This is a possession session that develops into a finishing challenge. It requires high tempo throughout and lots of legwork from players.
At every club I’ve worked at there has always been real attention paid to the core principles of possession and work rate. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the principles learned from this type of session – with players retaining the ball, feeding it wide and crossing for a finish into the net – coming off in a match.
Up to a full pitch
Balls, cones, goals, poles
Number of Players
Three-team possession 30mins, Possession with a finish 30mins
What do I get the players to do?
For a playing area, we use the middle section of a full pitch – the full width and 10 yards in from each penalty area, although can alternatively set up a 70×50-yard space. As shown (1a), we use 18 players split as three teams, although can introduce extra players in the middle as floaters, who operate with the team in or out of possession.
• In Three-team possession, reds combine and a pass is played into the feet of the yellow outer player, who returns the pass
Players in possession (in the example, it’s either reds or blues) must pass to team mates, then try to get the ball to any outer yellow player. Once a successful pass is made into a yellow, the ball is returned immediately. The team must then turn and attack the opposite line of yellows (1b).
• Red now turns and, despite being closed down by opposition blues, manages to thread a pass left. The ball makes its way to a yellow on the bottom line
We play for five minutes then rotate teams – each must play as the outer side twice.
Possession and a finish
We now extend the playing area into a full pitch, creating gates as shown, and with defenders and a keeper waiting in each penalty area. Players in the central area keep possession as they did in the first practice, but now have one designated end to attack. When attacking, they have to
pass the ball through the left or right gate to a centre-forward. This receiving player moves towards the penalty box, supported by the centre-forward on the opposite side, and a midfield runner. This creates a 3v2 attack – we’re looking for attackers to combine and score in the goal.
We can progress the game by allowing the player in the central area to run straight into the end zone without having to pass through the poles. This gives the centre-forward more space to finish.
• In Possession with a finish, yellows successfully retain possession then make a pass through one of their two gates where a centre-forward receives
• The two centre-forwards are joined with an inrushing midfielder for a 3v2, which ends with a ball across the box, and a goal
What are the key things to look out for?
In Three-team possession, we want to see comfortable possession, movement and running, with players aware of the positions of both team mates and opponents.
In Possession and a finish, we’re additionally looking for attacking intent, finishing skills and a willingness to take up key positions in the box.
It’s an engaging session for the players because it’s about creating and scoring goals and that’s what players love to do. It’s an attacking theme, based on expression and creativity with combination play, so players really enjoy it. MORE
This session focuses on the techniques of attacking and defending in and around the penalty area, giving players the opportunity to rehearse not only counter-attacking situations, but to attack and defend crosses from deep and from the by-line. It is a high intensity session that involves plenty of running and lots of accelerations and decelerations. MORE
“…fantastic… I encourage all my coaches to read it,”