Sweeper Clearing is a defensive soccer drill designed not only for the sweeper position but for any player who finds him/herself in a defensive position that requires the ball be removed quickly from the area. In this drill defenders practice clearing balls while they themselves are under pressure.
- Six players per drill group are utilized in this drill
- A, B, C, D, and E should align themselves, each with a ball, in an arc about 40-50 yards from the defensive player who is positioned at the top of the penalty area.
- Player A kicks a ball at the goal.
- The defensive player clears the ball up the field.
- As soon as the defender clears a ball, the next ball should be on its way in order to keep the pressure high.
- After five balls are cleared, a new defender comes onto the field to perform.
Points of Emphasis
Sweeper Clearing is a simple defensive drill. Players should begin to feel comfortable clearing away a ball when under pressure. During Sweeper Clearing, make sure these coaching points are clear:
- Defensive players should kick the ball away without trapping it first.
- Offensive players should keep an attacking mindset and don't ease up on the defender -- kick the ball to the defender as soon as possible.
- Offensive players use many variations of shots. Shoot so that the defender receives balls from the air as well as the ground.
As players gain an understanding of the game, further variations include:
- Using a second defender to back up the first defender.
- Adding more offenders who will take more shots.
- Moving the offensive players closer to the defender when taking shots.
- Having offensive players run towards the goal as the next offensive player takes a shot to increase the pressure on the defender.
Motivation / Teaching Tips
- A defender simply needs to get a foot on the ball and kick it away and should avoid trying to do anything fancy, especially if he/she is the last line of defense in front of the goalie.
- Encourage offensive players to make their shots towards the defender/goal be as accurate as possible. This drill works shooting as well as serves as practice for the defender.
- Award a defender who successfully clears all 5 balls into the opposition's zone.
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