Press/Trap Zones

The starting point for team defence is knowing where you want to direct the ball. This depends on many variables (both teams’ systems, personnel strengths/weaknesses, coaching philosophy).

It is important, however, to determine where you want the ball to go, and where you do not want the ball to go. This will determine how your players position themselves and how they pressure the ball carrier.

Pressing can be used as a general to describe how a team defends when an opponent is bringing the ball out of the backfield (Outletting). At the advanced level, very specific presses are developed, which can isolate a player or specific space on the field. Trap Zones are created as a space where the defending team is aiming to direct the play and create a turnover.

Example of Trap Zones

At the lower levels, Pressing concepts should be less specific, but introduce players to general concepts of dangerous space and directing the play.

Some key basic ideas that can help as visual guides to introduce to young players are:

-Dangerous Space

-the Center Line

-the Line of the Ball

All of these concepts are subject to interpretation from each coach. For example, different teams may identify “Dangerous Space” differently. There are also different approaches to defending on the Left Hand side of the field. The following examples are examples or guides

Dangerous Space

The shaded area in the center of the 23m area is identified here as Dangerous Space. This is an area we want to protect defensively. Initial defensive positioning, position of the cover player, angle of approach to the ball carrier and tackling choices should all be consistent with protecting this space.

Center Line

The “Center Line” is simply a line from goal to goal down the middle of the field. It can be used as a reference point that a defending team should be aware to force the ball away from. As a very general concept, once you have the ball forced to one side of the center line, it is good practice to keep it on that side of the field.

Line of Ball

The “Line of the Ball” is an imaginary line extending from the defensive goal to the ball. This is also an effective visual guide-line for players when channeling the play defensively (or directing/forcing the play away from a specific area). Typically, a defender should angle the approach and position themselves between the ball and the Dangerous Space. Once in good defensive position, a defender should try to avoid crossing the “Line of the Ball”. This will avoid other defenders behind also being “turned”.

Pressing/Trap Zone Skills for LTHD Stages of Development:


Skills: Dangerous Space, Center Line


Skills: Basic Pressing Strategy, Sideline Trap Zones


Skills: Intermediate Pressing Strategy, Trap Zones (can be on inside of field, varying levels)


Skills: Advanced Pressing, Directing, Trap Zones