One of my pet peeves in the game is when defenders needlessly kick balls out of bounds to break up an attack (Clear It, Boot It, Big Kick, and other nonsense). I don’t know if that bothers me as much as the praise they get from their coaches (and parents) for doing so. I’d rather see young players lose possession in the defensive third than to kick the ball out of bounds (this may be a tough concept to accept if you are more concerned about winning at a young age than player development). That should be considered an absolute last resort and something that takes time to learn when it is appropriate. Instead too many coaches teach kids to make it their first choice and then never learn when and where the ball actually needs to be put out of play. There is a time to relieve pressure and smack a ball, but not nearly as much as it is used by the majority of youth teams. Defenders must be taught that although they are breaking up an attack, they are also giving the other team possession in the form of a throw in or corner kick so that they may attack you again. The following exercise helps defenders to learn how to play out of pressure, even when facing their own goal. Put three counter goals (4yd.) at the top of the circle using flags or coaching sticks. The team that is working on playing out of pressure fields 11 players (you may use any system¦ in the video I used a 4-5-1). The team that is pressuring them will field 7 players (in the video, I used 2 forwards, 4 midfielders, and 1 defender) and gradually increase their numbers by two’s as the exercise progresses. The team of 11 starts by being about 40 yards compact from top of the circle. The coach is situated by the center counter goal and touches a ball out in front of him or her to start the exercise. The back four and defensive midfielder use the visual cues (touch out from coach’s feet and no pressure on him or her) to determine that a long ball is coming. They immediately begin to drop before the ball is played. This will give them a head start on the pressuring forwards to the ball and may even allow the back four to receive the ball n front of them, as opposed to behind them. It is important that they start high so that they cannot cheat and receive every ball in front of them. The coach hits a long ball to either of the corners and the 7 attempt to pressure, while the 11 attempt to play out of the pressure and score in a counter goal without simply kicking it out of bounds or long down the field. The game continues until a goal is scored or the ball is knocked out of bounds. If the 7 win the ball, they attack the full size goal. Play is always restarted with the coach playing a long ball. The defenders are not the only focus of the exercise. The movement of the midfielders and forward(s) will need to be greatly addressed in order to facilitate successfully playing out of pressure. As the team progresses, add two defenders to make it 11v9 and eventually two more to make it 11v11.


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