How to teach Pressure-Cover-Balance

Discussion in 'Coach' started by elessar78, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    The other thread is harping on this idea of teaching "pressure-cover-balance" a lot. I don't know if I'm the right guy for the job but I just want to share some ideas to teach it. It's probably the single simplest thing, even for a novice to learn because it doesn't require ball skills. Maybe tackling, but that's another thing. I don't mean for this to be condescending but it's what I wish someone pointed out when I started.

    Teach this in phases:

    Defending starts the moment you lose the ball.

    PRESSURE: Player closest to the ball (also called "1st defender" approaches ball carrier in a controlled manner.

    Coaching points:
    • help players identify the moment they lose the ball and the proper response to it (player closest to ball approaches in a controlled manner). There are more nuances on how to approach the ball carrier but this is the first part.
    • "1st defender" doesn't have to win the ball back. He just has to slow down the other team so his teammates can complete their roles in the "Pressure-Cover-Balance" scheme

    COVER: Call for backup. 2nd player "2nd Defender" closest to the ball slides in a couple of yards behind the "1st Defender" (ideally at a 45° angle). This person's job is to anticipate "1st Defender" getting beat and be there to steal the ball away.

    Most dribblers are taught to push the ball/explode past the defender. The 2nd defender should know this and be ready to jump on the ball when it's pushed past the "1st Defender"

    coaching points:
    • be on your toes

    BALANCE: Every other player should drop back behind the 1st and 2nd Defender and protect the front of goal and mark opposing players.

    coaching points:
    • Ball watching is a sin. Most young kids playing defense lock in on the ball and become unaware of everything else around them. Teach them to scan the field: locate the ball, locate an opponent. Stay goal side of that opponent.

    -----

    Q: What if the "1st Defender" gets beat?
    A: The "2nd Defender" now becomes the "1st Defender" and the next player becomes the "2nd Defender" and so forth.
    1 person likes this.


  2. amikavpar

    amikavpar Member

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    Thanks for the explanation. What age appropriate activities would be a good way to introduce this to U8 players. During our 1v1 games, I encouraged the defender to slow the offensive player down by staying in front and not running up and swinging wildly at the ball. It really slowed things down and the offensive players really had to try to use their dribbling skills to get by. It was a win/win.

    I guess, what I'm trying to ask is, when we go 2v2 do you think U8 players would understand cover or more precisely would they cover during that activity? If not, what activity would be a good way to get that across to them. Likewise, the same question for balance.

    Thanks, I think this is an area I really have to improve upon as a coach.
  3. strike

    strike New Member

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    "What age appropriate activities would be a good way to introduce this to U8 players?"

    3 v 2. Pressure cover on first attacker and balance on the 2nd. Lots of defensive success here, which keep it D focused.

    Also, one activity I enjoy is 5X30 yard grid (narrow) with three sections. The defender passes the ball down the alley to the attacker, who must try to dribble past defender. If the defender takes ball in first section, 3 points, second section, 2 points, last section, 1 point. Focus on defenders tactical work, staying side on, pressuring attacker to dribble out of grid. Some I believe call this, push out the trash, or something like that.

    Good luck.
  4. strike

    strike New Member

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    Just to reiterate. 3v2, not 2v2 here. This integrates balance and gives D the better hope of success. 2v2 isn't focused on D.


  5. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

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    If someone can teach pressure, cover, and balance, their team instantly becomes much better defensively. You can defend with more players, and have more "two-way" players in your team.
  6. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

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    Just a couple of pet peeves and ideas...

    I don't think it has to be a controlled manner. This is more individual philosophy of defending than PCB.


    Again, sometimes, the 1st defender _has_ to win the ball. When explaining PCB, I wouldn't say that this is the only way it should be done.


    It's not a 45° angle. It is between the ball and the goal (or destination). You have to stop the 1st attacker from getting where he wants to go. Sometimes, that won't be at a 45° from the 1st defender.

    Also, the distance between 1st and 2nd defender varies based on the area of field, speed of 1st attacker, and other things. A couple (~2) is probably too small for anything other than U-littles. Some professional teams say 6-8 yards, but I don't think you can put a number on it.


    I suppose we could say that they don't have to be behind the ball, but that's not necessarily a bad rule in balance. If you're ahead of the ball, you're likely to get caught out of the play when the 1st defender is breached.
  7. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

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    This might not be understood by most, but another thing to consider is that a team may want to play with multiple levels of cover.

