Pressing rondo

If you want to improve your team’s defensive performance, use this activity to teach players when to press and when to hold, so they can control play even if they don’t have possession.
This teaches players when they should press or hold, so during a match they can control play without the ball and so they don’t dive in with an ill-judged tackle and allow attackers past.

Set up

Set up a 60×50 yard areas with two 15-yard end zones. We’ve used 10 players.

How to play it

Place a target player at both ends and play 4v4 in the middle. Start with a pass from a target man to a player who enters the end zone to collect it. Each team tries to move the ball from one end to the other, playing it to a runner in the end zone who scores by passing to the target. The target player returns the ball to the scoring team who attack in the opposite direction. All points must be scored with passes made in the end zone. If the ball is won in the middle, the team can counterattack; if it is stopped in the end zone, it results in a turnover, starting with the opposite target player.


Defending players should read the pass so they reach the receiver before his first touch. Other defenders should take up positions that prevent passes that endanger the goal.

    1. The target player starts by playing the ball into the defensive zone. A player runs into the zone to collect it
    2. Defenders should read passing and receiving cues and also assess their team-mates positioning to determine if they can press or if they need to hold
    3. If the defenders nearest to the ball cannot arrive before the receiver’s first touch in the end zone, they move to close down the attacking options and make it harder for the player on the ball to pass

    4. If the defenders can press, they move quickly together to force a mistake or win the ball and begin a counterattack

    5. Here the whites counter by playing the ball to a teammate who runs onto the ball in the end zone and passes to the target player for a point
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