Play Like England – Pressing

1. Warm Up – ‘Box Trap’ 20 minutes


  • Numbers in the box can vary depending on age, ability and players available e.g. 4 v 1, 5 v 2, 3 v 1, 6 v 3
  • Outside players combine to keep the football in the square
  • Inside players look to press and spoil the ball
  • If the ball leaves the square the ball is dead
  • The player who made the mistake of giving away possession AND the player to their left go in the middle to defend


  • 10 passes = goal for attackers
  • If the defenders win possession in the first 7 seconds = 1 goal
  • If the defender wins the ball cleanly and makes a pass to their team mate = 2 goals
  • ADVANCED – if the attackers play a pass through the middle of the two defenders = -1 goal

Key Tips

  • The nearest defender shuts down the attacker in possession
  • The second defender blocks the attackers most obvious pass
  • Press quickly with intelligence

2. Pressing as a unit – 20 minutes


  • Numbers on outside may vary dependent on numbers available
  • 3 v 1 in the middle box including the football which starts with the 3 attackers
  • The defenders sole job is to spoil the ball and force it out the mini box
  • Once the ball has left the mini box the attackers situated in the bigger box take possession of the ball
  • This triggers the 3 players in the mini box to become active defenders and press the ball (these defenders are not allowed to run through the mini box again)
  • The attackers (White in diagram) job is to keep possession and try to feed the ball into their playmaker who is inside the mini box as many times as possible
  • The role of defender is to press the ball as a unit win the ball and keep possession against the overload
  • If the ball leaves the bigger box, the practice restarts
  • Coach ensures everyone rotates roles

Key Tips

  • Press quickly and work hard
  • Press TOGETHER
  • The nearest defender presses the ball (whilst blocking the pass into the playmaker)
  • The other 2 defenders support behind and block obvious passing lanes
  • Maintain triangle press

3. Pressing from the front – 20 minutes


  • 4 defenders start in the mini area as well as the attacking playmaker (Red in diagram)
  • A back 3 on each side is put in place RB / LB / CB
  • The role of Red players is to maintain possession and either switch the point of attack and play to the opposite 3 (pass down the sides) OR play into the playmaker who plays out to the other side
  • 2 defenders are assigned to defend north, 2 are assigned to defend south
  • The defender’s role is to spoil the ball or force the attackers to play down the side: their PRIMARY OBJECTIVE is to stop the ball going into the playmaker


  • START NON CONTACT to reinforce shape and principles of defending

Key Tips

  • The nearest defender presses the ball down the line of the playmaker to stop the forward pass
  • Closest defender also shows the ball player where to play with their open / closed body shape
  • The secondary defender again blocks the pass into the playmaker and supports from a deeper position
  • If the ball is played square, then roles reverse
  • Press the ball aggressively ONLY if the ball player does not have controlled possession
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