How to Teach Marking Up and Covering a Throw-in

Dear Sir:

I need a drill/game that will teach marking up or covering during throw-ins and goal kicks. Can you give me a game to play at practice on Monday?

We are playing a 4V4 game and have just 6 players.

Thank you,

Coach Frank

Hi Frank,

I don't have a game, but I do have a teaching method. I've pasted it below, and some other tips from "Quick Team Improvement Program" on Premium. Play the "Dribble Across A Square" game on SoccerHelp Basic to start every practice (Read "Dribbling -- How To Teach").

Here's Coaching Rules No. 1-3 and how to teach No. 3:

1. "Don't get thrown over" (When the other team has a throw-in). (During the game, be specific when giving instructions. For example, "John, move back 10 steps so you don't get thrown over"). See No. 3 below for the next step.

2. "Don't get goal kicked or punted over" (by the other team). (Be specific if giving instruction. For example, "John, run back to the halfway line"). See No. 3 below for the next step.

3. "On the other team's goal kicks, punts, throw-ins & free kicks, mark up behind an opponent & then step in front & steal the ball, or, if the ball goes past you, box out the opponent and win the ball". (A progression from 1 & 2 above). (An exception to this would be the other team's free kicks near your goal, where if there is room you want have your players stay away from your goal so you create an "offside trap" which will keep the other team away from your goal and make it harder for them to score on a header or off a rebound).

Hi Frank,

I don't have a game, but I do have a teaching method. I've pasted it below, and some other tips from "Quick Team Improvement Program" on Premium. Play the "Dribble Across A Square" game on SoccerHelp Basic to start every practice (Read "Dribbling -- How To Teach").

Here's Coaching Rules No. 1-3 and how to teach No. 3:

1. "Don't get thrown over" (When the other team has a throw-in). (During the game, be specific when giving instructions. For example, "John, move back 10 steps so you don't get thrown over"). See No. 3 below for the next step.

2. "Don't get goal kicked or punted over" (by the other team). (Be specific if giving instruction. For example, "John, run back to the halfway line"). See No. 3 below for the next step.

3. "On the other team's goal kicks, punts, throw-ins & free kicks, mark up behind an opponent & then step in front & steal the ball, or, if the ball goes past you, box out the opponent and win the ball". (A progression from 1 & 2 above). (An exception to this would be the other team's free kicks near your goal, where if there is room you want have your players stay away from your goal so you create an "offside trap" which will keep the other team away from your goal and make it harder for them to score on a header or off a rebound).

1. Teach Coaching Rule # 3, "On the other team's goal kicks, punts, throw-ins, & free kicks, mark up behind an opponent & then step in front & steal the ball, or, if the ball goes past you, box out the opponent and win the ball". (An exception to this would be the other team's free kicks near your goal, where if there is room, you should have your players stay away from your goal so you create an "offside trap" which will keep the other team away from your goal and make it harder for them to score on a header or off a rebound). This can be worth one or 2 goals per game. To teach this and other concepts, you must demonstrate how to do it, using a few players to help while the others watch. To the extent you can, avoid getting into actual play, doing so just seems to be more of a distraction than a help. For example, demonstrate how to "mark up" behind an opponent on the opposing team's throw-in (to "mark up" means to stand closely behind an opponent, who is called your "mark"). Then, demonstrate how: if the ball is thrown to your "mark", you can step in front of him & steal the ball; or, if the ball is thrown over your head, you can "box out" your "mark" so you can beat him to the ball; or, if your "mark" gets the ball, you can try to steal it when he turns. The same tactic applies to Goal Kicks & Punts. (I realize these demonstrations are boring, especially to younger players, but there is no good alternative unless you want to stretch it out over 4 or 5 practices and teach it in small doses). (A list of "Coaching Rules" is found in SoccerHelp Premium).

