#Build and progress

8v8 team game: Building up through middle areas

FIFA Talent Coach Programme, 02 Jul 2024


This game focuses on a team’s ability to build and progress through central areas whilst facing a high press. The exercise simulates scenarios in a match where a team faces aggressive pressure from the opposition and must use clever movement and distribution to move the ball up the pitch.


The intention: What is practised?
This activity aims to enhance a team’s ability to build and progress when facing a high press. The team’s main focus is on making effective movements and creating passing lanes that help them build play through the field’s central areas. Because the objective of the exercise is to ensure the team’s build-up is highly efficient, the opposition must press intensely to create a real-game environment; as a result, a significant emphasis is also placed on the role of the pressing team.

The scale: For whom is this relevant? 
The game revolves around the team level, with a particular focus on building up under pressure. The exercise is particularly relevant to central players in the build-up, such as the goalkeeper, centre-backs, defensive midfielders and central midfielders. These central players must be comfortable with coming inside and trying to find a pass centrally between opposition lines. The activity is also relevant to the pressing team as their front line closes the centre-backs down, their midfielders shadow opposing players dropping to receive and the defensive line prepares to step up and intercept the ball where possible.

The practice type: How is the practice designed? 
The activity is designed so each team has their own coach that guides them through their specific roles. The coach of the in-possession team instructs how to progress the ball through the high press whereas the out-of-possession team’s coach ensures that the press is intense throughout the session. The activity also follows a rule that play should start from the in-possession team, allowing ample opportunities for both sides to practice their given roles. The defending team’s defensive third is shaped as a bottleneck, encouraging the attacking team to progress the ball towards the goal via the central channels.

Session plan


  • Mark out a 65m x 50m exercise area.

  • Place a full-size goal at either end and a goalkeeper in each goal.

  • Make one end of the exercise area narrower, as displayed in the image above.

  • Set up an 8v8 scenario (blues v. oranges).


  • The blues attack towards the narrower end of the exercise area.

  • The blues attempt to build up play and overcome the high press from the oranges.

  • If the oranges win possession, play continues and the blue team have press until regaining possession or the ball goes out of play. 

  • Play restarts from the blue goalkeeper to create more repetition of focus.

Key coaching points

Roles of coaches

  • First coachencourages and coaches the blues to build from the back.

  • Second coach: coaches and encourages the oranges to press high.

  • Third coach: supports the second coach and encourages the team out of possession to apply pressure.

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