Player Reflection Tool

Defending - Supporting and covering


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First, complete the 55 questions below as accurately as you can

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Identify two aims

Use video tasks to identify two specific things to work on

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Defending in football is not something we do alone. It is a team activity, and everyone is involved. It is very important that the defending player pressuring the ball has support and cover if possible. This webpage has been especially designed to help you improve your defending skills. Your mission is to complete all the homework tasks below and identify two key specific things that you want to work on and try to improve in your practice sessions, team training or on your own.

Get ready to meet the brilliant Alex Scott and N'Golo Kante - who will inspire us to be better defenders. We will also examine what group defending looks like in futsal, and visit some tremendous last gasp defensive clearances!

Let's begin by remembering some of the basics of defending. World Cup Bronze medallist and Champions League Winner, Alex Scott gives her 'Top 5 Defending Tips'. Pay attention to Tip Number 3:

"The spaces between need to be right so the attackers don't play through-balls".

Homework Task 1 will look at this in more detail...


Watch the first video, which shows two defenders working together. One of the defenders pressures the ball, the other provides cover. Answer the questions below.

  • Why is it important to put pressure on the player on the ball?
  • How do the players know which one of them should pressure the ball?
  • How close and what angle should the 'cover' defender be?

The video on the right shows two defenders working together against two attackers. As in the first video, one defender pressures the ball, while the other provides cover.

The role of the 'cover' defender is:

  • To get ready incase their team-mate is beaten
  • To stop any passes going between her and her team-mate
  • To get ready to pressure their opponent if the pass is passed across, and possibly intercept the pass


We will now focus on the brilliant N'Golo Kante, who usually plays in a 'holding' midfield role. In the video, you will see examples of how Kante 'reads' the game and makes great decisions about where and how to defend, and when to move to tackle or intercept (start at 2m 17s).

  • What skills from the first two videos do you see Kante use?
  • Identify something about the way Kante plays that you think you could copy and use yourself. 


The video in this task is from the Ministry of Football Futsal Club. The Yellow team are exploring how to defend as a team, and are learning a way of defending in a Diamond shape. Defending roles in futsal are a bit different from in football because of the smaller spaces - but the principles of support, cover and balance are the same.

Watch the video, and answer the questions below.  

  • When should the cover defenders move to change position
  • How does the cover defender know when it is there turn to go and pressure the player with the ball?

"If I have to make a tackle then I have already made a mistake" - Paulo Maldini.

Maldini was expressing the importance of good positioning when defending. He was saying that if he keeps taking up good positioning, and reading and responding to the opponents movements, then he will rarely need to make a tackle. He thinks a tackle is only necessary when a mistake has been made and a defender has got beaten by an attacker.

So finally, let's look at examples of cover and balance from professional football, and see what things look like when the 'pressure' defender gets beaten and the 'cover' defender suddenly needs to act. 


This video shows examples of 'goal-saving' tackles. In these examples, the defenders are trying to keep up with the quick attacking play, and have to make quick decisions on where to move and when.

See if you can spot examples of where a cover defender moves quickly to react to a team-mate getting beaten.  

  • Choose your favourite example of cover defending from this video. Identify two things that the cover defender did really well to enable them to make the goal-saving tackle.

Player Reflection Tool - Home

Dear Learner,

Welcome to your HOMEWORK page! Here you will learn about your chosen topic. It is a good idea to save the URL for this page to your favourites so you can easily return to it when you need to.

You need to work through the tasks on the page, one at a time. This might mean watching videos, it might mean doing other tasks and activities. It may be a good idea to take notes also. Remember that the more work and effort you put into the tasks, the more you will learn and the better you will become.

For most topics, there will be a PRINT OUT at the bottom of the page. You need to print this, complete the questions, and take to your coach. You need to do this so the coaches know what you are working on and are able to help you.

If any of the links on this page are broken, or you have other ideas or suggestions, please get in touch at:


Mark Carter

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Once you have completed all the homework, click on the 'Print the form' link. This will open a form which you need to print out and complete. Take this completed form to your coach.

Then click here to move onto the last part of the Tool.

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Mark Carter

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