Defending and Getting Pressure on the Ball

By Sean Reed – 


This session focuses on defending sessions, working with players in 1v1, 2v2 and 4v4 situations.

Session 1


Diagram 1

Set Up

  • Working with 12 players
  • Players are working within 3’s
  • Each areas is approx 30 yds x 10yds
  • 2 players will start at either end and 1 player who is defending will start approx 20yds from the player they are defending
  • The ball is played from player (target player) in the red bib, into the player in the black bib and the player in the yellow bib will then close the player in the black bib down. See diagram 1
  • Once the ball has gone past the defending player they can then accelerate to close the attacking player down
  • The attacking player is looking to play a pass back into the target player (can not play the pass 1st time)
  • The defending player is looking to force a mistake, work the ball out of the area
  • The rotation is then – the player who passed (red bib) becomes the defender, the player who was the defender (yellow bib) becomes the attacker and the player who was attacking (black bib) then becomes the player who passes


  • The attacking player is looking to dribble across the opposite line
  • Change which side the defending player starts from

Coaching Points

  • Acceleration to get up to the ball
  • Deceleration on approach – manage distances to stop pass forward and adjust if attacking player looks to push past and run
  • Body shape side on and prepared for next movement
  • Get the attacking players head down
  • Use the touch line as another defender
  • Force attacking player onto weaker side when possible
  • Be confident and manage the situation

Session 2


Diagram 2

Set Up

  • Working with 12 players
  • The area 30yds x 20yds (approx)
  • Players are working in 2’s
  • 2 players passing (target players) 2 players defending, 2 players attacking. See diagram 2
  • 2 v 2 Defending session with the attacking players looking to play a pass into target players
  • The game starts with the target players, as pass is played across and then forward on the angle
  • The defenders positioned approx 20yds from the attacking players can close down once the ball has traveled past them
  • The attacking players must take at least 1 touch before they can play into the target players
  • The rotation continues as within the previous session


  • Change the starting position of the defenders
  • Add in a rule where both players must touch the ball before playing into target players (if too easy for them)
  • To score attacking players must dribble the ball across the attacking line

Coaching Points

  • As before
  • Nearest player to the ball
  • 2nd Defender – support, cover and prevent forward pass on the angle
  • Position to enable them to get up to the ball when played across to the other attacking player
  • Identify when to track and when to passing players on
  • Avoid getting caught in a straight line
  • Looking to isolate the attacking players

Session 3


Diagram 3

Set Up

  • Arrow head defending
  • 12 players
  • 3 teams of 4 player
  • 12 grids 5yds x 5yds
  • 2 attacking teams positioned either end. Each player must remain in their grid
  • 1 defending team in the middle grids, they can cross over into their own teams grids
  • The defending team can not enter the grid of an attacking player
  • A goal is scored when one attacking team can play a pass through to the other attacking team (below knee height)
  • Attacking players are restricted to 2 touch
  • Team will defend for approx 60 -90 seconds

Coaching Points

  • Mirroring the movement of the ball
  • Maintain distances
  • Nearest player up to the ball (player in front of them)
  • 2nd, 3rd and 4th defending supporting and covering round
  • Preventing forward passes and being split
  • In a position to adjust and get up to the ball if and when required
  • Communication
  • Switching on if the ball is played through, immediate pressure to help other players recover

By Sean Reed

Former First Team Coach of Championship side Fulham FC. Sean is a UEFA A Coach with a Masters in Sport Coaching. He has over 15 years of experience working in professional football from Academy through to First team in the Premiership and Championship.

Web –
Twitter – @SeanJReed

About the Author Tom Mura

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