This section offers a list
of soccer coaching exercises that will help develop your players' ability
to maintain possession of the ball. By combining one or more of the
exercises with an appropriate warm up, a suitable practice plan can be
In any of the
exercises, you will find that it will be more effective to have the
opponents work to win possession of the ball, not just to kick it away.
Make the rules such that this is required. Otherwise, you will be chasing
cleared balls and players will be standing around.
- Pass and Chase - Groups of 6 in
circles, each circle with one ball. Player with ball passes the circle
to another player, chases pass to pressure passer into one or two touch
pass. Play continuously.
- Two Balls - Two teams in medium size
space (like 30 x 40 yards for U14 boys playing teams of 6) each start
with a ball. Each team works to maintain possession of one ball, win
possession of other team's ball. Point for every success, play to 3 or 4
points, move on. For 18 players, use up to 4 balls. Encourages small
group play, decision making in support of possession.
- Keep Away - Groups of 4, playing 3 v 1
possession with 1 ball in 10 yard grid.
- 5 v 1 - Play possession, 5 v 1 in free
space. Move to 10 yard grid. With 12 players, run two groups at once.
- 4 + 1 v 1 - Play possession in 10 yard
grid. Four passers on outside, one supporting player in grid, one
opponent in grid. Player who loses ball takes opponents place. Try for
20 passes without losing possession. With 12 players, run two groups at
once. Encourage the passers to work to split the defenders.
- 7 + 2 v 3 - Play possession in 20 x 10
yard grid. Three opponents and 2 possession players in middle of grid
with seven possession players around grid edges. Possession team tries
to keep ball in grid and to complete 20 passes without losing
possession. Rotate players every few minutes.
- Splitting Defenders - Play 8 v 4 in a
large space, 30 x 40 yards. Work to keep possession and to complete
several short passes in order to draw defenders in, then split defenders
or make lofted pass to space away from pressure. Push the pace so it
happens quickly. Adjust the numbers to get some success and some
- Two Zones - Play 4 v 2 for team with
ball in each of two zones, like 30 x 40 yard space. Players have to stay
in their own zones, can pass with team mates in other zone. Team with
ball tries for continuous possession. Add restriction, team must make 5
passes in one half before passing to other half to get point. Defenders
get point for every ball one. Change defenders. If it's too easy for
possession team, reduce the space.
- Three Zones - Play 4 v 2 for team with
ball in their defending half, 2 v 4 against team with ball in their
final (attacking) third. Leave a 5 yard empty zone between the two
halves. Play to goals without goalies. Two opponents in first zone try
to pressure possession team into mistake. Possession team tries to hold
ball until its "strikers" in the final third can get away from their
Game - Play 6
v 6 to goals. Coach players to keep possession and to switch the point
of attack quickly to create a good isolation situation (1v1) to create a
shooting opportunity. Can add restriction, like 6 passes before any
shot, to encourage possession.
When teaching possession, it is very easy
to control the technical and tactical difficulty level of the exercise.
These can be selected and used in different combinations to add interest
and variety to the practice. At the extreme level, where many of these
factors are in place, the purpose of the practice moves away from
"Possession" and towards "Speed of Play", a closely related topic, in much
the way that "motor racing" is related to "driving". Same setup, just
To increase the difficulty of a
Possession progression -
- make the space more soccer - shaped,
not open, not square
- add players without increasing the
- level the sides to make it more even
- eliminate restrictions on
opponents...for example with passers outside a grid and defenders inside
trying to win the ball, allow the defenders to go outside the grid
- increase the number of teams in the
exercise - like 3 instead of 2
- add psychological pressure by adding a
goal - like 10 passes to win
- add psychological pressure by adding a
penalty for the losers
- challenge the team with the ball to
keep it against pressure for a set period of time - count down out loud
as the time nears
- add restrictions - for example - if
one player uses two touches, the next may only use one touch
- give direction to the exercise - play
to goal lines or goals
- add goals and shooting - require
possession before shooting
- increase the number of balls in play
to force thinking and vision
Possession warm ups
You can start your session with
any of the footy4kids warm ups.
These warm ups, however, are recommended for this type of session.
- Wall Passing - Partners with ball
executing wall pass in space.
- Wall Passing in Grid - Put the whole
team into a 20 yard square, let partners with a ball do wall passes
around other pairs.
- Takeovers - Partners with ball
executing takeovers with overlap and pass.
- 1-2-3 Touch (from Kerry Miller,
Women's Coach, Charleston Southern in 1993). Partners at 5 yards with
ball, one touch passing as hard as possible. Change to two touch
passing. Push the pace. Finally, change to three touch passing. First
touch to stop ball, second touch push ball forward a couple of steps to
attack, third touch pass. Passer must retreat several steps immediately
after passing. Partners move up and back together very quickly, very
demanding physically on the quads.