Wing pressure

If you want to be rock solid at the back, use this activity to teach your team to use pressing techniques to keep play out on the wings and away from the goal. This teaches pressing cues and encourages pressing on the flanks, so when a team is under attack they can keep play on the wings and stop direct attacks.

Set up

Set up a 60×55 yard area, with two wide channels of five yards. We’ve used 12 players.

How to play it

Pick a defending team of five plus a keeper. They play against an attacking team of five (two are in the half with the goal) plus a target player. The target player always starts and must play into a team-mate in the same half. Attackers score in the goal and defenders score by passing to the target player.
The white attacking team are locked into their starting zones and only one of them can be in the wide channels when the ball is wide. The red defending team may move freely. Offside is enforced. Allow each team eight repetitions and swap.


Coaches should focus on: defenders reading cues before the ball is served, arriving at or before the receiver’s first touch; defenders taking an angle of approach that denies options and protects vulnerable areas; and recovery if the press fails.


    1. The white attacking team must stay in their starting zones and only one attacker can be in the wide channels when the ball is wide
    2. The target player starts every ball except free-kicks and must play to a team-mate in the defensive half. The aim for the attackers is to score in the goal
    3. The red defending team has free movement and players should read passing and receiving cues to decide whether to press or hold

Win the ball back

    4. While the nearest defender presses the player with the ball, the second and third defenders adjust to cover for the pressing defender, denying passing angles and marking possible receivers
    5. Because the nearest defender couldn’t arrive before the receiver’s first touch, he holds, closes down passing options, and moves to squeeze the game into a tight space where the defenders are numerically superior

defend the wings

    6. Now that the attack is forced into a predictable pass, the defenders can press, win the ball and counter to score
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