Defending Small-Sided Games and Drills Competition

We recently asked coaches to submit their favorite defending drills and small-sided game. We picked one from all the entries as the winner and the coach received a $200 gift certificate to our site. The winner was Gabriel Celante for his Transitional Defending Game. Here’s a look at the game.

Transitional Defending Game
This Transitional Defending Game focuses on developing and practicing defending cooperation, defensive pressure, and specific decision making while defending. This small sided game also focuses on developing transition to build attack and possession in a defensive and offensive zone, anticipation, cognitive abilities such as vision and awareness, and soccer specific endurance.


Divide the field in two halves as showed in
the diagram 1:

One Gk, six Blue players
(offenses) and four White
players (defenses) in the first
One GK and two White players
(defenses) in the second half.

The game is played for set period of time or
until a team reaches a certain score.

The game begins with the Blue team keeping the ball away from White team (6 vs. 4). After making 6 consecutive passes, the Blue team (with the ball under their possession) and two White players move to the second half as showed in the diagram 1. After moving to the second half, the Blue team tries to score as fast as they can while the White team tries to recovery on defense as fast as they can in order to try to protect
their goal and steal the ball from Blue team. (Diagram 2).



Defenders Win the Ball
If the White team wins the ball in the first half, they pass it to their teammates on the other half (Diagram3), start connecting passes, and try to do the same thing the Blue team was doing in the beginning of the game (6 consecutive passes and move to the other half to try to score. (Diagram4)
If the defending team (It can be White or Blue team. It depends who has the ball possession at that moment) wins the ball in the second half, the attacking team starts the game over again from the first half.



Variation 1
6 vs. 4 in the first half and 6 vs. 5 in the second half.

Variation 2
6 vs. 4 in the first half and 6 vs. 6 in the second half.

Variation 3
If the defending team steals the ball, they become attacking team and play a 6 vs. 6 until the ball goes out of play or the defending team regains the ball possession and cross the half-line.

Coaching Points
Team Work (Cooperation)
Defensive and Offensive awareness
Decision Making
Accurate Passes
Transition Quickly (defense to offense and offense to defense)
Recovery Play

Good Defending – The defending team must adjust based on who has the ball, where
players are on the field etc.
Good Attacking – The team in possession should make runs off the ball to create space
for themselves and teammates.

(Gabriel Celante, Soccer Coach and Strength/Conditioning Coach, BRASA – Brazilian Soccer Academy)

Help us spread the word. If you share this article on Facebook, Twitter and Google + we’ll you a PDF copy of another very good defending session. The session is a small-sided game that can be used in small groups or with a full team. It was submitted by Philip Pierce and Tom Martin of James Madison University.


  1. sakheleni nxumalo says:

    Good drill to create very competitive players.

  2. Jerry Conn says:

    awesome drill!!!