Making the right choice


30x30 yards


Balls, cones, goals

No. of players


Session time

Passing 20mins, coned game 20mins, 8v8 game 20mins

This session is about players moving and reacting to different situations in tight spaces – by that, we mean making the right choice between keeping possession and trying to score a goal.

It’s important to practise this because as soon as players move into central positions in the attacking third, they should be aware that passing or shooting decisions need to be made.

Those decisions can differ depending on the opponents, the scoreline, or the time that remains on the clock, so rehearsing this versatility is really crucial to us.

What do I get the players to do?

We begin in a 30×30-yard area, positioning six players on cones. In this high tempo ball drill, players must receive, pass quickly with the inside of the foot, and follow. Some passes are made first time off the back foot, others – such as the ball to the man in the centre – require the player to turn and pass in two touches. The player receiving on the final cone dribbles the ball back to the start and rejoins.


• Players receive and pass around the coned course at high tempo. Players give-and-go, following their pass


• In pairs the players move around the cones. The first player (red) sprints to the cone, turns and receives a pass which he sets back.

We progress this by using a fast-paced two-man set-up around a similar course. One player must run ahead of the other, so that at each cone the ball is laid off to the supporting player then passed ahead along the next line.

In the next phase, we create five goals using cones, each one yard wide. The exercise is 8v8, players are all-in, and the object is to play the ball through the cones to a team mate. A point is awarded for each ‘goal’, and for 10 consecutive passes.


• In the 8v8, a scoring pass is made through the cone


• Players must move to find space, supporting to offer one-touch lay-offs

How do I progress the session?

Progressing to three-touch then two-touch ensures that everybody wants the ball, is moving and is involved. Moving forward, players can only score whilst keeping possession, then only when keeping the ball and passing it to a third man.

What are the key things to look for technically/tactically?

Players must make short passes, draw in the opposition by switching play and use the whole area. This requires a good first touch, excellent movement, and vision. Players should be thinking what they’re going to do before they receive the ball.

How do I put this into a game situation?

We play 8v8 in a 60×40-yard area with a goal at each end. The white team’s aim is to keep possession (two-touch) while reds must score as many goals as they can (unlimited touches).

With just two scoring targets, attackers must now hold the ball longer before fashioning chances. If a goal is scored, the attack is directed at the other goal. The team that keeps possession has to make the pitch as big as possible, while the scoring team must press when out of possession. Switch team roles every five minutes.


• In the game, reds draw whites towards one goal before switching long to attack the other end


• Playing the possession game, whites spread the playing area with plentiful off-the-ball movement