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Back 4 Zonal Positioning

Football Back 4 Zonal Coaching Exercise

Objective(s)
Organization

1) Coach how to shift the defending block.
2) Coach team how to compact the field.
3) Coach defending deep.

• 1/2 Field (Approx 60x50 yrds) (30-40 mins).  Field split into 2 zones horizontally and 2 vertically. Age: 14-Adult. 14 Players. (+2GK for Progressions).  1 Full size goal and 2 smaller gate goals:  

Formations & Set-Up

1. 7 players (Red) +GK (4-1-2 Formation).  6 Blue Players (4-2 Formation).
2. Balls positioned next to Red teams goal.
3. Start Position from the Red GK.  Can be varied as desired.
4. Coach positoned by the Blue back line to provide coaching instruction.
5. An assistant coach could be used for offsides.

Instructions

Player Roles

• Back 4 play zonally and slide as a block.  Usually a CB or GK will direct the movement.  The weak side defender (the defender furthest away from the ball) should pinch in to maintain the compactness on the strong side. Leave the space wide on the weak side.
• Front 2 should play together and not become isolated when defending.  Work to make play predictable and prevent simple forward passes to the opponents forwards.
• The attacking team should look to challenge the defending team by quick ball movement and switches of play.

• Game starts when the Red GK distributes the ball out to the red back 4.  They maintain possession and attempt to score on the large goal.  The Blue back 4 are not allowed out of the Back 4 Zone.  The two blue forwards are free to move where they choose.  The whole Red team is also allowed to move where they desire.  Blue back 4 attempt to protect the small gate goals by all sliding to the strong side (getting the whole back 4 in the same half as the ball in the defending phase).  Use the vertical coned line as a guide.

Scoring
• The Red (Attacking Team) scores in the small gate goals.  The Blue (Defending Team) scores in the full size goal.

Progressions
• Replace the small gate goals with full size goals and 2 GKs.
• Remove the Double goals and add a single for the SSG.
• Play 2 touch in the defending half.

• Full size game (using a training line if needed).

Coaching Points
1) Communication to move as a unit.
2) React to the ball position as the ball moves.
3) Front 2 stay compact.
4) Attacking team should look to switch to challenge the blocks movement.
5) Look to play deep and tight (10-15yrds between defenders.
6) In the final SSG, be aware of off-sides.
7) Stay compact at all times when defending.
Diagram 2 - Set-Up
• Attacking (Red) Team play a 4-1-2 formation and are free to move into either half and the 'Back 4 Zone'.
Diagram 3 - Maintaining Spacing
• When defending as a block (zonal defending) the spacing must remain fairly compact.  Here we are using a zonal back 4.
Diagram 4 - Defending Block Slides
• It is important that that back 4 travel and move together, especially when adjusting to balls in wide areas and switches of play.  Attempt to get all the blue defenders in the same vertical half as the ball, when not in possession.
Diagram 5 - Progression: 2 Full Size Goals
• 2 Full size goals are added in place of the small gate (Pugg Goals).  2GKs for the Blue team are added also.
Diagram 6 - Progression: 8vs8 SSG
• Finish with a small sided game 8vs8 (half field).  The vertical line is left in as a training aid and can be used by the coach if the training topic doesnt happen naturally.
Variations
Increase the size of the field to allow players more space and time. The final 8vs8 can be set-up to go from 18yrd box to 18yrd box.  Players can be asked to take mandatory 2 touches in the early stages of this session to allow the defending team time to slide to protect the strong side.
Notes & Observations
This exercise forces the team to slide to extreme measures for teaching purposes.  The field can also be split into 3rds to allow less extreme sliding if needed.  Defending two gate goals in the first part of the practice forces good active defending!
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