Small sided game - Compact Defending

Exercise description:

Area – 40 x 40 (Three zones, two 40x15 areas and central 10x40)

6v6 + 1 link player is played with two mini goals at each end as shown. The zones are marked for the players to reference compact defending.

The coach serves in a ball to the orange attackers.

1. The attackers can go in any zone.

2. The defending blue team must have players in two touching zones.

3. Defenders can also use the ‘line of confrontation’ as they set a defensive mid block behind this line and in two zones.

4. When the defenders win the ball, their mindset changes. They spread out and counter or keep controlled possession and attack the two mini goals.

5. The first attack, blue are compct. The second attack, blues are in all three zones so it is easier for oranges to score.

Coaching points:

Get compact, stay compact. Does the team press high? The first person to press may not win the ball. It's what the players behind the pressing player do that matters.

Intended outcome:

  • To get the whole team to understand the importance of working together.

  • To create problems that will occur in a soccer game and allow the players to stay focused on their defensive shape.

  • Compact defending and working as a team are critical if the team wants to keep a clean sheet.

  • To learn about high or medium press.


Play 7v5 and have the team of seven attack five times. See if they can break through a compact defensive five.

Technical / Tactical:

  • Stay in two connecting zones

  • Get compact, stay compact.

  • Force the play a certain way. Either towards a teammate or to the side lines.

  • Win th eball and quickly counter.

  • Communication and encouragement


  • Be ready to interact with teammates.

  • Communicate.

  • Applaud good play and work ethic from teammates.

  • Offer help if you understand the exercise

  • Have fun!


  • Always work at game speed

  • Be ready to explode into space after the ball is won

  • Move into a compact shape quickly.


  • Be ready to focus

  • Embrace failure.

  • Remember the instructions of the exercise. 

  • Decision-making can only happen if we are open to finding answers.

  • Visualize playing in a game

  • Self belief

Possible Performance Problems:

Players not working as a defensive unit. Slow reactions in the transition.