AYSO Region 104


FineSoccer Drill 48 - Shielding and Agressiveness

The first part of the aggressiveness drills is to have an 8 x 8 grid for each two players in your group. The two players are working on shielding. One player starts with the ball and when the coach says "go" the other player tries to win the ball from the first player who is trying to keep the ball by shielding. If the second player wins the ball, then she tries to shield the ball for the remainder of the 10 seconds. The key is to emphasize that the player without the ball is trying to legally win the ball and that soccer is a CONTACT sport so this is a great way to work on it. This can be done as a competition where each player starts with the ball 10 times and see who has the ball the most times at the end of the 10 second periods. See the diagram below for the setup.

Next, switch from 2 players to 3 players in a grid. Start with a player in each corner with the ball in the middle. When the coach says "go" each player tried so win the ball and keep it by shielding it from the other 2. This also should be done as a contest. If the ball goes outside of the grid, they all lose that battle. See the diagram below for this setup.

Now that the players are used to winning the ball and keeping it, we now add winning the ball, keeping it and then going to goal. Start with two lines approximately 25 yards from the goal. When the coach says "go" the first player in line A sprints around the goal going toward the post nearest her first. At the same time, the first player in line B goes around the goal toward the post closest to her. The ball is on the top of the 18 and the first player to the ball, wins it, shields it until she can find the opportunity to turn and then goes to goal. If the second player then wins the ball, she then goes to goal. This drill works on conditioning, aggressiveness, shielding, finishing, goalkeeping and defense. The coach should have the next two players in line start as soon as the two in front of them get near the ball. This drill can have as many as 12 field players going to one goal without there being too much standing around. See the diagram below for the setup.

The last step in this progression is to have a 6 v 6 game with two goals on a small (40 x 30) field. The ball gets served into the middle and either team can win the ball and score on either goal. This will encourage the players to fight to win the ball since defending in this game is very difficult. Be careful to watch for fouling as it is possible for this game to get out of hand if not monitored properly.

Give these drills a try the next time you are looking for more aggressiveness with your teams.


Shielding is a very simple concept but something that is done very poorly by most of the youth players I see play.

First, lets define what shielding actually entails. It's using your body to keep the ball away from the opponent. It can be misconstrued as obstruction however, the difference is that shielding is done within playing difference from the ball.

One of the keys to being an effective shielder (is that really a term??) is to position your body properly between the defender and the ball. Too many players think that standing with their back to the defender and between the ball and the defender is doing the job properly. However, this is not an effective way to shield. It is too easy for the defender to poke the ball away from the player from this post ion either by sticking their leg between the shielders leg or by poking around the shielder. Instead of this position, the player should assume a side on position. This means that instead of having the back to the defender, the shielder should have their width of the body between the defender and the ball. This means the shielders shoulder should be up against the defender and the only way for the defender to get to the ball, she must go through the shielders entire width of her body to get to the ball. This will make it much more difficult for the defender to get to the ball.

Once she has positioned herself properly by being side on to the defender, she must now start to use her arms properly to shield. The arm closest to the defender should be slightly bent and used to ward off the defender (note I am not saying to push the defender away with an outstretched arm as that would be against the rules and easily seen). By using this arm properly, the shielder can build even more space between the defender and the ball.

Next it is important to maintain a low base while shielding. This means getting a nice bend from the knees and a slight bend from the waist. By doing this, the shielder accomplishes two things. First, she makes herself even wider which puts even more space between the defender and the ball. Second, it lowers her center of gravity which will make her harder to get knocked off of the ball.

Having assumed the proper position, started to use the arms properly and taken a low stance, you are now ready to start shielding properly. One of the mistakes made by players while shielding is to allow the ball to get between the legs which makes the ball vulnerable to a poke tackle. Keep possession of the ball with the outside of the foot furthest from the defender and be prepared to cut the ball in either direction. From here, shielding becomes a matter of footwork and desire. Keep your feet moving and make the decision to not lose possession of the ball.

To practice shielding, have ten second battles for the ball where the person who has the ball at the end of a ten second battle gets a point. Play 20 times and the players will have a better understanding of the physical side of soccer as well as the conditioning and amount of contact that takes place in a game of soccer.

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