The 2v2 situation is the smallest form of teamwork in the game of soccer, but remains one of the most important situations for a player to master no matter what their level of play. A coach must recognize that defensive success is first and foremost based on quality 1 vs. 1 defending. Getting pressure on the player with the ball is vital if the rest of the team is to carry out their defensive responsibilities. Only when this pressure takes place can the remainder of the players get “compact” and take away space from the attacking team. Assuming that proper pressure to the ball is exhibited, now the role, responsibilities and positioning of the 2nd defender becomes important.
Considerations for the 2nd defender:
- The 2nd defender or “covering defender” should position himself in a way that he can pressure the ball if the 1st defender is beaten on the dribble, but remain in a position that he can “close the space” on the 2nd attacker if the player on the ball chooses to pass.
- The 2nd defender must communicate with the player pressuring the ball (the 1st defender). Simple and concise instruction is vital! Force right, Force left, Contain are all good examples of communication from the 2nd defender.
- The distance between the 1st and 2nd defender is of the utmost importance. The 2nd defender mustn’t get too close to the 1st defender. He should never position himself in a way that the 1st attacker can beat both the 1st and 2nd defender in the same movement. However the 2nd defender must not be too far away from the 1st defender. This will leave the 1st defender isolated and actually create a 1v1 situation.
- The 1st and 2nd defenders must be prepared to reverse roles regularly when the ball is passed. It is important that both players are on the same page of when to reverse roles and don’t get caught chasing the ball.
The roles and understanding of the 1st and 2nd defenders responsibilities can only become cohesive through repetition. The best way to provide these opportunities is through small sided games where players are constantly confronted with opportunities to be the 1st defender (pressuring) and 2nd defender (covering).
Next we’ll look at a few visuals of incorrect and correct positioning between the 1st and 2nd attacker. I have chosen to keep the visuals in a 2v2 setting to simplify the concepts, but the same principles apply all the way up to the 11 v11 game.
Download the visuals: 2v2 Defending Pressure Cover