What is marking?
We explore marking, why it matters, and how you can help your team develop this essential skill.
Marking. You've probably heard this mentioned in every football match you've ever watched. It's a vital defensive tactic that prevents the opposing team from gaining possession. There are two types of marking:
- Player-to-player – where a specified player is tracked throughout the match.
- Zonal – where players protect a specific area of the pitch.
You may have noticed most teams use a mixture of these approaches in a match.
Whichever approach you use, marking is a crucial skill to develop as a footballer, both as an individual and as a team. Pressing and compactness all come from marking. How close we mark the opposition or how much space we give them can determine how easy it is for them to penetrate and create goalscoring opportunities.
Marking is all about positioning and where your players place themselves in relation to the ball, each other, and the opposition. For example, when the opposition players are near the goal, players should mark closer, whereas if they are further away from the goal, players may mark at a distance. Your players should use their scanning skills to decide where to move and how to position themselves.
The FA 4 Corner Model is an important consideration when coaching marking skills. The physical and tactical corners play a large part, especially when thinking about the position and movement of players. But you should also consider the psychological corner. Concentration is a big contributor to successful marking, staying alert to different reference points on the pitch. As a team, successfully marking the opposition needs trust and the ability to understand non-verbal cues from teammates. Without it, your players become too easy to read, and the opposition will overrun them.
Make sure your players know that good positioning, timing, and movement can compensate for a physical disadvantage, so it's crucial to consider all four corners in training.