Pressing initiation


Half pitch plus 15 yards


Balls, cones, goals

No. of players

10v10 Plus two keepers

Session time

60 mins

This session coaches players on understanding defensive pressing. It’s important to practise the key elements to identify how, when and where we can apply pressing technique, and that includes adopting the right shape tactically and togetherness of the group, as well as being able to identify the right moment to closedown.

We see the benefits of this session paying off every week–indeed, good pressing technique is central to the intense brand of football we play.

What do I get the players to do?

We divide our practice area into three, with three poles(five yards wide) spaced out evenly at one end, and a full-size goal at the other. There are two teams of 10, plus keepers.

Yellows attack the top goal, while reds score by passing through the poles at the other end of the pitch. Pressing opponents closely at all times is imperative (1a).


• The red player successfully presses the yellow defender

There are no more than three passes allowed in each area and players are limited to three touches each.Reds must spread out and switch play, making use of all three areas. They score one point for scoring through the poles and three points if the keeper can anticipate which gate the ball will be scored through by gathering.

Yellow defenders must press at every opportunity, closing down space in front of attackers and jockeying opponents in looking to force an interception or error. We condition the practice so that if the ball is in one wide channel, the team out of possession must vacate the opposite channel (1b). Not only does this encourage plenty of opposition players near to the play and the opportunity to press tightly, but when the ball is switched back to the ‘empty’ flank, it quickly tests defenders’ ability to regroup, close down and, hopefully, intercept (1c).


• He forces the yellow to make a long cross-field pass, which means all reds must vacate the opposite wide channel


• Their intention to press quickly and with purpose immediately prompts an interception, and a threaded pass to the keeper sees the reds score three points

What are the key things to look out for?

This session is all about decision-making, so defenders must communicate well with each other at all times. As soon as the ball is moved to a new area of the pitch, defenders must regroup and press quickly.

How do I progress the practice?

We can progress this practice by adding normal goals instead of poles. We can also increase the size of the middle area to make the challenge more difficult for the defending team.


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement