Editor: Institute of Youth soccer, Essen - Germany
what have all successful teams of the last years as Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona or Borussia Dortmund in common? They all have one functioning mechanism after
they lose the ball, to regain possession as quickly as possible - the Counterpressing!
The term Counterpressing established over the last few years and is an indicator of a modern and especially complete philosophy. Many years, the tactical
training dealt with the question how to attack in possession and how to defend against the ball. The way of thinking shifted over the last years increasingly into the field of the transition from
own ball possession to opponent ball possession and the other way around.
In this book, I will combine strategies for a possession-game with strategies for a transition-game. For the simple reason that the foundation of a
successful counterpressing needs to be already established in possession. Further will be described, which options arise after a successful counterpressing and what the backup
plan is, if counterpressing fails.
In the practical part, I present 25 drills and go into specifics of a training emphasizing on counterpressing. I hope to give you some useful suggestions for
your training routine.
Please enjoy reading this book,
How can counterpressing EFFECTIVELY be trained?
Whoever Wants to Train Counterpressing Needs to do This in Competitive-Like Exercises!
If the build-up shall be trained, different exercises with and without opponent can be found. However, if counterpressing shall be trained, solely exercises
with opponents can be used. Since it relates to a competitive-like situation (namely a lost ball), it is difficult to find an appropriate exercise without any opponent. In order to still simplify
or complicate counterpressing, it requires a creative coach who shapes and trains these exercises. In the following paragraphs, different suggestions are illustrated in order to train
Head for a Lost Ball!
Since the explicit situation of a turnover shall be trained, all exercises need to provoke the moment of a lost ball. In order to create this situation as a
coach, it requires certain elements of control.
Time Limitation for Attacks/Ball Possession!
Has a team only a certain limit of time to attack (or possess the ball), it more frequently comes to hectic or overhasty actions so
that a loss of the ball is more likely to happen.
Preset Touches of the Ball!
Are the players given only a certain number of touches, it also could lead more frequently to lost balls. A greatly limited number of touches (direct play or
two touches) leads, especially under increased pressure of space, to misdirected passes. This bad pass is the trigger of counterpressing.
Even an increased number of touches (for example the precept to dribble or to go into an 1 v 1) could lead to turnovers. These lost balls are created due to a
lost duel and train counterpressing - for example at the wing after a failed dribbling. In this organization, already one player (namely the one who lost the ball) is situated close to the site
of the turnover (difference to a misdirected pass).
Constrict the Space!
If players are situated under an increased pressure of space (for example in a situation at the wing or an artificially constricted space), it could also lead to
Counterpressing PRACTICE #01 - 3 - color - game
Organization: 3 teams (different colors) of each 4
players. There are two goals in each colors – one passing goal at a corner or side and one build with cones in the field. The practice starts with the three teams each have one ball. They pass
the ball to each other freely. By the time the coach calls out one color, that teams tries to score on their colored goals, while the other two teams try to prevent them from scoring.
Coaching Points: While in possession of the ball,
every player has to orientate himself to perfectly react to the next situation. Demand a constant view over the shoulder from every player to perfectly know one’s own surroundings.
Variation: The team that is called out tries to score on the opposing goals (4 goals) – This way, Counterpressing is arranged much more difficult.
Counterpressing exercise #02 - 6 v 6 plus 2
Organization: In a field (40x40m) is being played 6 v 6 plus 2 neutral players. If a
turnover occurs, both neutral players will for five seconds be in the defensive team. If the ball possessing team withstands these five seconds, it plays in numerical advantage with the neutral
Coaching Points: After a lost ball, the team is supposed to directly pressure on the
ball and regain possession. The numerical advantage of five seconds will support this aim.
Variation: The regaining team must not withstand five seconds of numerical disadvantage, but play 3 successive passes to transition to a numerical advantage.
Counterpressing exercise #03 - 5 plus 1 vs 3
Organization: The red team combines from the outsides of the field with each other with the aim to target pass the central player. Blue defends the in-between space and is allowed to interfere
all passes or pressure on the red central player after a successful pass. If Blue gains possession, they counter on four mini-goals. Red is allowed to use a maximum of five passes before passing
to the central player.
Coaching Points: If Red loses the ball, ball-distant positions need to cover the mini-goals. Ball-near players, especially the central player, apply direct pressure on the ball carrier.
Variation: In order to provoke and intensify ball losses, an additional time-rule can be introduced. “Red only has eight seconds to target pass the central player!”. Minimize the central