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Cal South E-News | September 2011 COACHING EDUCATION

September 22, 2011


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Decisive Defending

By Owen Coyle | Manager, Bolton Wanderers [English Premier League]

This is a purely defensive session in which we structure the back four against opposing attacks with different formations. It is an excellent session when preparing for matchday. It is game realistic and enables us to prepare for the forthcoming opposition's formation by practicing against two or three forwards, or a lone frontman.

When I joined Bolton in January 2010 we had no shut outs in the Premier League. We specifically worked on this session in training and went on to record five shut outs in the remainder of the season which resulted in a positive finish, keeping us in the Premier League.

To run this session, you require the following:

• Half a pitch
• A goal
• Balls
• 12 players. 6 attackers (4 midfielders and 2 forwards). 5 defenders (2 centre-backs, 2 full-backs and 1 defensive midfielder). 1 goalkeeper.

What do I get the players to do?

We play 6v5 in the attackers' favour. The number of players can be altered depending on specific team formations, but at Bolton we work on a back four, adding in one defensive midfielder to make five defensive players. Serve a ball to any of the attacking players. Defenders approach and tackle, attempting to win possession. When possession is gained, either a point is won automatically, or the defender has to play the ball between two poles placed four metres apart on either side of the pitch. The ball then goes back to the coach.

How do I progress the session?

If defenders are increasingly winning the ball, they need to be encouraged to take it to halfway, keeping possession. If they are intercepted though, the game remains live. Repetition of this session allows players to build confidence and gain a clear understanding of their role.

How would you put this into a game situation?

Add more players, for example 7v5 or 8v6, building up to 11v11 when working on full team shape.

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