Everyone against the Coach

(Defense, dribbling, shooting)
This is my favorite game for teaching defense. It works great. Also, see my other article on Teaching Defense for a more detailed discussion on this subject, I cover the topic is much greater detail there.

Defense, dribbling and shooting.
Do not allow your players to play this game without shin pads!!!!
Set-up: Place all the kids with a lot of balls on one end of the field. Put yourself, the coach at the other end in front of the net and call out “No one can score on me, I am invincible!” or “No one can score on coach!” Extra balls are helpful.

The Game:
Then the coach defends his goal while all the kids try to score all at the same time. Don’t stand right in the goal, stand about 6 – 10’ in front of it and have them all attack the goal. Make sure they all so it all at the same time.
Make sure that you demonstrate good defensive technique. Stay on your toes, place yourself between their ball and the goal, and kick their ball away to “clear it”, when you get the chance. When you clear it, they have to go chase it and turn it, and come back and try again.
If you have a lot of kids, this can be a lot of fun, and is not as easy as you might think when they are all coming at you at once! Of course, vary your efforts based on player skill level. Let them score, but only some of the time. When you let them score, use a little dramatic flare by looking like you really had to reach for it, but missed it. They think it’s cool to score against coach. By doing this, you are showing them how to play defense while they are practicing dribbling and shooting.
Keep in mind that you are NOT playing goalie, you are not using your hands, and you are NOT standing right in the goal, keep yourself out in front of the net. If they try to defend standing right in the goal, by this point, it is too late to have any real chance of stopping a shot. Their objective is to come forward and steal the ball from an attacker, BEFORE the attacker shoots it at the goal, or to be right in front of the attacker while he is trying to shoot to block the shot at the source, the attacker’s foot.
To play proper defense, they first need to run back towards the goal, get between the goal and the attacker, and then come forward towards the attack to block, steal, or kick it away.
This is defense for a U6 player:

  1. run back to defend
  2. get between the ball and the goal
  3. challenge to block, steal or kick away
  4. It is significantly more complex for older kids, but U6 players can learn to play good defense with the above concepts.

A natural tendency of young players on defense is to chase the player with the ball.
This almost never works!
To play defense, they must run back, PAST the player with the ball towards their own goal, then turn to face the attacker, and come forward to challenge.
All the above is mostly DEMONSTRATION for your kids, but they get to practice dribbling and shooting against you, the coach.
Next, after showing them how you play defense for a while, choose a “Helper.” I have one player join me to help me play defense. I rotate turns as the helper, or even sometimes, have one or two kids defend without a coach. When I have two kids playing defense, then I become an attacker. This is where they learn to play defense, as your helper or on their own.
This game only works if you always have a lot more attackers than defenders and plenty of balls so that attackers always have a ball. You need at least a 4 to 1 attacker to defender ratio, 6 to 1 is better.

Try to use every player as a helper, although, often this isn’t possible due to time.

Be careful about using your oldest and most aggressive players as helpers, because they can be strong and run over your younger players. I try not to use my aggressive players as helpers, because they are naturally good at defense.
This game is more designed to teach the entire team to play defense, with focus on your less aggressive players.
Do not allow your players to play this game without shin pads!!!!
This game has a lot of contact; you are responsible for protecting your players against injury.
This is my main defensive teaching game. It works. See my article on Teaching Defense for a more thorough discussion on how to teach defense.