2. Teach the concept of "First Defender/ Second Defender" (See "Shift & Sag" and "Support" in the Dictionary & Coaching Rules # 5 & 6. Also, see # 4 below for how to teach this while you teach "Shift & Sag"). A comment about First Defender/Second Defender: There is usually only one First Defender. I think it is best if you teach that there should only be one First Defender, and that the second closest defender(s) should be the Second Defender(s); otherwise you may have a problem of too many defenders rushing at the ball and a lack of Second Defenders, which could give your opponent a scoring opportunity (the exception to the idea that there should only be one First Defender is when your opponent gets the ball in your "Attacking Third", in which case double-teaming to try to steal the ball back is a good idea and there is no risk that the opponent will score due to a defensive error). There are often 2 Second Defenders (one behind the First Defender and one to the "goalside", as shown in the diagram at "Shift & Sag" in the Dictionary, or one on each side behind the First Attacker). There is also a concept called "Third Defender". I have found that First Defender/Second Defender is easy to teach, but that the concept of "Third Defender" can be confusing to young players. The reason is that where the Third Defender should position herself depends on whether your team "Pushes Up" on your attack or "Defends Deep". So, my suggestion is to just teach "First Defender/Second Defender" and "Shift & Sag" and avoid using the term "Third Defender". I think "Shift & Sag" is an easier concept to teach than "Third Defenders" and "Shift & Sag" has the effect of putting the players who would be the "Third Defenders" in a good defensive position by teaching your team to stay compact on defense and to "shift & sag" to a position between the ball and the goal, so there are "multiple layers of defenders" (i.e., defensive "depth") between the ball and the goal. In essence, the concepts of "First Defender/Second Defender" and "Shift & Sag" teach "Support" and teamwork.

3. Teach the concept of "Shift & Sag" by putting the players in position (having 2 players in the same "position" is okay for this) & holding a ball in your hands & walking slowly around the field (pretend that you are the opponent with the ball) & have your team "shift" with the ball from side to side, up & back while keeping "shape" & the correct positions relative to each other; have the team shift slowly & look at where they are relative to the ball, to the goal and to teammates, and if they play on the left or right side (e.g., LF, LMF, LFB or RF, RMF, RFB), tell them to not cross the "center" of the field. For example, if the opponent had the ball on the left side of their half of the field, your LF (Left Forward) should be the "First Defender" (see Coaching Rule 5 in SoccerHelp Premium and "Support" in the Dictionary) and the LOMF (Left Offensive MidFielder) should be the "Second Defender" and should be a short pass behind the First Defender (see Coaching Rule 6), the LDMF should be a pass behind the LOMF (as a "Third Defender") and between the ball & the goal, & the LFB should be on the left side of the penalty box line; ALL THE RIGHT SIDE PLAYERS SHOULD HAVE SHIFTED TO THE CENTER OF THE FIELD BUT STOP AT THE CENTER (this is Coaching Rule 19). (These relative positions are shown in the diagram at "Shift & Sag" in the Dictionary). By teaching your players the concepts of First Defender/Second Defender/Third Defender and Coaching Rules 5, 6 and 19, you have good field coverage and your players will have rules to guide their decisions, based on where they are relative to teammates and their positions on the field (e.g., if you are playing on the left side or right side, don't cross the center of the field). When they get better, you can give them more flexibility to make decisions themselves, but if you try to teach them too much at once they will get confused & frustrated, so this is a way of simplifying it. In this exercise someone should always be the First Defender & the next closest should be the Second Defender. This is a teaching exercise, so do it slowly & have the First Defender stay 2 or 3 steps away from you (the objective is NOT to try to steal the ball from the Coach); tell the First Defender that in a game his job is to slow down the attacker & to try to "toe poke" away the ball or steal it if it gets away from the ball handler, but he must not rush at the attacker because he will probably get beat if he does; the First Defender should stay low, on the balls of his feet and to keep his eyes on the ball (see "Shepherding & Jockeying" in SoccerHelp Premium). One thing to remember: As the opponent moves the ball closer to your goal, all of your players do NOT keep sagging back; your F's must stay the distance of a cleared kick away from the ball or your team will not be able to clear the ball off your half of the field because no one will be there to win the balls your FB's and DMF(s) clear. As your team improves, when your goal is under attack you want your FB's & DMF's to defend, but your OMF's to stay a short pass out from the ball & your F's to stay a long kick away from the ball. This is so you can clear the ball from your end of the field; if all your players drop back into the Penalty Box, it will be difficult to get the ball out of your "Defensive Third'.

4. Teach the concepts of "First Attacker/Second Attacker/Third Attacker". Again, demonstrate this on the field at slow speed. These concepts teach offensive support and teamwork. (See "First Attacker" and "Support" in the Dictionary and "Attacking Plan" and "Formations" in SoccerHelp Premium).

5. Teach your Fullbacks ("FB's") how to clear the ball by kicking it hard away from your goal. Practice this & tell them to point their toes down & push the toes against the bottom of the shoe to lock the ankle, keep eyes on the ball, strike the ball low, stand straight up or lean back while striking it (do not lean over the ball or it will stay low), & follow thru. An efficient way to practice this is to pair up players who can kick the ball about the same distance and have them kick it as far as they can to each other. This will also let you see who needs help and who has a good leg.

David
SoccerHelp