High Press

 Detailed Overview

High press sketch

In many ways, we should call this lionesses on the hunt. This method of attack is based on us assessing where in the opponent's defense they have a player or players with weak trapping and or passing skills that we can take advantage of. In this example, we have identified that the opponent's right center back does not trap the ball well. When the center back receives her next pass our right forward rapidly closes on her in a manner to turn her to our left and she yells our "press left". We want to force her to play in a predictable direction that we can control. Our attacking midfielder closes on the center back at the same time as our right forward closing off passing options in the center of the field in order to force the center back to pass to our left. The attacking midfielder is also calling out "press left" so the entire team can support this attack. Our left forward rapidly closes on the opponent's right back anticipating that is where the pass is going. The center back frantically passes outside to her right back while our left forward and attacking midfielder rapidly double team her and gain control of the ball. Where this pass it going from the center back to the right back all of the Rage players step between the player they are marking and the right back who is about to receive the ball. As a team we have now cut off all of her passing options and left her alone double teamed by our left forward and attacking midfielder. The only two Rage players not between their player and the ball are our center back and other side outside back. They drop back to mitigate the threat of the other team passing deep into our defending half. The right forward who started all of this moves to a position that creates the best scoring opportunity anticipating us regaining possession of the ball. Either our left forward or attacking midfielder regain possession of the ball and either rapidly dribble towards the next and score or more likely pass it to the right forward who scores. 

Decision Criteria to Execute

Our approach to this really is like a pack of lionesses hunting a zebra. We must analyze the herd and pick out the weakest animal in the herd. In this case, we are looking for the opponent's defender with the weakest trapping and passing skills. Our team as a whole must anticipate this opportunity is coming. Our decision criteria are:

  • Opponent has a defender who is poor at trapping and passing
  • She is passed a ball that will likely be a challenge for her to control and play
  • Our two forwards and attacking midfielder are in our attacking third ready to high press
  • Our midfielders and defenders are aware and in position to support high press

Detailed Method (Step by Step)

  1. Our forwards and attacking midfielder anticipate opponent's selected defender is going to receive a challenging pass
  2. Right forward calls out "press left" and closes on target forcing her to play outside
  3. Attacking midfielder calls out "press left" and closes on the target forcing her to play outside
  4. Left forward closes on opponent's right back and double team's her with our attacking midfielder
  5. Rage midfielders and near side outside back step between their player and the opponent's player with the ball cutting off passing options
  6. Our center back and other side outside back step back to mitigate opponent's long ball pass
  7. Our double teaming forward and midfielder regain possession of the ball
  8. Right forward moves to create a scoring opportunity
  9. Our left forward or attacking midfielder pass to the right forward 
  10. Right forward scores
  11. Celebrate
  12. Repeat the hunt

Key Game Awareness

  • Trapping skills of the opponent's defenders
  • Passing skills of the opponent's defenders
  • Positioning of our attacking three
  • Positioning and awareness of our supporting midfielders and defenders

Key Game Understanding

  • Where and when will the opportunity to press and regain possession of the ball in the opponent's defending half arise?

Critical Skills

  • Forward: Game understanding to anticipate where and when a defender will have trouble controlling the ball
  • Forward: close on a player and turn them and the ball
  • Forward: Game understanding to anticipate an opportunity to steal the ball
  • Forward: tackle and gain possession of the ball
  • Forward: Dribble, pass, shoot
  • Midfielders and Defenders: Game awareness to know that the forwards are hunting
  • Midfielders and Defenders: Close off passing opportunities


The high press method of attack is a team task. It cannot be effectively accomplished by our forwards alone. One or two forwards pressing will not get the ball and waste their energy. This means that we as a team have to create a shared understanding through training and communication as to when we will high press. This awareness and communication has to take place in training and especially in the game. This requires deep game understanding and rapid reaction to the opportunity. It requires a mindset of patient aggressiveness seeking out the right opportunity.