Possession and finishing


Up to a full pitch


Balls, cones, goals, poles

No. of players


Session time

Three-team possession 30mins, Possession with a finish 30mins

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.

What do I get the players to do?

Three-team possession

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.