clearing build-up practice drill for defense

Defense Clearing “Build-Up” Drill

One of the first things we fix when coaching new teams is Clearing. Use this great drill to get your Goalies and Defenders moving the ball down field to your Offense so you can score more goals!


"Defense wins championships." Every good coach knows that. The best teams are the ones that Clear the best, usually 85-90% of the time or more! You can't score if you don't get the ball to your Offense, and you can't do that if you can't Clear the ball out of your defensive end of the field. Clearing equals possessions, and those possessions are critical if you want to score and win.


Clearing can seem like total chaos, and it has kept more than one of us here at Lax Library awake the night before games. BUT, with six Defenders plus your Goalie (6+1=7) against six (6) Attackers, you have an open extra man somewhere on the field any time you get the ball in your defensive end! That's why college teams seem so calm any time they are Clearing- because they know they have the numbers advantage! This drill teaches your Goalies and Defenders to use this numbers advantage to their...well, their advantage!


This is one of the few drills that breaks down numbers-advantage transition situations on both sides of the ball. Breaking larger, more complex game situations down into smaller "chunks" is critical for teaching your players to understand what's happening, and think for themselves. Teach them how to play, don't teach them plays. You want smart, creative players, not robots.

Similar to this classic 2-on-1 Build-Up Drill for Offense that we see college teams using in their pregame warm-ups, this drill gives your Defenders and Goalies a chance to Clear the ball at every step of the Clearing game- building up from 2-on-1 all the way to 7-on-6. It incorporates field spacing and long, cross-field "Over!" passes that they will need in games. It also teachers your Defenders how to get back in the "Hole" and play Defense "from Inside-Out", plus Man-Down Transition Defense against 4-on-3 Fast Breaks, 5-on-4 Slow Breaks, and 6-on-5 Man-Up/Man-Down Situations. Your Attackers will learn to use different Riding strategies, and they get to attack the goal in all different numbers-advantage transition situations too! This drill has everything. Your players are going to love it!


clearing build up practice drill for defense

Figure 1.) Split your team into two squads- Offense (Blue) and Defense (Red). Put all your Defenders in one line on the Sideline near Goal Line Extended (GLE). Start all your Attackers in one line up top at the Midfield Line. Make sure all your Midfielders get a chance to play both sides of the ball in this drill.

Start with a 2-on-1 Clear. The first Defender (Red 1) plus the Red Goalie will Clear the ball 2-on-1 to the Midfield Line against one Riding Attacker (Blue 1).

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