This is a tactical training session based around reacting quickly to the attacking transition and it rehearses players to win the ball and counter-attack fast.
In the modern game, most teams focus on building play from the back, leaving themselves exposed to the counter-attack if facing a team that presses aggressively and high. This presents attackers with a huge opportunity to create scoring chances with a direct route to goal.
We would run this session at least once a week, especially when we are due to play against a team that is focused on playing out from the back.
We also use it as a means of practising defending against transitions because it’s a good activity to train our defenders to stop counter-attacks.
HIGH PRESS GAME
We set up on half a pitch with a goal and a goalkeeper at one end and a scoring zone marked across the width of the pitch on the halfway line at the other end. We’re using 13 outfield players split into a blue attacking team of six and a red defending team of seven plus keeper.
The game starts with a pass out from the goalkeeper to a team mate in the red defending team and the reds must build up play from the back, scoring a point if they manage to receive the ball in the scoring zone, as shown [1a].
After the red team scores in the zone, the coach restarts play by passing a new ball to the blue team to launch a counter-attack. The reds must now get back into shape and try to cover the counter-attack, while the blues should use fast passing to get the ball quickly up the pitch and into the danger areas so they can try to score in the goal, as shown [1b].
Play restarts with a pass out from the goalkeeper to the red team. The blue team’s objective is to press high and win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible in order to score quickly in the goal, as shown [1c].
What are the key things to look for?
We want to see our attacking players pressing with aggression and purpose to win the ball high up the pitch. When they win possession, the attacking players should react quickly to pass forwards or make supporting forward runs.
The movement of supporting players is vital and at least one player must run beyond the defenders to break the line.
What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?
The attacking players can become too passive in the press and react too slowly to counter-attack after regaining the ball. They can also fail to support the counter-attack with off-the-ball movement.
How would I put this in a game situation?
We would progress this practice into an 11v11 box-to-box game, emphasising the right moments to counter-attack and the right moments to retain
possession of the ball.