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Ideas for improving focus and calming our defenders?

My defenders often loose focus and try to concentrate on too much. They watch the ball, their player, where the post is, our player, there wings, put up wrong arms, run past player etc. Our drills are spot on, and training is generally very good, but when we get into a game they loose confidence, panic and and look like they are being turned inside out. They are 15/un Open.

Defenders do need to watch ball, player, set up etc but with a wide field of vision so not focusing on any one aspect but all at the same time.  It sounds like they are trying too hard to do everything all at once but without going through the decision making process of reading the play and reacting accordingly.  Developing players' peripheral vision and positioning to be able to view all the things they need to see and running through the decisions they may need to make appropriate to what is going on may help.  Young keen players often try to do too much but without clear purpose, so try to give them some direction during the games to help them make the right decisions based on their strengths and those of the opposition.        

defence is one of those positions that you do have to be thinking about a lot, and not just you. your player and the ball, but as Janet has pointed out, it sounds like they are trying to do everything, rather than one task at a time.  maybe remind them about what their primary goal is at any given time, ie, zoning/blocking while the ball is coming down the court, interception, and making movement difficult or interferring with the attacks plays, and setting up for defending the shot, and setting up for rebounds when they take the shot, when its down their end, and clearing the ball, spreading out, and attacking when they have the ball.  if you break down what they need to be doing at any given time, and reduce their task list depending on what part of the game is going on, then they might not try and take as much on.  just a thought.


Thanks very much for both your answers. They are very keen to do as much as possible but end up getting completlely lost - will have a chat to them at training tonight.

Good answers. One thing I tried in training was seeting up a drill where the defenders had to decide to defend the player, the ball or the space, or move for an interception. It was fast moving so at first they ended up flopping around doing neither one thing nor the other. We discussed it and they came to the conclusion that they needed to make a positive decision to do one thing or another, but any decision was better than none. I reminded thme before the next game and was astonished at how much better the defening was - in fact the GK played out of her skin making countless interceptions.

Thanks John, was that in match practise or a set passing drill into the circle? would loye know as that is good advice.
Answered using Sportplan on Mobile

Hi Jo - Mark out a square (approx half a third) with cones. Have a player at each side of the square. In the square have 2 attackers and 2 defenders. The attackers can pass to each other or any of the 4 players on the edge. The defenders have to try to gain possession. They have to decide whether to mark the player or drive for an interception, or once aplyer has gained possession they need to go to second stage defending and then on to third stage. Rotate the players so they all get a go at defending. After a few minutes get them to evaluate their defending and see what they learn from it. It worked well and I am going to do it again next week.

Hi John - thank you for your recommendation. I look forward to applying that exercise.

Just to add to that drill and make it easier for the defense to gain success if a player on the edge gets the ball she cannot pass to any player on the edge right  beside her she can only pass over the top or to either of the in square attacking players.  That then narrows down the options for the attacking players and allows the defense to set up for an interception.


Thanks Joanne - good point.

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