    You don't always see P - C - B or P - C - B - B. You might see P - C - C - B.
  8. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    As always, TwentySix, makes good points.

    Pressure: It is a personal philosophy. I say "approach in a controlled manner" because I see too many kids run kamikaze at that ball carrier and get beat by a simple touch to the side. Also, distance from the goal you are defending matters too. In opponents half, you might just shadow/delay the ball carrier and wait for him to make a mistake.

    Another coaching point I like to make to the first defender is to force the dribbler to go a certain direction. Force wide or force inside, it's a matter of philosophy, but this is so the 2nd Defender can better anticipate where a play might go.

    1st Defender should try to take away the ball if it's a gimme. If it's not, let the concept of team defending/defending as a group work it's magic.

    Cover: Yes, it's not always a "couple" of yards. I needed to be more precise with my language. The further away you are from the goal you are defending the more "cushion" the second defender and all other defenders can give. The idea being that you protect your goal and not just space.

    Balance: I just wanted to put this in the most basic ideas of PCB.

    And the angle isn't always 45°, I guess that was just a starting point for me. Much easier with a diagram.

    Ultimately, PCB is about making the attack more predictable for your defenders.

    As strike said, and as how I teach this, is usually in a 2 (attackers) v 3 (defenders) format in a 30x30 grid with goals, because I have all three components. And the balance has to defend someone, not just abstract space.

    As a coach, less numbers also makes it easier to spot the breakdowns in PCB and correct them.

    Sometimes if they are not getting it, I use a mnemonic "A-B-C" ... it's sequential and simple. A: Approach/Attack the ball, B: Back-up, C: Cover the front of goal (I know, it's a little off concept but for U-littles it's an easier concept for them. I have them call out their role as the ball approaches. "I'm A!" or "B!"
  9. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

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    I like the 2v3 unbalanced activity, and I love the mnemonic "ABC".
  10. amikavpar

    amikavpar Member

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    Ok, when I set up the 30x30 grid with goals. What is the objective for the defensive 3, to win the ball? Do I reset after they win the ball or allow them to proceed and advance the ball with a 3v2 advantage to a goal? I'm sure there are a many options, curious to know what works for you.
  11. strike

    strike New Member

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    If you are teaching defense, then stay focused. Do not let the defense score after recovering the ball. After they win the ball, you end the drill, switch the boys around and reset so others can try to succeed in the same drill. You will be tempted to let them go score, but they will lose focus of the objective. Once they win the ball and you stop, you can explain why it was successful or not successful as the boys rotate.

    For what it's worth, this is the USSF standard for focused drills, not deviating from the lesson.
  12. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

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    Actually, according to the USSF standard, you should have them making some sort of outlet play - either a pass to a target or a small goal.

    Stopping play as soon as the ball is won limits their ability to transition into attack - which is a small part of what/why you're trying to do by teaching them PCB.
  13. strike

    strike New Member

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    Sorry guys, I clearly had a brain fart. 26 is right, and in fact I do have my boys try to clear it across the end line in the opposite direction or pass back to me. I think I was just locked into not wanting you to have the kids go score. My bad :D
  14. BillyGates

    BillyGates Member

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    First of all, thanks for starting this thread! After getting blown out by a 10 goal margin in the first 2 games I worked on PCB for 2 practices this week for my U12 Rec boys, so I'll know in a couple of hours how that worked out!

    A few other things:

    For Balance : I'm consistently trying to teach the concept of all other players being 'goal-side' of the other team. I've been using the terms 'covering other players' (don't cover grass... grass never scored :) ) and 'getting goal-side' for a couple of years but my rec kids really struggle with learning the concept, so if someone has better terms/techniques I'm open to something else! (I like the ABC! Thanks!)

    How to cover/get goalside:
    I found it best to try and teach basic get back/goalside technique by a drill I recall another (better coach than me :) ) running that had 2 lines at mid-field, 1 Forwards, 1 Defense. Forwards near the sideline. They would run down to a cone at the corner of the 18-yard box, around that cone to a cone in middle of the 18-yard box that toward the goal. The defender wants to get goalside of the forward and stay within an arm-length of the forward. Do this for about ~5 minutes without any balls the first time, then add a ball for the forward and say the defender has to stay goalside but can't kick the ball away. This hopefully avoids the 'kamikazee' kicks... Finally progress this drill to have the defender just 'poke' at the ball at a good time.

