#Press and regain

8v8 attack v. defence: Pressing the goal kick

FIFA Talent Coach Programme, 04 Jun 2024


This attack v. defence exercise focuses on a team’s ability to press and regain possession from a goal kick. The drill simulates an out-of-possession team applying a high, intense press that aims to prevent the opposition from building play from the goalkeeper and playing through central areas of the pitch.


The intention: What is practised?
The exercise aims to enhance a team’s ability to press and regain possession. It focuses on coordinated pressing from the front and awareness of team-mates’ actions to cover for each other. Key principles include quickly reorganising to re-establish pressing shape, closing down opponents, and shutting off central passing lanes by forcing them wide. The objective is to press with intensity and aggression to prevent the opposition from playing out from the back. At the player level, the focus is on timing the press and identifying triggers, such as when an opponent contacts the ball to pass.

The scale: For whom is this relevant? 
This attack vs defence game emphasises the team scale and pressing the opposition from goal kicks when operating in a 4-4-2 system. The exercise is particularly relevant to the players in this narrow pressing system starting with the front 2 forwards that look to press and shut off the opposing defender’s routes with the right-sided attacker pressing from the moment the goalkeeper passes to the left centre-back and the left-sided attacker shifting across to block passes back inside. The right-sided midfielder must wait for the left centre-back to make contact with the ball and then press the left-back with the other midfielders shifting across. The action should be replicated on the opposite side, if the right centre-back is played to first. One centre-back stays tight on the number 9 and should they drop, they must follow with the other centre-back covering the space left. 

The practice type: How is the practice designed? 
The exercise involves an attack versus defence game on a reduced-sized pitch, offering numerous opportunities to practice pressing, defending, and transitioning into attack. The smaller pitch ensures the team is positioned high and set up for an intense press. Reduced player numbers give the in-possession team some space, increasing the demands on the pressing team. Repeated goal kicks help the team sharpen their press, improving coordination and cohesion. Mini-goals provide direction for the attacking team. The exercise is position-specific, with players performing defined roles. By the end, the team should be better coordinated and operate as a tighter unit.

Session plan


  • More than a half full-size pitch is used, with a mini-goal placed on the furthest point of the centre circle and 2 mini-goals on the halfway line. 

  • Bring the touchlines in by 10m and mark them out with cones.

  • Place a full-size goal at one end of the exercise area. 

  • Divide the group into 2 teams of 8 (oranges and blues). 

  • Set the blues up in a 4-2-2 formation and the oranges in a 2-4-2 system.


  • The exercise starts with the blues’ goalkeeper in possession.

  • The blues’ objective is to build up from the back and score in any of the 3 mini-goals.

  • The oranges must press high to try to gain possession and score  in the full-size goal.

  • When the ball goes out of play or a goal is scored, play restarts with a goal kick for the blues.


  • A blue-team player switches teams to create a 7v9 scenario.

Key coaching points

Roles of coaches

  • First coach: instructs the players about how to press effectively throughout the exercise and delivers a team talk to the blues during the mid-exercise break.

  • Second coach: prior to the exercise, uses the whiteboard to explain to the oranges how they should set up to press before reinforcing the pressing techniques during the mid-exercise break.

  • Third coach: offers players on both teams encouragement from their position on one side of the exercise area.

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