In this video and tactical analysis we explore the topic of Defending In and Around the Penalty Area in the 9 v 9 game format. Here we break down some of the key points:

Our formation is a GK-3-3-2

  1. Blocks, tackles and interceptions
  2. Tracking runs
  3. Clearances

Scenario #1 – Dealing With Crosses

  • Look to move as the cross is delivered.
  • Adopt an open body shape – see the ball, see the man.
  • Midfielders need to track runs (near and far post).
  • Defenders should provide space for the Goalkeeper to come and claim the ball if required.
  • Any clearance should have height, depth and width.
  • Ideally, the clearance should be into the same area from which the cross came as we are already set to deal with it from that side and slide across to compact play.
  • As the ball is cleared, we look to push up as a collective, to again provide the Goalkeeper with space and to also leave opposition players in an offside position.

Scenario #2 – Dealing With Cutbacks

  • The Goalkeeper needs to protect the near post so as not to be caught out with a shot to that area. His blocking leg should cover the post.
  • Our defenders should look to guard the central part of the goal and be in a position to make a goal-line clearance if needed.
  • Midfielders again need to be aware of tracking opponent’s runs (near and far post).
  • Defenders need to adopt an open body shape with a split stance allowing them to be in position to rush out and block any shot after the cut back.
  • They need to provide a big barrier and be front facing the player looking to shoot.
  • If the cross is stood up to the back post, we look to try and get any positive contact on the ball and even a flicked header clearance gets the ball away from goal giving us an opportunity to re-adjust positionally.

Scenario #3 – Defending Centrally

  • Our horizontal distance between our defenders needs to be around the width of the goal.
  • Players need to adopt big defensive body shape barrier to block shots.
  • Eyes on the ball when in close proximity to the player in possession.
  • If being dribbled towards, try to retreat with small steps at a pace slightly less than the dribbling player.
  • If the ball is passed backwards slightly, look to shift and step up.
  • When blocking shots from slight angles, use the opposite leg from which the opponent is striking the ball. This prevents our defender from turning their back and becoming off balance.

Main Principles:

  1. Clearances – height, depth and width
  2. Big barriers to block shoots
  3. Pressing – look to shut down, slow down and sit down


  • Nearest players to ball, always look to press and block efforts at goal
  • Those further from the ball, track opponent’s runs
  • Give the Goalkeeper space in which to claim the ball when it is being crossed from a wide position.
  • As the ball is cleared from crosses, cut-backs or central efforts at goal, always push up as a team to leave opponent’s in offside positions.