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Defensive rehearsal.

Fabio Capello, the current manager of the English National team, has a long history of winning, capturing seven championships in Italy and Spain. He has coached at Roma, Madrid, Milan, and Juventus. And he once led AC Milan to a run of 58 games without a loss.

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Capello is known for his tough, hard nosed defense. Many training sessions deal with defense only. The following is a defensive rehearsal that he has used at many of the clubs he coached. It is a session to be used the day before a game to work on the team defensive shape, slides, and defensive communication.

Make this part of your pre-game preparation.

ORGANIZATION:

* The first team, back four set up in the team defensive shape in the 18 yard box.

* The second four wear bibs and spread out in front of the back four in a semicircle.

* The coach is in the center circle with a supply of balls.

* After putting the four starters through the entire sequence, the roles are reversed and the second unit goes through the entire sequence.

VARIATION I: SEE DIAGRAMS

I, 2, AND 3

* The ball is moved from numbered player to numbered player in front of the defenders.

* The defenders are in the defensive shape.

* The defenders "slide" each time the ball moves with the player in front of the ball moving toward the ball and the adjacent players sliding into a support position.

VARIATION 2: SEE DIAGRAMS 4, 5, AND 6

* The set up is the same as above.

* As the ball moves, an attacking player (numbered) will dribble at the defense.

* The near defender steps up to challenge and attacks the dribbling foot.

* The adjacent defender(s) slide to the support position.

* The attacker spins away and plays the ball back to a teammate and the sequence starts again.

VARIATION 3: SEE DIAGRAMS 7 AND 8

* The set up is the same as above.

* Two attackers push up on the defenders.

* The remaining attackers drive the ball back and forth.

* The defenders slide to the ball but must watch the two forward players.

* Without warning, the ball is clipped behind the defenders with the two front runners running into the 18 yard box.

* Communication must develop between the defenders and the keeper to clear the ball.

VARIATION 4: SEE DIAGRAMS 9 AND 10

* The set up is the same as above.

* Three attackers push up on the defenders.

* The coach and the fourth attacker take turns serving the ball.

* The ball should be served with back spin to the head of the middle attacker.

* The middle attacker will try to "flick the ball on" to the other two attackers who run into the box.

* As a variation of this, the ball can be played to feet of the middle attacker who turns and tries to combine with the other two attackers to get behind the defenders.

VARIATION 5: SEE DIAGRAMS II AND 12

* Three attackers push up on the four defenders.

* The coach and a fourth attacker alternate serving the ball (in a dead ball situation) into the box for the defenders and the goalkeeper to clear.

* Defenders should stand with shoulders parallel to the goal so they see both man and ball.

* Attack the ball and be first.

The roles were reversed and the second team went through the progression.

COACHING POINTS:

* Stay in the defensive shape.

* Defenders should not cross in front of each other.

* Defenders move as a group every time the ball moves.

* Defenders should support each other. There should never be a 1 v 1 situation.

* Defenders off the ball must be alert especially when teams combine or flick the ball on--it is the defender off the ball that has the toughest role.

* Communicate at all times.

By Jay Martin, Editor, NSCAA Soccer Journal Head Men's Soccer Coach, Ohio Wesleyan University Delaware, OH
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Title Annotation:SOCCER
Author:Martin, Jay
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2008
Words:646
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