A couple of days ago, I posted this post about a foosball game for training the back line. At camp today, we were trying to find a non-contact game for training first and second defenders and so I modified the foosball game. I’ve included an illustration below but it’s the same as the original, albeit with half the players. See the progressions and coaching points for things we saw as different groups went through it.
- The full grid we used was maybe 12 yards wide by 20 yards long, i.e. each channel was 5 yards long (slightly different from the illustration above, partly because we were on a football-lined field).
- The 5 yard depth was a good one; I wouldn’t want to go any deeper than 7 or 8 yards per channel.
- The 12 yard width was interesting. With the high-intensity, varsity captains playing, we probably should have widened it. They were pinging the ball quickly enough that they stayed too vertical; some more width would have allowed them more room to open things up. With the weaker, freshmen group, the 12 yards was a bit too wide. They weren’t / couldn’t adjust(ing) fast enough to defend efficiently enough.
- The emphasis was on shifting up and back on defense (and this is where it departs a bit from the original), i.e. the defender facing the ball had to quickly pressure the ball (in his channel) to cut down the passing angle, while the second defender had to provide cover, both the passing lane and the other player.
- The second defender proved the most problematic for the players. The defenders tended to ‘mark’ the second player, i.e. line up opposite them but dropped off, which left to much diagonal space between the defenders for a through pass.
- When the defense moved quickly and decisively, it became more difficult for passes to make it through.
- The offense, also, tended to stay static / vertical without a lot of horizontal movement. I, of course, would have liked to see more horizontal movement but, certainly at the higher levels, the lack of horizontal movement was for a good reason, because they were moving the ball so quickly.
- I considered how to keep things moving; I was worried about it bogging down. Here are some of the things we did:
- No restrictions on touches but 4th pass had to be through to other team (pass can be made before 4th as well).
- We added the proviso that, if the ball stops moving, possession switches. This seemed better than restricting touches.
- We also added what I call the ‘ultimate frisbee’ rule, i.e. any contact with the ball by a defender changes possession.
Overall, though, this worked well for focusing on defending, especially the different (and shifting) roles of 1st and 2nd defenders.