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Defending in a 1-3-5-2

Exercise Description:

Area – Half a field. 9v8. An active phase of play. The blue team set up in a 1-3-5, and the reds set up as a 3-2-3. The wing-backs for the blue team are wearing yellow pennies. The opposition red full-backs are holding a yellow and blue cone. They hold up a cone when the ball is played to one of them. If they hold up a yellow cone, the wing-back defends, etc

1. The coach serves the ball to a red. They move the ball back and forth. Once the ball is passed to a full-back, they lift a cone. (1st and 2nd play of the animation) the full-back lifts the yellow cone. This triggers the wing back to close down the full-back. The left or right defender offers cover. (The 3rd attack) the full-back lifts the blue cone. This triggers the center midfielder to react, and then one of the back three steps into the midfield. Once the trigger is set, the game is live. Reds attack the large goal, blues the small goals.

Coaching points:

Awareness. The backline always has numbers up. Communication. Game plan understanding. Defensive slide. The transition from defending to attacking. Stay compact.

Intended outcome:

  • To protect the wing-backs in a 1-3-5-2. Wing-backs can get exploited in the system if we do not have a plan.

  • Game understanding when we are defending.

  • Instill confidence and concede fewer goals with a compact back five.

  • The weak side wing-back understands they must get behind the ball, stay compact.


Remove the cones from the red full-backs. Allow the group to play. Can the blue team figure it out?

Possible Performance Problems:

The wrong player presses at the wrong time.

Transition to attack is slow because the blues are focused so much on defending.

Be ready to focus - Make decisions

Keep scanning the area and visualize playing in a game.

Help the wing-back

Coach your teammates


Applaud good play

Be ready to pass or receive the ball


Be willing to move

Work at game speed

Look for triggers


Make play predictable when defending

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