What is pressing in football?
We explore what pressing is, why it matters and how you can help your team develop this essential football skill.
In football, pressing is when pressure is applied on the player or the team that’s in possession. It’s a skill used in all areas of the pitch – to win the ball back, dictate play, or delay the opposition.
Pressing happens at all levels, too. Whether it’s a game down the local park or under the iconic Wembley arch. Sure, our England teams have highly sophisticated game plans – plans that drastically differ from those in the grassroots game. But that’s fine. Pressing appears in lots of different ways and looks quite different through the ages and stages of development.
So, what can pressing look like? Here are some sample scenarios.
- A primary-age player simply shows desire and enthusiasm to run after an opponent that’s on the ball.
- A player reacts to a ‘trigger’ that suggests there’s a chance to win possession – such as a poor first touch or pass.
- A player loses the ball but immediately applies pressure on their opponent (an approach called ‘counter pressing’).
- A team coordinate their movements to apply pressure, make play predictable and eventually win the ball back.
To see pressing in action, watch the video below.