With the compactness of the modern game, getting your team to exploit space when it’s presented is an essential ingredient for success. This practice develops understanding, cooperation and communication between players so that, wherever possible, they take advantage of the space in front of them. MORE
This is a simple possession game that can accommodate varied training numbers and focuses on many of the key skills required to be successful on match day. It is an intense and competitive practice that encompasses both offensive and defensive elements of the game.
Players must work hard to keep possession of the ball through player rotation and making forward runs at pace. Conversely, the opposing team needs to press the ball with intensity and stay with runners to prevent goal scoring opportunities.
If players can’t keep possession, do not provide angles to receive the ball, or fail to contribute positively to their team defensively, then this will be clearly highlighted by the session.
|Balls, bibs, cones|
|Number of Players|
|Each game: 4mins|
What do I get the players to do?
We set up an area of 44×25 yards including two-yard end zones at each end. We’re using 12 players split into two teams of six. If possible we try to balance the teams so each is made up of two defenders, three midfielders and a striker. Teams start in the central area and should set up in a rough positional formation anywhere on the pitch. To begin with, there is no restriction on the number of touches.
The game always begins with a ball from the coach, who is positioned to the side of the playing area. On receiving the starting pass from the coach, the team in possession should combine to create a scoring opportunity – to score, players place a foot on the ball in the end zone, as shown .
The scoring team retains possession and then must try to score in the opposite end zone.
If the ball goes out of play, the coach restarts the game with a pass to the team that was out of possession.
Play one game of four minutes.
The first game is aimed at acclimatising players to the basic session set-up. Now we run three more variations of the same game, adapting the rules each time. For Game 2, change the rules so players are restricted to three touches. In this game, players must also make a forward run after they have passed the ball, as shown . If they do not make a forward run, then the opposing team is awarded a free kick. Play one game of four minutes.
This time adapt the rules so players are now restricted to two touches. They must still make a forward run after they have passed the ball and are penalised if they don’t. Play one game of four minutes.
For this game, we use the same set-up but this time play is directional, meaning that teams now only attack one end. After a team has scored by stopping the ball in the end zone, the ball is left – the opposition team regains possession and the practice starts again from there. Play one game of four minutes.
What are the key things to look out for?
The coach must highlight the importance of making a forward run at pace after passing the ball. This creates space for a team mate to utilise by dragging a defensive player out of position. Players should naturally begin to rotate around each other to find space to help retain possession and make progress towards the scoring zone.
The forward run rule also ensures that all players, regardless of their natural playing position, must develop an attacking and defensive understanding – either by identifying space to receive a pass in order to keep possession, or by being aware of a forward run to stop a goal-scoring opportunity.
To aid the session, the coach must reinforce the need for a high intensity defensive press. Putting the attacking team under this kind of pressure helps to speed up the decision-making process, meaning the attackers work harder to keep possession through accurate passing and movement at pace.
What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?
Players often forget to make a forward run after passing but penalising them by awarding a free kick to the opposing team should help to reinforce the message.
When out of possession, players also fail to stay with a forward run. Number the players on each team from one to six and put a physical forfeit on each player if their opposing number scores a goal.