Pressing and Trapping with Forwards

The following training session comes from 2015 Soccer Champions Coaches' Clinic Featured Presenter, Amanda Cromwell.

Amanda Cromwell is the head coach of UCLA women’s soccer. Cromwell led UCLA to the national championship in 2013. Full Bio


An essential part of team defense tactics is pressing and trapping in the attacking third.

Attacking player pressing is an aggressive form of pressing. It's objective is to completely trap opponents inside their own half, in order to either win the ball or force opponents to play long, uncontrolled passes. Your opponents are constantly under pressure, without time or space to build an attack. One misplaced pass in front of their goal can create an opening for a shooter.

Set-up: 10 x 12 grids, 3 v 2 going to endline. Ball starts with deeper defender.

Explanation: The second defender plays the ball to any attacking player. The attacking player must take 2 touches before they pass it. The 2nd defender cannot communicate with the first defender. The first defender must take looks to decide how and where to pressure the ball. The 3 attackers try to possess to dribble over the endline.

Coaching Points: First defender decisions, take looks, don't have to win it, press when together, read other cues, time to trap (near sideline, have cover), create 1 v 2

Progression: Below


Set-up: 20 x 12 grids, double the length of the above grid, add a midline. 3 v 3 going to endline. Ball starts with defender.

Explanation: Either of the defenders plays the ball to any attacker. The purpose is for the 2 defenders to work together to press, trap and make any pass predictable. The 3rd defender has to stray on the defensive half of the field and read the ball lines. The 3 attackers try to possess to dribble over the endline.

Coaching Points: Communication, create 2 v 3 scenario, take looks, trap to sideline, only split because forcing to 3rd defender

Progression: Give attacking players restrictions if too direct and want to give defenders a chance to get into shape.


Set-up: One 45 x 30 grid, 10 v 5, Ball starts with coach outside grid

Explanation: The defending team tries to win as many balls as possible in 2.5 minutes. The 2 attacking teams work together to possess. When the defenders win it they kick the ball out of bounds and a new ball starts from the coach. Each team rotates to be the defensive unit.

Coaching Points: Communication, making play predictable, cutting the grid in half, times to press and times to be patient and regroup.

Progression: After first 3 rotations, play 1.5 minute segments to see if increased work-rate will have better results. (Take away fatigue factor).


Set-up: Full field with a marked line of confrontation. 11 v 11 with the ball starting with the GK.

Explanation: The attacking teams plays to goal while the defending team organizes their shape in order to win the ball. The forwards try to make it predictable for the players behind them by engaging at the line of confrontation and forcing one direction. When the defensive team wins the ball they have one counter opportunity then it will start with the GK again.

Coaching Points: Cut the field in half, make predictable, intercept passes, make player on ball put head down, recognize cues to press

Progression: After many repetitions go to live play where the defensive team can only intercept passes and bad touches, no tackle. Attacking team has a 3 touch restriction.