How to defend like England: overloads
Do your players know what to do when they’re outnumbered? 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 get your players ready to handle overloads.
Picture the scene. Your press gets broken, leaving the opposition with space out wide. They pour forward in numbers.
As they rampage down the wing, an opponent makes an overlapping run past the player on the ball. Your wide defender is now outnumbered, two to one.
This is an overload. Put simply, it’s when the opposition has more players than your team in an area of the pitch.
Because pressing is central to England’s philosophy, our national teams are open to overloads when their press is broken.
Overloads can happen all over the pitch
They’re not limited to the area near your box. Overloads can happen anywhere.
We’ve seen how a wide defender can be faced with a winger and an overlapping player. Alternatively, your team could become outnumbered in the opponent’s half as you try to press their defence.
The second situation is common when teams have a strategy like England’s, of staying compact and encouraging the ball wide. The opposition tries to win the battle on the wings, safe in the knowledge that their players have more time and space out there.
What are the best defensive tactics to deal with an overload?
Like in other defensive situations, players need the skills to defend 1v1, cope with moments of transition, and defend the space in behind. But an overload adds another layer of difficulty.
Who do you press? Where do you show them? How do you stop them from creating something?
It takes time for players to adapt their skillset to deal with two players on their own. As a coach, it’s your job to provide opportunities to practise in game-related activities.
Time on the pitch gives players the chance to work out different tactics, like how their body positioning can delay the attack.