Swarm The Ball Carrier

In the modern game, pressing has become a common defensive tactic in which teams apply immediate pressure on the ball the moment that it is lost. In theory, this is the when the team in possession is most vulnerable to turn the ball over again. Swarm the ball carrier is an excellent drill for players to work on aggressively pressing the opposition in numbers and trying to win the ball back quickly.

Set Up

To prepare this exercise, build a square or rectangular grid with each side between 10-15 meters wide. One attacking player starts in the middle of the grid with two teammates on either touchline. In addition, four defensive players start in each of the corners of the grid.

How It Works

The exercise starts by the coach playing a ball into the offensive player in the middle. As soon as the pass is made, the four defensive players on the outside run towards the attacker and try to win possession of the ball. If the defenders are able to win the ball or force it out of play, then they earn a point.

The offensive player can earn a point by successfully playing a pass to one of his teammates on the outside.

Coaching Points

This exercise teaches defensive players to agressively pursue the ball while at the same time closing off passing lanes to isolate the attacker. Speed, teamwork, and communication are important for the defending team to take away the ball carrier’s options and try to win the ball back.

The difficulty of this drill can be modified for the defending team by having different numbers of offensive players around the outside. For example, having only one passing option makes it easier for the defenders while having four offensive players on the outside makes it more difficult to stop.

Another variation of this game can be played by awarding the offensive player a point if they can retain possession of the ball for certain amount of time rather than trying to play a pass to the outside. This variation emphasizes the speed of the press rather than closing off passing lanes.

Related drills


Spaced Out Rondo

Spaced out rondo is a keep away variation to help players work on staying spread out, offensive shape, and finding good passing angles. Set Up Create a grid divided into six zones as pictured in the diagram. This drill is played as a 6v3 rondo 'keep away' exercise...

Find The Killer Pass

Find the killer pass is an excellent drill to teach players to move the ball as a team and execute penetrating passes into dangerous areas.

Pressing 1v1

The Pressing 1v1 drill is a simple one versus one drill that keeps players on their toes and places an emphasis on the defensive player to close down the attacker’s space as quickly as possible.

Swarm The Ball Carrier

Swarm the ball carrier is an excellent drill for players to work on aggressively pressing the opposition in numbers and trying to win the ball back quickly.

Rondo Pressure Drill

The rondo pressure drill is a fun keep away variation with two teams competing against each other.

Keep Away To Wide Players

Keep away to wide players is a fun keep away style game where once a team completes a given number of passes they can play it out wide and attack.

4v2 Rondo With Dribble Retake

This simple drill helps you teach your players how to take up positions to maintain possession and to react and transition fast to dribble forward when winning the ball.

Numbered Passing

The numbered passing drill is a simple passing exercise that can be used as a warm-up or to help players work on passing and moving.

1v1 Defender Trailing

1v1 defender trailing is a 1v1 variation that encourages offensive players to attack quickly and stay calm under pressure while being chased by a defender.

1v1 Back To Goal Race

1v1 back to goal race is as fun 1v1 exercise where the first player to run around the cone in front of them gets the ball to attack on goal.

Sign up to get the latest exercises and coaching content!

Don't miss out on professional quality drills and analysis delivered straight to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!