Indian River Soccer Academy Est. 1986
Vero Beach FL
IRSA Session Plan 1
Introduction to Zonal Defending
This session outlines the very basic fundamental approach to Zonal Defending. Zonal Defending can be described as having responsibilities depending on what ZONE the ball or opponent move in and out of. Defensive players can share the workload as they defend as units rather than just as individuals. Zonal Defending does in no way remove the importance of individual defending techniques, in fact it may emphasize them more so as each player must execute his or her role effectively.
For the purpose of helping players understand some of the distances and areas of responsibility we have divided the playing field into channels or ZONES. Once players have displayed a level of understanding (spacial awareness etc) we can remove the zone markings and allow players to play in a more free space.
Video Clip 1: Basic Defensive arrangements
This short clip highlights two basic defensive arrangements in relation to the balls location on the field of play. The first will show the ARROW-HEAD shape when the ball in positioned centrally and the second will focus on the CHECK-MARK shape when the ball is in a wide area of the field.
Video Clip 2: Stopping Forward Play
The below clip shows how we can add two target players (forwards) for the team in possession to find with a penetrating pass. The defensive team must slide and screen (paying particular attention to the shapes developed in clip 1). If the forwards manage to receive the pass they must first combine before attempting to score in the mini-goals. This combination between forwards allows the defensive team to work on recovery runs to stop the goal being scored.
If the defensive team win back possession with an interception the roles of the two teams quickly reverse (transition).
Video Clip 3: Introducing a second line (central midfield players).
In the below video clip we can see that the BLUE team has two central midfield players to create a second line. Notice how the two central midfield players screen forward passes into the RED striker but also work as a unit in the central areas. When the ball is played wide the two central players slide to the ball side to stop forward play and protect the back 4.
If the defensive team win back possession within their short and tight arrangement they are encouraged to expand from their compact shape and build patterns of play to score in the two mini-goals.
Progression: Once the ball is won the RED team can now look to counter press and win the ball back as the BLUE team look to play through the press and score.
The GREEN (neutral players) can play for both teams and are encouraged to combine with fullbacks in positional play rotations when in attack.