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Defending lifts on free hits

I am a high school coach in the USA. We played a team this past weekend who had a defender who lifted on a free hit 30-40 yards. That was pretty much their only offense. All of their forwards were ready to receive the long balls. How do we defend that? Should I have almost everyone drop back 30-40 yards?

Dropping back is worth a try or you can also deliberately leave one of the opposition players really free (preferably wide) for a very easy pass.
In both cases once the ball is passed your team can go back to pressuring the ball.

If you see the same player getting ready to take the free Hit back up and try man to man marking in the back and have the players closest to the free hit pressure the ball.  The closer to goal the hit is the less space you give any opponent.

Keep pressure on free hit dont man mark make sure defence beyond the Aireal thrown to intercept 

Hi Kelly

Each team will use different tactics. If you can identify this tactic, then try and adjust your game to take advantage of it.

Here's what I would do, and I am sure many others would have their own ways too.

1. Use 'zone defence' versus 'man marking'

2. Create the 'press' as per normal, i.e. a wall of players in front of the defender. You could do a 3 man 3/4 press or something like this.

3. Leave a gap behind the press for the defender to drop an aerial. Put a player just behind (not in) this space so your player can anticipate the aerial and get to it first.

4. Once your player attempts to catch the 'aerial', they should be given 5 yards of space to control it. If your player and an opponent attempt to 'catch' the ball at roughly the same time, then the umpire should give a bias towards defender (not guaranteed but this should happen).

5. Once your player has control of the ball, then counter at speed, for example, transfer the ball (across the width of the pitch) and attack down the opposite wing. May be throw an aerial down that wing? :-)

Another example is 

Do the above, but put players IN the space where an aerial will land, to act as a deterent, and leave a gap in the press near the sideline to lure the defender to pass into that space. Then try and win back the ball etc..

Good luck

hi kelly,


what i wouldt do in this case, is set up a man to man defence.

now i  give my "man" the illusion that he can get a free pass.

but what i am actually doing is lurk/skulk on the pass to come!

as soon as the arial is taken i sprint towards the receiver and steel it!

worked for me nine out of ten times.


good luck!

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