Concepts and skills of game play when the opponent has possession of the ball.

We have split the Defending Area into 4 categories listed below. An important theme that runs across all of these categories is COMMUNICATION. Players must communicate well in order to form an effective defensive unit. This requires a common set of direct words that your team can use quickly and efficiently under game pressure. Your team should create a list of words with clear meaning, so that coaches and players understand each other.


Pressing/Trap Zones

This section is all about angles and directing the play to a specific area on the field. The Press is the starting point for your team defence. An effective press or defensive shape can control the flow of the game in your favor, especially if you can disrupt the way your opponent is trying to outlet or move the ball.


Defensive Structure

Marking, Zone, Mix

A team may choose to mark, play zone, mark within a zone, or mark in certain lines and zone in other lines. These systems require different skills, but each requires a co-ordinated approach from players, working together to protect dangerous areas and try to dispossess the opponent.



“Speed, Angle, Distance”

In a nutshell, these three words cover the most important factors for a defender to consider when approaching to make a tackle. This applies whether it is a 1-on-1 tackling situation, or if the first defender is looking to bring the ball carrier into a double-team.

Control the attacker’s SPEED

Take the correct ANGLE to approach the attacker

Pressure at an appropriate ENGAGING DISTANCE


Circle Defence

Just as Goalscoring is a key separate category in attacking, so Circle Defence is a key separate category in defending. Defending just outside and inside the circle has some specific challenges because of the small spaces, and the unique nature of the 5m zone between the circle and dashed line (no free hits). Organization and decision-making must be sharp in this area, with consideration that conceding a penalty corner or a shot on goal can be a game-changing event.

[Goalkeepers also play a magnified role in circle defence, a topic which is explored more fully in the Goalkeeping section.]

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