Pressing in middle third – Small-Sided Game


This small-sided game places the previous exercises, and the players’ understanding of them, in a game situation.

Players win the ball back in the middle third to be able to play forward and create goal-scoring opportunities.


Use a quarter of a field split into three zones, the middle zone bigger than the end zones. Two goals are placed at opposite ends.


Split your players into two teams of six and set them into realistic positions – a 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 9. The team in possession must look to keep the ball and play forward to score. The defending team must press the ball effectively to win possession.

If the defending team wins the ball in the middle third, they must keep possession for at least three seconds to be awarded three bonus points. Neither team is restricted to zones.

The team in possession can score from anywhere in the middle or attacking third of the pitch.


1. Divide the pitch into three zones and play 6v6. Players are free to move anywhere.

2. The team in possession can score from either the middle or attacking thirds.

3. The team out-of-possess ion work together to press the ball. If they win possession in the middle third, they must then retain the ball for at least three seconds for three bonus points.


Are the midfield three staying compact when out of possession? Is the closest player to the ball pressing quickly and with the right techniques? Are all players using the four Ds (delay, deny, direct and defend) when pressing?

If not, stop the play when one of these moments occurs and ask the players if they can identify the problem and look to them to fix it.


Take away the middle zone for the last 10 minutes of the game – are players still looking to win the ball back in the middle of the field? If yes, still award three bonus points.

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