

Description:

Always start from one of the sides at maximum speed (in horizontal progression) – positional work of the defenders. Attack the ball when it’s close to the player’s zone and get back on the line when the ball leaves the zone

Note:

Double covering in the central lane it’s important

Propositions:

  • Communication
  • Disarm
  • Cover the passing lines between the players
  • Defense shouldn’t have 2 pressuring the ball
  • Pressure the ball carrier

 

4×4 vertical progression

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Goal:

Training defensive work situations with a line of 4 – vertical progression

Description:

One player at the time, defenders step back until the edge of penalty area and then 1 of them attacks the ball. The other players stay covering from the left or the right respectively

Note:

Double covering in the central lane it’s important

Propositions:

  • Communication
  • Back running without losing the reference – the ball
  • Adjust the speed to the opponent´s
  • Fix a zone for every defenders to stop – the edge of penalty area

 

GK+4×4 with individual reference

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Goal:

Attack – score goal

Defense – after recovering the ball try to put the ball on the sides to score a point

Description:

  • Defensive line with individual references, if the forward is backwards he goes up on the field
  • Player in progression – defenders step down on the field
  • Player pressured – contention and covering

Variation:

Set a target zone for the defenders after recovering the ball – side lanes

Propositions:

  • Guide the clearance for the less dangerous areas (prioritize trajectory and power)
  • Maximum pressure situations – every player in width and depth
  • Long Clearance
    • Opponent pressured and the defensive line goes up reducing space in depth
    • Opponent not pressured – line progress with the possibility of long pass in the back

 

GK+4×6 side line focus

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Goal:

Improve the defensive behavior on the side lanes

Description:

Starting from the offensive midfield – starts with the defensive midfielder with the ball. If the attackers enter in the side lane target zone the defenders must recover the ball and make 2 passes to gain 1 point. If the attackers can manage to make a cross with a shot and goal, they score 2 points

Propositions:

  • Side lane defense
  • Defensive depth
  • Give a solution for the superiority in the side lane – center back on the ball and the full back in contention
  • Lateral length between defenders
  • Marking orientation

 

GK+4×6 – width control


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Goal:

Defensive misalignments – clear the ball to one of the side lanes

Description:

The coach says the color of one of the small marks on the midfield and the defense needs to adapt their position according to that small mark. We set the maximum depth given – penalty area entrance. The defense perform 3 to 4 repetitions before the coach orders to attack the goal. The offensive team tries to score. The defensive team tries to recover and clear the ball to the side lanes

Propositions:

  • Forward movements work
  • Players correctly aligned – they need to see the ball and the goal
  • Collective retreats with 3 players – central space defense
  • Defensive depth
  • Covering
  • Exchanges whether the offensive team plays short or long

 

1×1 – central back on the side lanes

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Goal:

Central back work on the side lanes. Improve the center backs covering on the side lane

Description:

Forward or winger tries to pass the first door against the full back. The defender needs to conduct him to the side lane and close the central lane. Then, the attacker goes against the central back on the door closest to the area

If the central back can bring the forward closer to the line, the full back can help to create a 2×1 situation

Propositions:

  • The defender must start on the central lane and position himself to give the side lane to the attackers
  • Full back help the central back – covering

 

 

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Hélder Moita

Hélder Moita

Hélder Moita, a 30 years old coach living in Lisbon, with 8 years of experience and UEFA B licensed coach. Loves the act of creation involved in the training process and tries to expose his feelings and passion in every analysis he does. Hélder Moita, treinador de 31 anos residente em Lisboa, com 8 anos de experiência e licença de treinador UEFA B. Apaixonado pelo acto de criação envolvido no processo de treino e tenta expor os seus sentimentos e paixão em todas as análises que faz. Email: heldermoita23@gmail.com

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