How to build a football session: pressing
Using the STEP framework, we drill down into how to design football pressing sessions.
Pressing sessions: the basics
First up, here are some essential ingredients. When designing a session, try to:
- use small-sided games
- prioritise fun
- get creative.
These elements help maximise learning and encourage your team to fall in love with the game.
Once you’ve got the basics down, the next step is to tailor your sessions to meet the needs of your players. The STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002) can help you do this, and it focuses on four key areas: space, task, equipment and players.
Here, Amanda Greenslade, FA regional PE officer, explores how to use this framework in your football pressing session.
In any session, the space you use is key. It helps determine how successful and enjoyable an activity is and even influences your players’ understanding.
When practising pressing, use an area appropriate to your team’s age and ability. Take into account their current pitch size and make sure the space is game-realistic.
For example, try asking your team to press for a distance equal to around one-quarter of their playing area. This mirrors what players need to do in a match. It also means you don’t overload them with running, which can affect their enjoyment.
If you create an unrealistic space (e.g. one that demands players press for very long distances), your practice won’t reflect what actually happens in football.
Finally, if you’re working with a novice team, try reducing the size of your space and the distance they need to press. This will make it easier to get to the ball.
If a session focuses on pressing, your players will work at speed and over varying distances. This can be very physically demanding.
So, when structuring tasks, try to build rest periods into your session. It’s also a good idea to maximise fun. A great way to do this is to reward positive behaviours. For example, praise your players whenever they press with speed and intensity. You could also add an element of competition, such as awarding two goals if a team uses pressing to win the ball and then goes on to score.
Pressing sessions are an excellent opportunity to get creative with your equipment.
For instance, why not try using different coloured cones and zones? You can ask players to press in a way that blocks off one colour and then the other. This will encourage them to use different types of runs and to alter their body shape.
When organising a pressing session for your football team, it’s essential to recognise that you need to cater for players with varying levels of ability. You want to encourage success, but you also want to challenge them.
Using underloads and overloads is a simple technique that helps to manage difference. Splitting your group into two unequal teams will encourage the side with fewer players to have to press more. Just be sure to keep an eye on your team numbers – as making a session too hard will discourage pressing behaviours.