Keep the pressure on!

Aggressive pressing in the opponent's half of the field is a high-pressure situation, in which the defenders invade the attackers' half and prevent them from building their attack. The key to accomplishing this is to keep the opposition under constant pressure! Only through directed, systematic training can a team master this demanding strategy.

Objectives

The ultimate goal of an aggressive pressing strategy is to score early and throw the opposition off its rhythm. Instead of holding back to wait for the attack, the pressing team takes the initiative as quickly as possible. Specifically:

  • Constant pressure, the player with the ball.
  • Double-teaming the player with the ball.
  • Aggressively preventing dribbling and forward passes. 
  • Forcing sideways or backwards passes.
  • Reacting instantly, as a team, to loss of possession with instant, balanced pressure.

When executed properly. aggressive pressing puts the opposing team on the defensive, and often weakens its morale - especially of the result is a quick goal! Ideally, the opponent loses complete control of the game.

Requirements

Physical standards

Because pressing players are frequently playing 1 v. 1, constantly re-orienting themselves and running to the ball, they must have a high fitness level and should be especially strong in the following areas:

  • explosive (anaerobic) speed
  • endurance
  • agility and coordination
  • sustained (aerobic) speed

Technical/Tactical skills

Full-field high pressure requires individual players, groups, and the entire team to be able to:

  • switch quickly from attack to defense
  • recognize when to press
  • coordinate their movements when pushing out of its own half
  • rely on the goalkeeper to help prevent counterattacks
  • play decisive combinations after winning the ball.

Mindset

Mental state always affects play, but it's especially important for full-field pressure. First and foremost, the team must believe in the strategy. Beyond that, mental flexibility, courage, a willingness to take risks, a "positive-aggressive" attitude, an ability to focus, and willingness to cooperate all play important roles in achieving the objectives listed above. It's the coach's job to help players develop these qualities.

Drills 1 and 2, Drills 3, 4 and 5