Pressing can be defined as the elimination of space and time by the defending team, through quick and immediate action. The goal of pressing is to delay the attacking team a route to go forward, while working as a unit to win the ball back. Pressing from the front takes place in the opposition’s half, as opposed to the general concept of pressing or pressure, which more or less refers to anywhere on the field. This is a guide to some of the key coaching points to pressing for 9v9 players.
Key Coaching Point: Striker First To Press
Two wingers, one striker and one central midfielder combine to create a diamond shape in defense. This shape needs to be maintained throughout the press. Striker should be first to press on goal kicks and should curve their run toward the player. Immediate and quick action is required. Near-sided winger offers support in behind and covers the wide option. If the striker cannot get there in time, the near-sided winger is the first to press instead. Elsewhere on the field, the closest to the ball should be the first one to press.
Key Coaching Point: Far-Sided Winger Closes The Middle
Far-sided winger shifts to the middle to offer support and close down potential passing options back across goal. Nearest central midfielder (because we play with two) completes the diamond and covers in behind, closing down space and preventing forward passing options.
Key Coaching Point: Force to the Inside
In the opposition half, the player leading the press needs to force the player on the ball back toward their own goal (inside).
The body angle of the first player to press needs to be slanted to cut off the outside. The run of this player also needs to be curved rather than straight to set them up for this angle. Diamond shape is maintained as we force the defender toward a dangerous area, where one of our players is waiting to pounce.
Key Coaching Point: Pressing in the 3-2-3 or 3-4-1
Of course this becomes more complicated with all 18 players on the field. In the 3-2-3 or 3-4-1 formation, both central midfielders need to be active and ready to press depending on the shifting of the ball from left to right. The back-three remains compact and patient, holding a line together and occupying the opposition’s striker. There is no need for them to be involved in the press until the ball crosses our half. If the ball somehow finds its way to the opposite side, the same four players should be involved in the press, except the change of central midfielder. This means that quick and immediate action is required from all front five players in shifting with the play.
In a formation that involves two strikers, such as a 3-3-2 or 2-4-2, the near-sided winger, one central midfielder and both strikers can complete the press. The near-sided striker will still press as the winger and midfielder cover. The other striker then closes the middle to create balance and complete the diamond shape.
Pressing is one of the key concepts in the modern game and as such is a crucial session topic for any coach at any level. This guide provides some of the key factors and coaching points to pressing from the front including which players are involved and the general roles and responsibilities of each player. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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