How to defend like England: roles and responsibilities
Do your players know who is doing what, and when? This article is part of a series on the defensive tactics of our national teams. This time, we explain how their approach can help you develop your players’ understanding of roles and responsibilities when defending.
Picture the scene. Your opposition is patient on the ball, building up play to look for an opening. An aggressive press could disrupt their approach, but it's risky.
For the press to work, your players need to make some quick decisions. Who initiates the first movement? Who provides cover? How does the team react?
The answers are heavily influenced by the roles, responsibilities and relationships in your team. It's essential to have a good understanding of who does what, and when.
Get this right and, in a matter of seconds, your players could have the ball back – or deny the opposition a goalscoring chance.
How do roles and responsibilities play into England’s defensive tactics?
The philosophy of our England national teams is to play on the front foot and win the ball back in opposition territory. For this to happen, every player needs a shared understanding of the strategy.
For instance, imagine a player decides to initiate a press. The rest of the team must be ready to offer their support. While pressing in isolation may not work, regaining possession is much likelier if everyone plays their part.
When it comes to winning the ball back, it’s easy to focus on technical skills. But strong relationships and good decision-making are just as important.
Case in point: a great press might look effortless, but the players involved will have been thinking hard about when and how to initiate it. Not to mention how to provide cover and balance.
It takes time to understand the roles and responsibilities within a team. As a coach, it’s your job to provide the tools to get your players there. Why not start with more time on the pitch? This helps teammates gel together and make informed decisions.
Watch how the England Men's senior team do just that: