Support worker

This training session is a great fun way of introducing and explaining the concepts of defensive pressure and support play to young players. This is for younger players with limited knowledge of the role of the first and second defenders. It starts with how players press the ball and progresses to adding covering players.

Set up

Set up a 30×20-yard area split into four 15×10-yard zones. Each area has one cone situated centrally at the start line, plus two cones on the middle line with a ball on each. We’ve used 12 players.

How to play it

Start with a race to the ball on the halfway line – the first player to jump over a ball wins. Players compete with rivals in the opposite square.
In the second set-up the two middle players pass – or dribble – the ball to each other, holding onto it for three seconds before each pass. Play is unopposed and defenders have to take up the correct positions. Switch roles after the ball has been transferred 10 times.
The third set-up is the same but the players with the ball can shoot. If they score they swap with defenders.


Coaches should be looking for the first defender to put pressure on the ball and the second defender to be in a position where they can block forward penetration.

    1. Players must beat the opposite player to the cone and jump over the ball – if they run to the same cone one must give way and run to the other
    2. The team in possession should play or dribble the ball to each other ten times while the pressing team assume their defensive positions without tackling

    3. Good communication is key. If you’re pressing high with forwards applying the pressure, it a great motivation tool for those players who don’t like pulling their weight defensively
    4. It is important for the players out of possession to curve their runs to block any forward penetration

    5. Now players in possession should take the chance to shoot if possible. If the pressuring player doesn’t drop into the covering position quick enough it leaves a gap to penetrate
    6. The team out of possession must try to keep the pressure on the attackers by moving across the pitch to close off any gaps they could shoot through
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