Training your third defender to be in proper position is a key component of a successful defense. In the video clip below Schellas Hyndman, current Men’s Soccer Head Coach at Grand Canyon University, discusses position and balance during his Coaching the 3rd Defender demonstration at a recent Glazier Soccer Clinic. Coach Hyndman breaks down the roles and responsibilities of the 3rd defender in a 3 v 3 drill that allows the players and teams to work on defense and defending in small groups.
The grid is set up approximately 20 yards in length and 30 yards wide. There are three small goals used on each end of the grid that teams can attack and try to score on. The teams are split up into different colors with three players each on three teams. One team starts with the ball attacking one direction and the second team defending. Once the defensive team wins the ball, there is a goal scored, or any change in possession, the offensive team goes off the field behind the goals they were attacking. The defensive team on the field now transitions to be the offensive team. The third team waiting off the field on the opposite end steps on to be the defensive team. This constant rotation allows the drill to keep going with every team playing both offense and defense.
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The video has sound, so please make sure that your sound is turned on.
There are several coaching points from this drill regarding the 3rd defender:
The 3rd defender provides balance for the team. If this player pushes too far up or back, they create holes and gaps that other teams can attack. There should be constant communication from this player to his or her teammates as they can see the entire field.
The 3rd defender must see the ball and the player they are defending. This requires depth or dropping back to make sure a player can see both. It is also very important to have a good stance and angle so this player is not closing their body to either the ball or the offensive player.
The first defender should put pressure and close down the ball. The 2nd defender should support the first defender in case they get beat on the dribble. The 3rd defender should provide both balance and cover for both the 1st and 2nd defenders. All players need to understand these roles and the responsibilities that come with each one as there is constant interchanging that goes on during a game.