High-intensity pressing drill – Defending when outnumbered

High-intensity pressing drill – Defending when outnumbered
Tactics Manager

The traditional rondo is a useful exercise for warming up and training possession and recovery of the ball. Unfortunately, they can become boring and repetitive after a while. This post introduces a fun variation, a high-intensity pressing drill to encourage a quick recovery of the ball. 


As shown in the animation, you will need ballsbibs and cones to mark the pitch. You don’t need a football pitch, but enough space to have two rondos running in parallel.  

This drill is designed for 10 players, 5 players per team. You could practice a variation with 8 players, but fewer than 8 won’t work as you need at least 4 players in each rondo. On the other hand, if you organise this drill with more than 10 players, the exercise loses its intensity. Players will be idle, waiting in queue for their turn to run into a rondo, or each rondo will have too many players passing the ball.  


This game is like running two small rondos in parallel with a few twists to make it competitive. The additional instructions are:

  • Mark the field as shown in the animation: 2 slalom lanes and 2 rondos.
  • Divide the players into two teams of 5 players each.
  • 3 players per team wait in a rondo formation to keep the ball.
  • 2 players per team wait in a queue to run into a rondo to recover the ball.
  • The first player in the queue starts the drill by weaving between the cones with the ball, at speed and towards the rondo on their side.
  • At the end of the slalom, the player passes the ball to one of the players waiting in the rondo and runs into it to try to recover the ball.
  • A rondo starts with the usual rules: players in possession of the ball can only use 2 touches maximum; if the defending player touches the ball, the rondo stops.
  • Once the rondo stops, the player that recovered the ball runs with the ball to the opposite rondo and passes the ball to a teammate to swap roles (while the other rondo is still running).
  • The player will now be part of the team playing keep, while his teammate will run with the ball back to the queue his teammate came from and pass it to the player waiting to start the circuit.
  • The last actions require coordination of all players in a team. The players swapping roles must not be involved in the active rondo, or the team playing keep may lose the ball. So, everyone needs to be aware of each other moves.
  • The progression continues until all players per team have run through the slalom area and recovered the ball. Again, this requires coordination of all players in a team.

You can add your variations to this exercise. But, whatever you do, try to keep the drill physically demanding.  


This high intensity pressing drill focuses on improving the recovery of the ball when outnumbered. Additionally, your team will improve:

  • Fitness. This game is physically demanding. Players must execute this drill fast and continuously to beat the opposition team. In particular, this exercise requires a lot of energy from the player attempting to recover the ball.
  • Ball control at speed. The slalom area of the circuit requires good ball control, or the player running through it will waste time.
  • Defending when outnumbered. Players recovering the ball must press with maximum efficacy, closing down passing lanes and reading the opposition players’ intentions on the ball.
  • Passing. Players must improve their passing technique to ensure their team retains possession as long as possible.
  • First touch. Because the number of allowed touches is restricted, players must improve their first touch to control and pass the ball.
  • Teamwork. This drill requires a lot of coordination. Players must coordinate their movements to keep the ball and not create chaos when swapping players out of their rondo.

I hope you find this drill helpful. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. Also, if you know about other exercises or have questions, comment on our Facebook page.

Pablo Matamoros

I am a software engineer with 25+ years of experience across diverse industries. I've climbed the corporate leader over the years, which has some benefits but means I moved away from my love for tinkering with technology. So, I build the odd website or application to keep learning and stay in touch with technology. FootballTechniques allows me to combine my programming knowledge with my passion for football.

To find out more about my professional experience, visit PabloMatamoros.com