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Two teenage male players try to win the ball.

Intercepting session: defend for glory

Chris Lowe, FA regional PE officer, shares a session that encourages players to win the ball high up the pitch.
Session plan graphic

Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan and give it a go.


This practice is a small-sided game played in a 5v5 format, including goalkeepers.

To set up, create a pitch suitable for your players’ age and developmental stage and place a goal at each end. This can be adapted for any space, whether that’s a full pitch, a third, or a quarter.

Once a suitable pitch is set up, split it into thirds using flat spot markers.

The aim of the game is to win the ball high up the pitch by pressing and intercepting.

The players take part in a normal game, but with a different scoring system.

If a team wins the ball in their own defensive third and score, they get one point. If they do that in the middle third, they get two points. And three points are awarded if they win possession in their attacking third and score.

The same scoring system applies if players win the ball by tackling their opponent. As the coach, you can reinforce the session’s focus by encouraging players to scan and anticipate the actions of others. This will help them to intercept passes.


If your players master your activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. You could: 

  • award double points if the ball was won via an interception and the team goes on to score
  • flip the scoring system around – three points for winning possession in your defensive third, one point for doing so in the attacking third – to change the focus to working in a low block.

Whatever you do, remember that learning takes time. So don’t alter your activity too quickly – or too much. Try using the STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002). This helps keep things fun, engaging and appropriate.

Want more info on this session? Watch our: 

Once you’ve put this session into practice, share your experience on the England Football Community.