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Fortify The Backline Engaging Defensive Football Drills For Kids

Football is often considered a game won by spectacular goals, however, every seasoned coach and player knows the true backbone of any successful team lies in its defence.

A well-orchestrated, skilful, and robust defensive line is integral to the success of a team. To develop such a defensive line, consistent practice of the right defensive football drills is crucial.

Defensive drills for football are more than just repetitive tasks; they are tools designed to enhance specific skills, increase understanding of the game, and improve overall performance on the field.

Focusing on football defensive drills can help young players build the necessary skills and mindset for a sturdy defence. They allow players to repeatedly practice certain movements and tactics, enabling them to respond effectively during actual game scenarios.

In todays post we will breakdown 4 defensive youth football drills that cover both drills for tackling in football and positioning.

  • 2x positional drills for football

  • 2 x football drills for tackling

Football Drills For Positioning

Positional drills for football should be common ground for a defender. The ability to position oneself correctly can determine the success of an entire game as it involves knowing where to be at the right time, understanding the opponent's strategy, and preventing potential scoring opportunities.

Drill 1: The Shadow Drill | Man Marking Football Drills


This is one of many man marking football drills that improves man-marking skills and the ability to quickly respond to an attacking player's movements. Find some simple man marking drills that can have a significant improvement on your backline below.

Setup Steps:

  1. Select a suitable space on the pitch, preferably a square area around 10 x 10 yards. The size can be adjusted based on the player's skill level – smaller for more challenge, larger for less.

  2. Designate one player as the attacker and another as the defender. They will be positioned inside the marked area.

  3. Make sure both the attacker and defender understand the objective of the drill.

Execution Steps:

  1. The drill starts with the attacker moving around within the designated area. The attacker should try to lose the defender by changing direction and pace frequently.

  2. The defender's task is to mirror the attacker's movements as closely as possible, always trying to stay between the attacker and the potential goal.

  3. Ensure the defender stays on their toes and maintains a side-on body position. This body position allows for quick and agile movement in all directions.

  4. Continue the drill for a set period, e.g., one minute, then allow players to rest and swap roles.

Key Points:

The defender should always be ready to change direction quickly.

Keeping a low centre of gravity can help the defender to turn more rapidly.

The defender should aim to stay a manageable distance from the attacker, close enough to interfere with any attempted play but not so close as to be easily bypassed.


  • Improves a player's agility and reaction speed.

  • Enhances man-marking skills.

  • Helps a defender better anticipate and respond to an attacker's movement.

Drill 2: The Defensive Line Drill | Football Tackling Drills


To improve the coordination and positioning of the defensive line, enhancing the ability to create an offside trap.

Setup Steps:

  1. On a suitable part of the field, line up four defenders across the pitch, roughly in the area where an offside line might naturally occur during a game.

  2. Assemble a group of attackers a few yards away from the defenders, preparing to run towards the goal.

  3. Position a coach or helper with a collection of balls ready to send through balls to the attackers.

Execution Steps:

  1. The drill begins with the coach or helper signalling the start or launching a through ball towards the goal.

  2. On the signal, the attackers start making runs towards the goal, aiming to receive the ball without being caught offside.

  3. Simultaneously, the defenders need to work together to advance forward, attempting to catch the attackers in an offside position.

  4. The drill continues with the coach or helper sending multiple through balls and the defenders repeating the offside trap.

  5. After a set number of tries or a certain period, allow the players to rest, provide feedback, and then repeat the drill.

Key Points:

Communication among the defenders is crucial, with one typically taking the 'leader' role to signal when to move up.

Timing is vital – moving too early or too late could lead to an unsuccessful offside trap.

Defenders should keep an eye on both the attackers and the ball to best time their advance.


  • Enhances defenders' understanding and execution of the offside trap.

  • Promotes communication and coordination among the defensive line.

  • Provides practical experience in catching attackers offside, which could be game-changing in actual match scenarios.

Football Tackling Drills

Tackling is an essential defensive skill in football. The aim of tackling drills is to develop players' ability to dispossess the opponent safely, effectively and within the rules of the game. By practising these football drills for tackling, players can improve their timing, precision, and confidence in tackling.

Drill 3: Football drills for tackling | 1v1 Tackling Drills


To improve one-on-one tackling skills and confidence.

Setup Steps:

  1. Set up a rectangular area suitable for a one-on-one confrontation.

  2. Position one player as the attacker at one end of the rectangle with a ball.

  3. Position another player as the defender on the opposite end.

Execution Steps:

  1. The drill starts with the attacker dribbling towards the defender, attempting to get past them.

  2. The defender's goal is to dispossess the attacker by using safe and effective tackling techniques.

  3. Once the ball is out of play or the attacker has passed the defender, the roles are swapped, and the drill is repeated.

Key Points:

The defender should approach the attacker at an angle, limiting the attacker's options.

The defender must stay balanced, on their toes, and ready to react to the attacker's movements.

It's important for the defender to focus on the ball, not the attacker's feet.


  • Enhances the player's ability to perform successful tackles.

  • Improves defensive decision-making skills.

  • Builds confidence in one-on-one defensive situations.

Drill 4: The Side Tackle Drill | Football tackling drills


To improve the side tackle technique and timing.

Setup Steps:

  1. Set up a narrow channel around 10 yards long.

  2. Assign one player as the attacker, positioned at one end of the channel with a ball.

  3. The defender is positioned in the middle of the channel.

Execution Steps:

  1. The drill begins with the attacker dribbling the ball down the channel.

  2. The defender moves towards the attacker and attempts a side tackle to dispossess them.

  3. The roles are swapped after each attempt, and the drill is repeated.

Key Points:

The defender should time their tackle to coincide with the attacker's touch.

The defender should aim to make contact with the ball, not the player.

The tackle should be executed with the foot closest to the ball, while the other foot provides balance and support.


  • Enhances the player's side tackle technique and timing.

  • Improves precision in tackling.

  • Helps players understand the importance of a well-timed tackle.

defensive football drills for kids


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