This session looks at the value of pressing in all areas of the pitch, with an emphasis on turning over possession and creating onward goalscoring chances.
In it, we look at pressing technique, the relationships between players, and the value of winning the ball in different areas.
It’s vital we practise pressing technique because, on average, the ball is turned over 360 times in a game – that’s four times per minute. Barcelona didn’t make their name through possession football, they made it through transitions and how quickly players can react to the possibilities brought about by a turnover, and that is at the heart of this session.
Up to 76×44 yards
Balls, cones, mannequins, goals
Number of Players
Up to 14
Pressing warm-up 15mins, Mannequin formation 10mins, 7v7 game 4x4mins, 11v11 game 15mins
What do I get the players to do?
To start, we place mannequins in a 20×15-yard area. Players run into the area, jockey a mannequin staying high or getting low in their stance, then run to the top edge, before coming back the other way (1). This is a simple pressing drill that rehearses approach and technique. After a while we remove the mannequins and give balls to half the players. Now opponents press the man without tackling, before moving on to the next target.
• Players move through the area, approaching mannequins and practicing pressing technique, before moving off
Gauging the likely formation of upcoming opponents, we set mannequins in that shape – I have used 4-2-3-1 in the example. Players enter individually from the other side of the pitch with the instruction of approaching and pressing the mannequin relevant to the man they will be marking (2). With individual instruction, we rehearse showing inside or outside, angles, threats and general approach.
• Setting up in an appropriate formation enables individual instruction in how players should approach and press opponents in an upcoming match situation
In a 60×30-yard playing area, the ball is played into one team, who pass it between themselves. Five opposition players now come across to press the ball. When possession is turned over, the ball must be passed back to the waiting pair (3a). Speed of transition here is important – the five working players must return to their half to help defend the ball, while five of the other team also move across to press in a new 7v5 (3b). Which team can react quickest? If the ball goes dead always restart with the team last out of possession.
• In the 7v7 game, five reds press their opponents in the other half, win the ball, then return it to the remaining two players
• When the transition occurs, team mates move back to support, while five blues now enter their opponents’ half to press
This is a played on a narrowed half-pitch plus penalty area. Each area requires players to play and behave in a certain way. The ability to press remains important, albeit whilst exploring other tactical qualities (4).
• Press to score area – In the top area, the emphasis is on pressing defenders on the ball at every opportunity. Winning possession in this area will always offer a great opportunity to create a goalscoring chance • Opportunity to score area – The second area is the space in which the greatest goal danger arises. Defenders must not give the ball away in this space, while attackers should always be looking to shoot if the ball comes to them here • Counter area – The Counter Area represents the space where our intention is to catch the opposition out of position. When turning over the ball here, we want to see only two or three touches before it is moved forward into the Opportunity to Score area • Shape area – The fourth area is where, when defending, we must never give the ball away
What are the key things to look out for?
Players need to understand who is around them – recognising the trigger and how play develops from that – as well as learning when to pass and when to go alone.
We also want good technique, communication and bravery. And, naturally, players must enjoy the session if they are to make the most of what it teaches them.
This session is about players developing their decision-making skills by executing our defending principles at the right times and in the right areas. It incorporates 1v1 defending, reading cues and triggers, making play predictable, and winning the ball back in the first, second or third lines. MORE
This session is all about building the defensive role of every position when out of possession. It starts with individuals defending in 1v1 and 3v2 situations and builds all the way through the units to whole team defending when out of possession. I like this session because all the problems posed to players are realistic to game situations. MORE
“…fantastic… I encourage all my coaches to read it,”