Possession practices

This is a reactive pressure and possession game that coaches players in the basics of team mechanics – namely keeping the ball, exploiting opposition mistakes and looking for an end goal or product.

Although basic in its delivery, these principles are vital for every side, and this is the sort of practice you will see teams using at every level, either in warm-ups before matches or as longer training sessions in the days leading up to a game.

At Huddersfield Town this season, this practice has formed an excellent base for other sessions, and I’ve no doubt contributed to our excellent start to the campaign whereby we found ourselves clear at the top of the Sky Bet Championship table.



Up to 24×12 yards


Balls, cones, goals

Number of Players

8 plus 2 keepers (optional)

Session time


What do I get the players to do?

Reactive pressure (20mins)

We begin by setting up a tight 12×12-yard square, as shown (1a). We play one minute working then one minute resting, and every player is all-in.


1. Yellows start in possession of the ball and pass between team mates
2. Blue floaters play for the team in possession (yellows) and help retain the ball

The aim of the team in possession is to keep the ball with the help of two team mates, plus two floaters.

Upon loss of possession, the three players react with intensity to try to regain the ball.

What are the key things to look out for?

When in possession, players must stay calm and attempt to retain the ball using smart passing, angled play and good movement of team mates in order to create space to receive. We also want to ensure the pace of passing is quick and sharp.

When out of possession, reactions must be quick, and closing down of opponents needs to be positive and intense.

All players must communicate all of the time, as well as recognising the triggers when possession switches over.

How do I progress the practice?

To progress, when gaining possession, players are allowed to drive out of the box with the ball, as shown (1b). Once outside the box, that player must then find a pass back into the square, at which point the practice restarts from that position.


1. In the progression, a red player closes down intensely and wins possession
2. He runs outside the area, turns, then passes back inside
3. The practice now restarts

How do I put this into a game situation?

For a game set-up, we will increase the size of the area in creating a 24×12-yard practice with a goal at each end, as shown (2) – keepers are optional. The challenge here is to create an opening with the use of floaters. We will play this for 20mins.


• In the game situation it’s 4v4+2, with reds combining well with the floaters to set up a chance, which is expertly finished

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