Swoosh Defense! Can Young Players Learn the Flat Back Four Zone Defense?

I was recently questioned, “Mentor Hardy, why are you coaching youth soccer teams
to enjoy a flat back again four zone defense?” The perception being that a sweeper/
stopper method is a ‘safer’ protection for youthful groups. Very first of all, any protection
will have its strengths and weaknesses. A experienced mentor will know people
weaknesses and will motivate their crew to crack it down. All disclaimers
apart, the flat back four is the most popular procedure of most fashionable teams. A
youth soccer mentor need to emphasize the improvement of gamers in the
context of modern-day soccer.

When adequately executed, a flat again 4 will supply fantastic
defensive strain, include and stability. Youthful soccer players should really be
designed to participate in at their greatest opportunity stage and just about all greater level
groups engage in a flat four or three procedure. Coaching a flat back again 4 protection gives
gamers a basis for upcoming good results in soccer. Even a workforce as younger as U11
group can correctly perform a flat back again 4 zone protection. A team may perhaps give up
‘break-away’ ambitions in the quick expression, when they understand the program, but in the
long operate they will have the potential to confidently phase into a present day defensive

A crew can productively play a flat again four right after just a several schooling
periods and a handful of games. I use the pre-season tactics, tournaments
and scrimmages as a time for a workforce to understand the player roles and workforce form
of a flat again four zone defense.

To assistance gamers visually realize the crew condition of the protection I
simply call it the ‘Swoosh’ defense. As the again 4 defenders shift still left and proper
throughout the industry, the form of the defense device appears to be like like the Nike “Swoosh”
brand. If the players drift out of form I can just say “Swoosh” and immediately
the gamers know where by to placement by themselves. As the gamers come to feel comfortable
with the process they will remind every other to “Swoosh”. In this article are 4 primary
suggestions to be knowledgeable of when coaching the Swoosh defense.

1. Swoosh Defense

The back 4 defensive form will avert the other crew from possessing
‘break absent chances’ by creating guaranteed the much-facet outside defender and the
significantly-side central defender change and go over diagonally driving the pressuring
near-side defenders. It appears difficult but it is really in fact pretty uncomplicated. The
defenders change diagonally to the situation of the ball.

With this accurate positioning the ‘Swoosh’ protection is denying ball
penetration, the hazardous attacking players are marked and the masking
defenders will ‘sweep’ any ball that will get performed by. If the ball is switched
to the much facet of the subject, the defending four players will shift the ‘Swoosh’
accordingly. I have located that younger gamers can easily remember to ‘Swoosh!’
a lot more that ‘Pressure, Deal with, Balance’.

It is essential for players to bear in mind that the diagonal address form
is why the team doesn’t will need a sweeper. The most widespread defensive error
is for the staff to stand entirely ‘flat’. This is specifically popular at the 50 percent-area
line when the staff with the ball has been preserving possession in the
opponent’s fifty percent of the area. Which explains why teams that are mastering the
Swoosh protection will typically give up their objectives from half-discipline breakaways.

If the defenders stand flat at 50 percent industry then any ball performed driving the
protection will end result in a breakaway race with no any individual to stop a aim but the

2. Marking A Gentleman In Your Zone

In addition to the Swoosh condition, the four defenders need to develop into
conscious of the attacking participant in their area of responsibility. Youthful players
usually emphasis all of their attention on the ball. This bad habit is referred to as ‘ball
watching’. Youthful players will typically ball watch right up until the ball arrives around them
and only then will they test and get it. But acquiring the ball is only part of the job
of defending. The Swoosh protection calls for that players be in a excellent defensive
position whilst marking the opponent ‘goal-side and ball-side’.

When defenders ‘ball-watch’, opponents will transfer into unmarked
positions. The fundamental rule for defenders is to mark the most unsafe player in
your zone and stay ball-aspect and purpose-facet of them.

The split-aways in opposition to the Swoosh protection ordinarily happen when a
defender is “caught flat ” and isn’t going to react to the open opponent in their zone
until finally it can be way too late. If a defenders waits until finally right after the pass is played ahead to
transfer in the direction of the mark in their zone then there is often a foot race to the aim.
90% of excellent defense is positioning absent from the ball.

(Observe: An additional reason I use the “Swoosh” time period is to for the reason that youthful players will
generally continue to be “flat” if the protection is termed a “flat back 4”.)

Ball watching
is fairly normal conduct for young soccer players, having said that, a defender is a
extremely vital posture and that participant need to be alert and experienced enough to
not ball look at. Studying to mark correctly is a ability that will occur with
motivation to mastering.

3. Line Of Restraint And Compactness Throughout Transition

The basic principle of excellent defending is to build ‘compactness’. I
persuade the protection to develop compactness when we transition to offense or
when the opponent passes the ball backwards. We do this because (a)
compacting the room that the other team has to function with makes tension
and (b) we can catch them off-sides. I do not stimulate a refined off-
sides trap beneath U14, but relocating up the area to produce compactness will catch
unaware forwards off-sides.

If we are gradual in our own changeover to offense (for illustration, immediately after we
just cleared the ball from the defensive third) and our defenders just stay deep
in our very own 50 % then we are giving the other staff plenty of area to shift the ball
back to our aim. The basic rule I mentor is if the ball goes up the subject 5
yards then we move the defense up 5 yards – 20 yards up the subject usually means we
move 20 yards up the subject. This is correct till we cross 50 % field. At 50 % subject,
the back 4 move a number of yards into the opponents half of the field.

If our protection stays back in our personal 50 % of the subject then there is a lot less
tension and with much less stress the other workforce will spend the match in our 50 %.
I feel it is a far better plan to check out and protect the 50 percent line than your purpose.

The important to productively compacting the house is that all of the
defenders should move up alongside one another. If just a person defender stays back then the
other workforce will exploit that. The line of defenders transferring up the subject is referred to as
our ‘Line of Restraint’. Our target is to have our ‘Line of Restraint’ no additional than
35 yards from our forwards until eventually our defenders attain the fifty percent line.

Once again, a secondary bonus of compacting the house for the duration of changeover is
that the other workforce is typically off-sides for the reason that their forwards are caught
standing close to just after the ball has been cleared.

4. Off-Sides And Referees

A prevalent concern when playing the Swoosh defense is that referees
can make faults with the off0sides connect with and the other group will have uncomplicated
split-aways. As significantly as the referees lacking offsides phone calls, nicely, which is the
mother nature of the sport. The vital is to handle the controllables. As coaches, we
are unable to management the referee’s selections but we can handle the team’s skill to
have good positioning and marking. Also, if a team performs great defense
and scores goals then they will not be in a position that will enable the referee to
determine the final result of the video game.

In summary, if we mentor to have defenders compact in transition, get
in our right ‘Swoosh’ condition, and mark their opponent aim-side and ball-
facet, then I am self-confident that the flat back four zone protection can be profitable
even with younger groups.

Now that my present U11 crew is at ease with the
Swoosh protection, we have moved on to the position of the attacking outside
defender and their ability to shift forward to be a part of the attack.