Win the ball back game

A good defence will be able to pressure its opponent into making a mistake. The rule of this session is that the nearest player to the ball must go to pressure the player in possession.

What to think about

  • In youth development, it is important to teach your players good foundations that become habit as they grow into adult players.
  • Teaching your team to apply high-pressing techniques when defending not only increases the pressure on the opposition but also improves work rate, concentration and attitude to defending.


Session – 15 minutes

Use two teams at a time, consisting of three players each. One group is the passers. This group passes the ball to each other and then, when an opportunity arises, the players try to make a forward pass into the mini goals.

The nearest defender to the passer in possession must go toward him to add pressure.

The defenders cannot tackle. They are only allowed to block forward passes into the goals.

When the nearest defender goes to pressure, the other defenders must take up covering positions to stop other passers from creating a chance to score. The attackers and defenders should be changed after one minute. Set up more areas for other players to work as well or rotate teams regularly in the area.

Development – 15 minutes

Use two teams with six players in each.

One team works as the passers with three players going into each half of the pitch as in the middle picture.

The other team defends but players work in pairs. They take turns to:

  • Rest.
  • Work in the central zone as blocking players.
  • Work as pressing defenders to win the ball.

The game starts with one of the passing teams in possession of the ball. The aim is to make a pass across the centre to their team mates in the other half. The defenders send two players to press the three passers, with two additional defenders in the central zone to block the through pass.

If the ball gets through, the defenders in the central zone turn and press while the two resting defenders run into the central zone to become new blockers. The initial pressing defenders now rest.

Game situation – 15 minutes

Play a small-sided game as in the bottom picture. One team tries to keep the ball using both goalkeepers to give them a two-player overload. This team scores a point for every six passes they complete.

The other team pressures and on regaining the ball, they try to score in either goal to gain a point. Swap roles of each team after a few minutes so everyone has a turn at being a pressurising defender.

This game is from Soccer Smart Sessions.

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