Carolina Morace : Out of Possession: Covered and uncovered ball

Carolina Morace was one of the guest clinicians at the 2017 National Soccer Coaching Conference hosted by the University of Toronto.

A former Head Coach of the Canadian and Italian Women’s National Teams,Carolina holds a UEFA Pro license, and she is recognized around the world for her technical knowledge and competence. It was a great opportunity for me and many local Canadian coaches to come out and see her in action. Her session was not an easy one. The topic was centered in training the back 4 on how to deal with the situations of "covered and uncovered ball.The time available for this session was only 1 hour.

Warm up

She started the session with the warm up exercise below, for the physical activation of the players, and as an introduction to the defending topic. In this exercise she started to highlight the key factor of a defensive stance in relation to the ball carrier.

Technical Training

In the following exercise she worked on the proper approach of the defender when challenging an opponent receiving a pass. She stressed the importance on the time and speed of approach (as the ball was about to be passed,) and getting in a good balanced defensive position.

Pass and Challenge


2v4 in a grid ( Pressure and Cover)

She progressed the session with the exercise below, aimed at the training of two player working together within a grid, trying to prevent a penetrating pass to the opposite side. In this exercise she emphasized the proper angle of support of the second defender, and most importantly the correct distance he/she should take in relation to the teammate and the supporting opponent.

Game Situation

2v4 in a grid ( Pressure and Cover)

The next activity she presented is a 3v3 game situation. The objective of this game is for the 3 defenders working together to prevent forward passing.

She concentrates on the basic zonal defensive concepts of diagonal and triangle set up of defenders in relation to the ball. With the ball in a wide position, she wanted the first defender to approach in a matter to cut off the pass along the outside line and to show inside, while the covering and balancing defenders to address and take away passing lanes.

When the ball was central, the middle defender would pressure the ball, while the other 2 defenders provide cover and take away passing lanes.

Functional Play

4v6 ( Covered and uncover ball )

In the final part of her session, Carolina uses a functional practice to train the back 4 in how to move as a unit when the ball is covered or uncovered.(Elastic principles) in this functional, she points out the correct sideways body position defenders must assume in this situation, ready to sprint back to deal with balls behind their defensive line, and leadership role one of the central defender must take on in guiding the back four movements in dealing with each situation.

As the back 4 are attacked in a 4v6 situation, it is important that they keep their compactness and choose the correct moment to challenge the ball carrier.

Ultimately it was a very good session, with a lot detailed technical information packed in one hour time. I liked the fact that she set up her session in a progressive manner, gradually going from a simple form of defensing exercises to more complex activities.

She spend a lot of time in dealing with the individual technical-tactical aspects of defending, culminating with a functional group play. With more time available, she would have probably progressed ito a phase of play or small sided game to further address the topic.

To download a full detailed pdf session click here

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