Championship Defending – Teaching Zonal Defending Movement to Two Backs

By Jeff Tipping, UEFA A License, USSF A License, Former NSCAA Director of Coaching Education

The following is an excerpt from Jeff’s book, “Drills and Exercises to Develop the Elite American Soccer Player©.” Get the full book.


This is the heart and soul of zonal defending. Two defenders play against one attacking player. It is a critical stage of teaching zonal defending because, here, the two defending players must verbally communicate with each other, learn to read the movement of the ball, the movement of the forward and the movement of the team mate. The two supporting servers pass the ball laterally and the defending pair pass the attacking player off so that the attacking player is, always, in their peripheral vision. They move up together and they move forwards, backwards and side to side together. When one goes to intercept the ball there must be verbal communication which alerts the second defender to the role they must adopt. This is a MUST do exercise for all coaches teaching zonal defending.

zonal defending movements

Get More Defending Drills, The Da Vinci Coach Skill Set and much more in Jeff Tipping’s book, “Drills and Exercises to Develop the Elite American Soccer Player©.” Get the full book.