In this full version of our Live Session with A League club, Melbourne Victory’s U20 squad, UEFA A licensed coach, Dave Wright delivers 3 practices with a defensive focus.

Dave will deliver 3 parts to the session designed to keep a defensive theme throughout but allow all elements of the game to emerge in the form of attack, defence and transition. This is an example of taking a theme or topic and tying a range of practices together where the coach can observe outcomes from the prior practice emerge in the next part:

Part 1: 1v1 Defensive Decision Making

In this practice, UEFA A licensed coach, Dave Wright gets out on the grass with a group of Melbourne Victory U20 players. Dave sets up three stations for the players to work on 1v1 defending in groups of four.

The session is designed to recreate a turnover and get players thinking about defensive decisions, when to press and when to hold, whilst encouraging attackers to express themselves and be creative. Defenders are encouraged to work on character traits like persistence, and determination and you’ll see Dave drive home two key coaching points and allow the players a high level of repetition.

This practice can be adapted to 1v2, 2v1, 2v2 and of course the angle of the turnover and duel can be adjusted for your players.

Part 2: Defending Collectively

In this session UEFA A licensed coach, Dave Wright continues on his defensive work with the Melbourne Victory U20 group. The practice is designed to encourage players to collaborate and work together in units to block forward and split passes.

Dave demonstrates some gradual progressions to allow attackers and defenders to move into opposition zones and create more chaos. The purpose of this practice ties in with the next session (a phase of play) which encourages players to be patient out of possession and choose when to press, when to hold. At times realism is sacrificed in order to create some pictures which may emerge in the final part of the session where the players go into a 10 vs. 10 scenario.

This practice can be adapted in a number of ways and Dave will demonstrate progressions and how you can include goalkeepers and strikers if you have enough players to do so.

Part 3: Compact Defending – Phase of Play

In the final part of our Melbourne Victory U20 sessions, UEFA A licensed coach, Dave Wright puts on a 10 vs. 10 phase of play. The theme of the session is defending deep in a 1-4-4-2 vs. a 1-3-5-2. Due to the number of players, the practice is executed in a 1-4-4-1 vs. a 3-5-2 with the goalkeeper playing as a keeper and centre back for the attacking team.

The defensive team are tasked with staying compact and preventing split passes, trying to force play to the outside and work in their units. Dave implements some individual challenges for players on both sides and shares what his key goals for this final part of the session are.

Dave works primarily with the two banks of four players and the goalkeeper on how to step, slide and drop relative to the position of the ball and starts with a couple of key constraints to scaffold the learning and allow the defensive team some success before taking the shackles off and allowing free play.

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