Sigi Schmid Small Group Defending:
Pressure, Cover, Balance

From Coach Sigi Schmid's presentation in Atlanta, January 1995, at
the Georgia Soccer AGM, Gwinnett Civic Center.

Warm-Up

Fundamental

For this sequence of exercises, an attacker with ball dribbles forward about 30 to 40 yards while a defender facing the dribbler backs up and defends. For a team, half the team’s players would dribble, half defend at one time.

  • Partners with 1 ball, 1v1, defender backing up, attacker going forward, cutting ball from side to side, slow. Attacker with ball dribbles about 30 yards while doing cuts.
  • Partners with 1 ball, 1v1, defender backing up, attacker going forward, cutting ball from side to side, faster.
  • Partners with 1 ball, 1v1, defender backing up, attacker going forward, cutting ball from side to side, ask defender to influence play with fake tackles and feints, OK to poke ball if ball goes too far. Coaching points:
  • Defender's body position is not on the line of play, but close enough to the line of play to prevent a foot race to the open side. If too far onto the line of play, ball will be cut behind defender.
  • As player cuts, move body to new line of play but do not extend and stretch with foot. This would be diving in, which causes the defender to lose balance and get beaten.

Match Related

  • Defending exercise - two lines facing at 30 yards in 20 x 30 grid. Defender with ball passes to attacker to start play. Attacker tries to dribble past defender and get shot on small cone goal at opposite end. Shot must stay below knee high to score, cones about 5 feet wide. Coaching points:
  • Variation - use two goals at defenders end, each same size, one at either side of field.
  • Defender must close distance while ball is traveling.
  • Defender must move feet and avoid standing flat footed.
  • Defender must tighten up when getting close to goal so defender can win ball when attacker makes mistake.
  • Defender should avoid tackling across - use foot on ball side. Tackling across is not as bad as turning back, however.
  • 2 defenders v 1 attacker. Defenders pass ball to opposite side to start play. Attacker going to small goal at defenders end in 30 x 20 grid. Coaching points:
  • First defender must get really close to attacker if support is available.
  • Support must be close enough or you just have two 1 v 1's
  • In final third, usually have to force attackers outside. In midfield third, may want to force faster players into traffic in the middle.
  • 3 attackers v 2 defenders, start play with defender playing ball to attackers. Attackers maintain possession and move ball slowly up the field. Progress to 3v3.  Coaching points:
  • Defenders work to keep ball in front
  • Defenders never square or ball gets played into space behind
  • Work to allow attackers to make mistake
  • When ball played from attacker, nearest defender should pursue along line of play to force pass away, rather than just dropping off.

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