Pressing masterclass



Up to 60x44 yards


Balls, cones

No. of players


Session time

Extended warm-up 18mins, Possession v pressing game 16mins, Three-team practice 27mins incl. progressions

The session is comprised of a variety of high intensity practices which focus on pressing as a team and transitional play.

Beginning with a small-area warm-up, it is enlarged into two game set-ups. We regard the key tactical elements practised as vital for all players in all positions although, as you would expect, particular attention is given to the defending/pressing team, who must work together to hunt the ball down.

What do I get the players to do?

Extended warm-up

We set up as shown (1), in three 7×7-yard boxes, with three reds inside each. The first blue defender plays to any red, then presses in a 3v1. Reds must make 10 passes to win the challenge. If successful, or if the blue defender wins the ball, the game finishes and the next blue begins. After each round scores are taken and blue teams move clockwise to the next box. After all blues have pressed in all boxes, switch teams.


• In the Extended Warm-up, three boxes are set up side-by-side, with blues passing in before moving forward to press the ball against three reds

To progress, we restrict touches of the ball. This gives defenders less or more time to close down, meaning the challenge can be made less or more difficult.

What are the key things to look out for?

We want to see pressure on the ball, cover and support, good communication and recovery runs, with players recognising when to press and when to drop – that means an appreciation of distances, and positions of team mates and opponents. So we must see quality passing, angles and quick movement.

Possession v pressing game

Now setting up 9v9, as shown (2a), it’s reds versus blues in one half with the three remaining blues in the other. Reds look to maintain possession against six pressing players. When blues turn over they transfer the ball quickly to the three team mates in the other half (2b). Now a new pressing challenge begins in the other half. A point is scored on each turnover providing a successful pass is made into the other half.


• In Possession v Pressing, six blues press in the red half and manage to turn over possession


• The ball is transferred to the other half of the pitch, and a point is scored. Now the balance shifts and a new 9v6 game is created in the other half, with reds pressing the ball

Three-team practice

In the same area we now use three teams of six – the practice begins with yellows pressing (3a). Reds and blues must retain possession for two minutes. If yellows turn over possession they score a point, with a second available for five consecutive passes. Each team takes it in turns to press the ball.


• In the Three-team practice it’s 6v6v6, with reds and blues successfully keeping the ball away from yellows

To progress, the two teams in possession can only pass to an opposite colour (e.g. reds to blues). If a pass accidentally goes to the pressing team or the ball is intercepted, that team receives a point and continues with the ball (3b).


• In the progression, yellows intercept and now partner with blues. Blues can only pass back to the opposite team (yellows), so reds respond by pressing yellows