The seventh in our series on the favorite activities of college coaches comes from Colby Hale. Coach Hale is the Associate Head Coach of the University of Central Florida Women’s Team and has attained the NSCAA Premier Diploma. You can find camp information for UCF Women’s Soccer at
The following is his exercise:
Objective: Team defensive shape with a fitness element.

Dimensions: 84 x 40 (assuming a 120 x 80 field). Half the width of the field. Length of the field minus the 2 penalty boxes.

Team organization: 3 teams of 5.

Length of game: 3 minute games.

Equipment: 5 pennies of one color. 10 or more balls.

Team 1 defends while Teams 2 and 3 try and maintain possession of the ball. Team 1 attempts to win as many balls as possible in 3 minutes. A point is earned if A. the attacking team misplays the ball out of bounds or B. the ball is intercepted or cleared by the defensive team. If Team 1 can connect 2 passes once they’ve won it, they win an additional point on that ball. Once the ball is out of bounds or team 1 connects 2 passes, another ball is played into the attacking team (Team 2 & 3) by the coach. A brief break to tally points. Team 2 now becomes the defending team. Teams 1 & 3 will work to keep possession for 3 minutes. The team with the most defensive points at the end of the round wins.

Coaching points-

·Pressuring defender dictating the direction of the play and tempo of attacking team.

·Covering and balancing defenders reading the pressure on the ball to dictate their distance and direction of cover.


·Team cohesion and compactness.

·Transition to relieving pressure once the ball is won.

Game variations for differing ages or skill levels:

-When working with younger teams or teams without good technique make the field smaller and increase the attacker to defender ratio. (example: play 5 teams of 3. 3 players would defend 12 players in a 35 x 18 grid.)

-When working on a specific block of players, manipulate the defensive numbers to simulate a midfield 3 or 4 etc.

-For high level technical players, decrease the number of attacker to defender ratio (example: 5 teams of 3. Teams 1 and 2 (6 players), defend teams 3, 4 and 5 (9 players.)

-To add a stronger transition element, increase the number of passes to gain the bonus point or mandate the necessity for the transitional passes to gain the point at all.


4 responses to “Colby Hale Favorite Activity”

  1. John J Mendoza says:

    Nice. Love how it can be used at each level.

  2. Aron says:

    I have seen a similar exercise where the numbers are even and you see how long it takes to win the ball back. The number of balls won and the amount of time it takes are two great goals for teams to shoot for

  3. Footie4Life says:

    great to work on the communication and support angles of zonal defending as a group of midies and defenders

  4. Kwah says:

    I like that you made it 3 teams of 5 instead of 2. I’ve seen Anson Dorrance do this drill with just 2 teams of 5, and it becomes a man-marking activity. Modern youth players need more work on zonal defending, as most of the colleges they will attend only defend zonally. Any youth coach who still plays with a sweeper and marking backs is doing a serious disservice to his players.

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