    Drills:
    Regarding defending drills like 2Fv3D or 3Fv5D, I sometimes like putting little Pugg-type goals near the sidelines of mid-field and get the defenders to pass/shoot it to that area, to hopefully avoid the clearing up the middle in your own end.

    Regarding Covering: I'm open to any suggestions of how close someone should cover when it's 2Fv3D about mid-way from the 18-yard box to midfield. 3-5 yards? It's a tough concept with the kids when their constantly being yelled at to play their position, 'don't bunch up' and 'spread out' by most of the parents.

    Thanks for all the great tips! :)
  15. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

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    At midfield, for U12 boys, I would say anywhere between 5 and 8 yards. It changes relative to the speed and ability of their 1st attacker and your 1st defender.
  16. BillyGates

    BillyGates Member

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    Thanks! After 1 week (2 practices) of P-C-B we had a way better result instead of losing like our first 2 games by 10 goals, we only lost by 1... 5-4... and we were winning 4-2!

    The last 5 minutes the other team scored 3 goals as we got tired a broke down into our old ways, but this was an amazing improvement.

    I think I really need to work on how to play 4-5-1 if we get a lead.

    Thanks for the distance recommendation! :)
  17. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    BG, THAT'S AWESOME!

    Those close, late losses are tough but I think it's one of the best motivators.

    Curious since you guys scored 4. . .a byproduct of PCB is that it lets your players transition into the attack much easier. Did you feel that as the case?

    Also, how were the first two against you scored?
  18. BillyGates

    BillyGates Member

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    Well part of the PCB (in my mind) is having my best 2 players in CM instead of 1 CM and the other CF. I have 1 guy (see other threads) that doesn't want to pass and wants to dribble through the whole team and usually succeeds for a few players. The first couple games I played him up top, because he was successful up with scoring... but I'm trying to change him into a CM as that's the best for the team. (Flame away guys how I'm denying the guy from being the next Ronaldo :)) there...

    We were up 3-1 at the half and I made the mistake of starting him in Forward, and could never get him back to mid again (Geesh I wish this was like Basketball and you could call timeouts! :) )... I subbed someone else up forward and told him to play back, but he kept playing forward... oh well.

    I thought for next practice, I'm going to ask all the players, by a show of hands:

    "Would you would rather win a game 3-2, or lose 6-7?" But you get to score 6 goals!

    If the players would rather win (which we haven't done yet this year... 0-3, and went 0-for last year with a different coach) hopefully that may instill some defensive minded-ness in the mid-fielders if we get a lead.

    So to answer the question, yes I think playing PCB the first half helped keep my good players (in midfield) back and the play in front of them... the first couple goals were pretty weak... as we don't really have a solid goalkeeper either. :(
  19. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Congratulations. Two comments. 1. "Recover" (as in recovery runs) is a different concept from "cover" although they are related defensive terms. 2. Don't get sidetracked by the success in teaching defensive principles. Keep spending most of your time on attacking and ball skills. Defensive skills will still get a workout during small sided games.
  20. equus

    equus Member

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    I dig the A-B-C. I'm going to use that! Thanks!
  21. uniteo

    uniteo Member+

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    One addition to points of emphasis that I didn't notice here

    In order for the 2nd and subsequent defenders to take up good positions the 1st defender has to force the attacking play to move in one direction...whether in or out depends on field position and your preference but it has to be somewhere and I try to get players to make the direction they are forcing the player obvious in their initial move to the ball...

    Running straight at the attacker gives an attacking player the opportunity to cut either way and the 2nd defender's only option is to come in behind the 1st defender and wait for the attacking player's move or guess and hope he's right.
  22. equus

    equus Member

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    I used the A-B-C method for P-C-B yesterday in practice with my U10s.

    They were playing a 4v4 small-sided and naturally got into a PCB situation while defending once, so I froze it there and showed them who was A, B, C. I told them "defending was as easy as ABC!" Within a minute they all knew what each letter meant and what role it was. Easy to understand. It was great!
  23. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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  24. strike

    strike New Member

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    Alright, practice is in an hour, I'll give this ABC thing a try instead of my usual PCB which usually goes out the other ear ;)
  25. BillyGates

    BillyGates Member

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    Depending on the age (I'd probably start this around U10), I like putting little 'Pugg' type nets one near each sideline near mid-field to get the defense to try and clear/score into the Pugg's to try and teach clearing up the side...

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