Keep the ball!

This is a practice drill designed to improve your players’ ability to keep possession. It is suitable for players with good ball skills.

Warm up

Split your players into two groups wearing two different coloured bibs, e.g. red and blue. The players jog around in half a small soccer pitch, passing the ball from red to blue to red etc.


  • Add a second ball.
  • Introduce a defender who tries to block the passes.
  • Introduce a second defender and, if your players are still finding it easy to keep the ball from the defenders, add a third.
  • Place a goal at one end of the playing area. The team in possession can shoot once they have put five passes together.

Small-sided game 1

Play a small-sided game with the condition that players can only have three touches before they pass the ball. All restarts are by the goalkeeper who has to roll the ball out.

Progression: move to two touch.

Small-sided game 2

In this small-sided game, use uneven teams. For example, 5v2 or 6v3. The team with the most players has to complete five passes before they can score. The team with fewer players can shoot as soon as they get the ball.

Progression: increase the number of passes required and/or make the playing area smaller to increase the pressure.

Coaching points

  • Stress the need for constant movement – no standing still admiring your pass!
  • Encourage players to find good angles of support– get out of the defenders’ shadows.
  • Key messages: Keep the ball! Relax, get your head up and support your team mates.