top of page
The role of a defensive midfielder

Exercise description:

Area: 40 x 70 playing area with two teams. Play 6 v 6. 3 v 3 in each attacking zone. The holding midfield player is in a 10 x 40 central zone. The group of 3 v 3 stay in their own half.

Holding midfielders role:

1. (as shown) The defenders attempt to get the ball to the attackers.

2. The defending team and the holding midfield play try to stop this.

3. If the holding midfielder blocks the pass, they start the attacking transition. The attacking team can use the holding midfield player to keep possession.

4. If the ball is switched to the opposite playing zone then the holding midfielder helps the attacking team in possession and attempts to stop the defenders from getting the ball to their attackers.

Coaching points:

Holding midfielders positioning and communication

Intended outcome:

  • To get the whole team to understand the importance of the defensive midfielder.

  • To create problems that will occur in a soccer game and allow the players to figure it out.

  • The use of the defensive midfielder from the attacking team. Keep the ball.

  • The defenders must look at the positioning of the three attackers on their team, so when they win the ball, transition will be quick.


You could add two defensive midfield players.

Possible Performance Problems:

The defending three will not look forward to seeing where their teammates are. Players will just ball-watch.

Players will not use the defensive midfielder and be patient with the attack.

If the GK has the ball, lack of movement will make it hard to play out from the back.

Be ready to focus - Make decisions

Keep scanning the area and visualize playing in a game and anticipate

Accept mistakes - Find solutions

Coach your teammates


Applaud good play

Be ready to pass or receive the ball


Be willing to move laterally

Make the block

Angles of support - Triangulate

1-2 touch mentality

Scan the field

Quality passing

bottom of page