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Young players play football
SESSION

Pressing session: press for success

Ryan Davies, FA physical education officer, shares a session that focuses on pressing high up the pitch.

This session helps players to:   

  • press with intensity in the final third  

  • work in units and as a team to win the ball back quickly  

  • identify and react to triggers from the opposition and teammates to inform successful decision-making.  

JUMP TO:

Session plan

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

 

Organisation

Set up a pitch that suits the age and needs of your players. Split it into thirds and place a goal at each end.  

For this practice, we have a 6v6 – with each team having a goalkeeper, but you can adapt the numbers to suit your players. If you have a large group, set up as many areas as needed.  

You will also need a few footballs to ensure there's a quick restart if the ball goes out or a goal is scored.  

 

How to play

As with a standard game, both teams look to score as many goals as possible.  

To encourage high-pressing and a drive to regain possession quickly, offer the following incentive: if a team scores after winning the ball back in their attacking third, they're rewarded with three goals instead of one.  

Unlike a normal game though, there are no throw-ins or corners in this practice. So, if a player does kick the ball out, the game automatically restarts with their goalkeeper. They must then pass to one of their players in their own defensive third to try and build up an attack. However, this poses a risk, as their teammate could be under pressure by an opponent, who will be seeking to win the ball high up the pitch to get the reward of extra goals.  

If a goal is scored, play is restarted by that team's goalkeeper. So, if 'Team A' scores, they have to rush back to their own keeper to try to build up another attack, while 'Team B' pushes forward to close them down quickly.  

 

Progression

If your players master this game – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. Here are some examples.  

  • The defending team can't try to win the ball back until the opposition enters the middle third. This helps players to work on the mid-block.   
  • The defending team can't try to win the ball back until the opposition enters the final third This helps players to work on the low-block.   

But remember, learning takes time. So don't alter your activity too quickly or too much. To help, try using the STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002). This is a great way to keep things fun, engaging and appropriate.  
  
If you use this session with your team, let us know how you get on by posting in the England Football Community