Playing through midfield with confidence and precision is vital for any team - use this session to coach players how to receive, pass and work space, linking defence with attack. MORE
This session relies on the midfield four pressing around the halfway line. It involves movement up and across the pitch to intercept, and dynamic counter-attacking play.
I have always coached teams to make the most of opponents spreading high and wide in possession when in their own half. This session works on the forward part of the team setting the trap around the halfway line to regain possession while the opposition are open for the counter-attack.
We saw the principles of this session work perfectly when we played Tottenham Hotspur earlier this season at White Hart Lane. We pressed around the halfway line, intercepted and counter-attacked, winning ourselves an early penalty.
|Up to a half-pitch|
|Cones, goals, mannequins|
|Number of Players|
|Warm-up 15mins, Main session 20mins, 8v8 game 15mins|
We begin with a warm-up, as shown (1a), on a 20×15-yard pitch. The ball starts with the red team in the bottom box; they pass it amongst themselves, moving the ball quickly and looking for the opportunity to break the lines in playing it across to the other team. One point is scored each time they successfully breach the midfield line in passing to the other four reds.
We play for two minutes then invite four resting midfielders to swap with the active midfielders.
Midfielders must move across as a unit, stopping any pass through them. The nearest player to the ball is always the man who is forwards and backwards, pressing (1b), while other players must be alert to covering the space vacated. The ultimate aim is to invite the ball wide where it is pressed and knocked out of play (1c).
Setting up as shown (2a), we play five red attackers against four blue defenders. Blues pass the ball across the pitch, and after exchanging passes, make forward progress in towards the mannequins. This is the trigger for the red defenders to step in, press (2b), and counter-attack using their midfield player, with the intention of scoring in the goal (2c).
Attackers are looking to score with pace. Defenders must look to retain possession for as long as possible, then when the ball is lost, know how to recover quickly and efficiently. Rotate players frequently.
We play a simple 8v8 on a 70×50-yard area, with both teams playing 2-4-2. The principles of the practice should be adopted in this game with midfielders pressing, winning back possession and releasing front players for an attack.