Youth Soccer Drill: The Defensive Run-Down

Defensive Run-Down is a drill that tests both offensive and defensive players simultaneously. The offensive player works on speed while dribbling under pressure and at the same time the defensive player practices recovery maneuvers and clearing the ball.


  • Two players (one offensive and one defensive) and a ball are to stand close to the midfield line. Usually there's enough room on one side of midfield for 3 sets of players to be involved at once.
  • On your first whistle the offensive player dribbles at high speed towards the goal.

  • Once the offensive player has a several yard head start blow the whistle again. This signals the defensive player to attempt to run down the offensive player and attempt to get ahead and clear the ball to the outside.

  • The offensive player must keep the ball under foot control--no long dribbling is permitted.
  • If the offensive player eludes the defender then a shot may be taken once inside the penalty area but no sooner. Once a defensive player has kicked the offensive player's ball away or the offensive player takes a shot, the drill has ended and players may then line up on the 50 yard line to repeat the exercise.

More: 4 Drills to Improve Dribbling

Points of Emphasis

Defensive Run-Down is a drill that stresses recovery for defenders and control of the ball while dribbling for offensive players. Among the coaching point:

  • Offensive players attempt to run at high speed while keeping the ball at their feet.
  • Offensive players attempt to get into scoring position knowing a defender is quickly approaching.
  • Defensive players should run towards the goal and clear the ball to the outside.
  • Defensive players should attempt legal slide tackling.


As players gain an understanding of the drill, further variations include:

  • Having two defenders attack from either side.
  • Using left or right sides of the field to work opposing feet.
  • Adding a goalie in the net whose job it is to add a distraction for the oncoming offensive player.

More: Coaching Tips: Finding Space on the Soccer Field

Motivation/Teaching Tips

  • This drill is a great way to teach players defensive skill if an offender breaks through and quickly speeds towards the goal. Let a defensive player know that all is not lost if a line of defense breaks down and an offensive player gains an advantage.
  • Allow offensive players to be creative under pressure by performing any moves necessary to achieve a shot on goal or considering passing the ball to another offender.
  • As this situation will likely occur in a real game setting, stress the importance for both offensive and defensive players to understand their roles.

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