What does it take to be a truly world class defender like John Terry? For starters you'll need to be the first to react when the ball is in the box. You'll need to be able to make that all important challenge and clear the ball from danger when necessary, and especially in the modern game you'll also need to be comfortable with the ball at your feet and be able to pass into midfield.

But when it comes to defending, what really separates the good from the great players is their ability to make the right decisions at the right time, and deal with each situation in the right way. JT is renowned for his first class distribution from the back, cool and calm on the ball and able to turn defence into attack with his pin-point passes from either his left or right foot. And yes that's the same John Terry who will throw his body (and quite often his face) in the way of danger if it means stopping the ball from heading towards goal. It's the ability to decide in a fraction of a second if it's safe to bring that ball down and play, or if it needs to be smashed towards row Z that all great defenders posses.

That's why we've created our John Terry inspired 'Defend the Box' drill to help you improve your reactions, speed, agility, your decision making and also your ability to pass and head the ball. Give it a go by watching our training video featuring John Terry and following the steps below.



  • Set up your training zone as the image above using agility poles or cones
  • The player working starts inside the 4x4m grid
  • Number the four poles that make up the 4x4m grid
  • The coach stands in-between the grid and the passing target with x3 balls & x3 tennis balls


The coach initiates the start of the drill by calling out any one of the numbered poles. The player must react to the verbal call and move to the pole as fast as they can. As they return to the centre of the grid the coach will then challenge the player to react to one of the following options...


If the coach decides to throw a tennis ball into the grid the player must react as fast as possible and catch the ball before it hits the ground. They must then throw the ball back to the coach and get ready for the next numbered pole to be called.


If the coach throws the ball high into the air the player must aim to head the ball as far outside of the box as possible. The player should aim to head the ball back into the direction it came from and aim to make contact with the ball at its highest point.


If the coach passes the ball along the ground into the feet of player he should aim to control the ball with a single touch and pass the ball between the target.


  • The numbers called and the ball served by the coach, should be completely random for every rep
  • Every time the player moves to the pole and then returns to react to one of the balls, this is counted as 1 rep - aim to perform 6 reps per set
  • Give yourself a score out of 6 for each set by giving yourself 1 point for each ball caught, defended or passed successfully
  • To make the drill more difficult you can increase the number of reps per set or reduce the size of the passing target