I've heard the term "press high" repeatedly while watching the World Cup. What does it mean? Do teams that press high generally enjoy more possession or less?

1 Answer 1


It means the team without the ball, moves higher up the pitch to put pressure on the team with the ball, with the idea of getting the ball back or forcing the other team to make a mistake.

Say, teamA has the ball near their own goal. Then teamB will start putting pressure on teamA, by moving higher in the direction of teamA's goal. Players of teamB will start attacking teamA players to get the ball back. But the key point here is, it will be done nearer to teamA's goal. That's why it's called pressing high.

As shown in the image below, blue team tries to pressure the red team, near the red team's goal.


Few benefits of pressing high are:

  • Defending from the front
  • Getting the ball back - After all; if you don’t have the ball, you can’t score.
  • Winning the ball back near to the other team's goal
  • Forcing mistakes by other team near their own goal
  • Physiological pressure

A disadvantage would be, you are more susceptible to quick counter attacks, and over the top balls.

  • You should mention that the downside to this strategy is that it is more risky. Teams that can counter attack quickly will be past your defence more easily if they can beat the initial pressure. Hence this world cup has seen a lot more scoring.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 10:44
  • @JamesRyan also one could add that high pressure is physically demanding on the players, so you are risking to be much more tired than your opponent towards the end of the game. That is especially the case if the opposing team is skilled in passing the ball around (see: Germany - Ghana match)
    – posdef
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 11:01
  • @posdef In that case, even the team passing the ball should be tired, coz keeping the ball requires continuous movement.
    – SahuKahn
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 11:04
  • @SahuKahn that's exactly what I said, the pressing team will be tired..
    – posdef
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 11:08
  • 1
    @SahuKahn good teams let the ball do the work when they are passing around so no, chasing the ball is far more tiring than keeping it
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 11:17

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