Intelligent Pressing vs Running

Isolated Pressing

Next time you're playing a five aside or watching a five aside keep an eye out for the players pressing without the ball.  You'll see it on astro parks everywhere, players pressing for the sake of pressing, no care for surroundings, setting pressing traps or timing of the press.  The five aside game is smaller, but many principles of pressing from the 11 aside game still apply.  We all know that one player who sets off to press the opposition with no team mates nearby, the ball is easily passed beyond him and suddenly what was once a 4 vs 4 outfield now becomes a 3 vs 3 or maybe even an overload of 4 vs 3 in favour of the opposition, and all because one player decides to press without any intelligent awareness considered.  You'll see similar scenario's in the 11 aside game also.  

 Isolated Pressing

Isolated Pressing

Pressing Ques 

A player receiving with his back to your goal in a closed body shape is considered a pressing cue, as is a ball traveling distance in the air across field or distance infield, another example could be a poor first touch, basically anytime the ball/opponent cannot effect your team with a dangerous pass while your players can gain ground is a pressing cue.  Here is some examples below from the Rep of Ireland international team.  

Pressing Traps

A pressing trap is a deliberate tactical ploy designed to make the opposition play predictable. There is many ways to set up pressing traps.  Often these traps are set up to invite the opposition to wide areas where overloads are less likely.  Below you'll see a great example of Lionel Messi setting a pressing trap.  

Press High Against the Hoofers

Often a reason to press high is if you are facing a direct footballing side who have forwards very capable of bringing men into play.  By pressing high you can attempt to cut the source out and provide limited time on the ball to pick accurate long passes out.  Have a look at this analysis by Gary Neville.  

Limit Space Against Pace

Often a reason to sit deep and defend one half is to limit opportunity to be exploited with balls beyond defenders.  If the team you are playing are technically good then limiting space for them to pass into and getting bodies around tight spaces is also an option.  Sitting deep and pressing deep is also a good form of counter attack if you have players with pace that can expose the opposition in transition.  

Intelligent Pressing vs Running

So what is the point of this article.  When people speak about clever/intelligent footballers the references are often to players with the ball at their feet.  In a game that a player on average has three to four minutes worth of ball action, it is the eighty seven minutes without the ball that decides if he is truly an intelligent player or not, much of that time can of course be spent chasing possession.  Above are just some approaches to pressing that require thought.  Don't be the runner without thought spending needless energy,  'Press with the brain and you are way more likely to regain'