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Defensive running is something that is often looked over in junior footy. Everyone loves kicking goals, however we need to teach our players to stop goals in order to win games. This becomes identified as a deficiency when many players come into senior footy. As junior coaches, we want to develop a player as a whole, therefore teaching players to run defensively is really important.

Defensive running

Running defensively is to run as hard and as intense to the correct positions to influence the game.  The running has to be just as intense and as fast as if they are trying to kick a goal.

Even though training has been done for the week, below is a great activity to work on the defensive side of the game.

A sound defensive strategy significantly helps winning games, especially in the finals.  So take some time this week to set up for the finals series if your team is playing. You can still have a defensive goal if your team is not playing finals.


Young Players

Without going into too much detail, younger players need to understand to keep running defensively as much as they can.  Even though some levels have zones, it’s important to teach players to move defensively until they are no longer needed in the contest.

Teach your players to to always be watching the ball, plus trying to read where the ball is going to go.  If your team has the ball, teach your players to always be thinking of positioning. If the ball is turned over, they will be able to better position themselves defensively.

One of the biggest selling points to defensive running in the younger age groups is communicating to the players the purpose of the technique. Every player wants to kick goals, however, you only win games if you score more than your opponent. Explaining all the ways in which players on a team can help win a game of footy will help your players understand the aspects of the game where they don’t need to have the ball to influence the game.


12/13’s and Up

This is where a real progression can take place each year from now.  Players need to understand defensive running needs to be just as hard as running to try and get a goal.  If this message gets communicated, then a lot of players will understand. Players also need to be taught to take pride in their defensive efforts to help the team’s overall performance.


Things to think about when trying to develop defensive running

– Teach players to turn and sprint to the next available player when the ball gets turned over

– Make sure players are always in the correct position even if in possession of the ball

– Get players to understand two-way running should be the same high intensity

– Teach players to take pride in being defensive

– Teach your taller players to run deep to the goal line on set shots

– Get your players to run into defensive 50 to plug up holes in the defence.

– Teach players to zone off in their defensive running, and if they need to take their non-direct player for a while, that’s fine.