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Cal South E-News | March 2013 COACHING EDUCATION

March 19, 2013


Featured Lesson Plan: Building Your Team's Defensive Scheme

by Tony DiCicco  | as presented during Soccer Nation Expo 2013's VIP Coach Pass Clinics
NSCAA & former U.S. Women's National Team head coach
DiCicco is the former U.S. Women's National Team head coach who led the team to their historic 1999 FIFA World Cup championship. He guided the U.S. women from 1994 through 1999, collecting a 1996 Olympic gold medal in that run as well. He is the all-time wins leader and most successful coach in U.S. National Team history, with an overall record of 103-8-8. DiCicco served in a variety of positions such as COO, Commissioner and Re-launch Chairman for WUSA from 2000-2004, and since 2009 has served as the head coach for the Boston Breakers of the WPS. In 2008, he coached the US Women's U20 squad to the FIFA U20 World Cup Championship in Chile. DiCicco has worked as a soccer match and studio analyst for ESPN's women's soccer coverage since 2000, and has also served in that aspect for NBC during the Olympics.

1. Individual and Small Group Defending


• Field Size - 30 yds x 25 yds with one large goal and one counter goal. Defenders by the large goal and attackers by the counter goal.


• Individual and small group defending. Alternate 1v1 and 2v2 and build up to adding in a 3v3.

Coaching Points:

• Absorb an attacker running at you and force them to the outside (can be inside when there is a cover player)
• Low center of gravity; staggered stance; eyes on ball only; feet moving with weight slightly forward; establish good pressuring distance.
• Do not allow the 1st attacker to turn whenever possible.
• When defending in small groups or bigger, communicate: "my ball" - "force towards me" - "force outside" - "contain" - "close" - "step" etc.
• When ball is won, turn defense into immediate offense.

2. 3 vs. 3 vs. 3


• In a grid 15x20 yds - 3 vs. 3 vs. 3 (Forward three, Midfield three, and Defensive three)


• Play possession. Defensively, the forward three try to funnel centrally; the midfield three try to funnel centrally or play pressure-cover and avoid being split and the back three play only pressure-cover without being split. When ball is won, play with your teammates and the team that you DID NOT win the ball from.

Coaching Points:

When funneling:

1. Move together as the ball is going from Player A to Player B
2. Once close, eliminate wide options
3. Once wide options are eliminated, close the first attacker and force a predictable pass or mistake


1. Pressure when ball is moving from player to player
2. Do not ball chase, but work in tandem with cover player
3. Make pass predictable or force mistake

3. 5 vs. 5  - 1


• 1/2 field: 44x60 yards. Each team has 5 players.


• Train the midfield (3) to defend in a shape and look for opportunities to win balls and counterattack. Each team has 5 players. However, the team with the ball has all 5 and the team defending can use only 3, with the other 2 players dropping off to a line below the defensive third of of the field. When ball is won, the 3 can counter-attack if its on or they can play back to their keeper or 2 "out of game" players to come forward as a 5, while the defending team drops 2 players.

Coaching Points:

• Communication
• When ball is central, the shape should be a triangle or pie-shaped
• When the ball is wide, the shape in the midfield should be a diagonal
• When the ball is won, a quick decision on whether a counter against the 5 is on or not...if not, then bring in the additional 2.

4. 2 vs. 2 + 1 vs. 2 vs. 2 + 1


• 2 vs. 2 +1 vs. 2 vs. 2 +1 | 2-zone game (4-goal game). Field size - 40x30 yds

Coaching Points:

• Communication
• Good individual defending
• Keep shape, don't chase into teammate's zone... pass players on when possible
• Create instant offense after losing the ball

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