Team possession and movement

This session is all about possession and movement from a team, or to be more specific, it’s about moving the ball from back to front with purpose and controlled possession.

Teams that win championships always seem to be in control of the game and keep possession of the ball for at least 60 per cent of each match. I find you can win more games if you can keep hold of the ball. However, as this session will teach your players, it’s not just a matter of keeping hold of the ball but using it right when you have it, with thoughtful movement and effective penetration from the team.

No matter what systems are played you can work with your players to develop them into a passing team. Always remember, good teams control the ball while poor teams are controlled by the ball.

I would run this session every week, possibly twice a week. It will really enhance the way the team plays.


Up to full pitch
Balls, bibs, cones, 1 full size goal, 2 small goals, 4 mini goals
Number of Players
Up to 15 players + 1 goalkeeper
Session time
Total: 80mins
Warm up: 15mins
6v6 possession: 15 minutes
7v7 possession: 20 minutes
Phase play game: 30 minutes

What do I get the players to do?


Set up an area of 25×25 yards with 8-yard gates marked out with cones on each of the four sides, as shown [1]. Divide your players into three teams of four, starting with a 4v4 played in the central area. The third team play as floaters and are positioned with one player in each of the four gates outside the area.


1. There are three teams of four players, with one team positioned on the outside between the gates
2. Playing 4v4 in the area, the aim is to keep possession using the support of the outside player
3. Here the reds press. If they gain possession they must try to keep the ball in the same manner
4. Off the ball movement is key to creating space for a team mate to pass into

The objective of the warm-up is for teams to keep hold of the ball by passing it between themselves and also using the support of the four outer players. If the pressing team manages to gain possession, they must continue to keep hold of the ball in exactly the same manner.

While teams aim to keep possession of the ball, you should look for players to be moving off the ball to create space for team mates. By using this warm-up we can then see the difference in mental ability and tell which players understand how important it is to keep possession.

Play each game for 90 seconds with one minute of recovery, rotating the teams for each game.

6v6 possession

This is a game of short and long passes in order to control possession and movement. Set up an area of 40×40 yards with a target goal in each corner and play 6v6 in the centre, as shown [2]. To score, the team in possession has to run the ball under control into any of the corner goals. The team starting with the ball is able to attack any corner initially, but you can progress the session so that after scoring in a corner that team can next only attack the remaining corners. Play each game for five minutes with two minutes of recovery.


1. The idea is to keep possession. Here the blues have the ball while the reds press
2. To score, a player has to run or play the ball under control into any corner goal. To progress, you can instruct teams that they cannot score in the same corner twice

How do I progress the session?

7v7 possession

Set up an area of 50×40 yards with a 3-yard zone at either end and with balls lined up around the outside of he area, as shown [3].


1. Play starts with one team getting a ball from behind the end zone that they are defending
2. Teams must use fast attacking play to get the ball from their end zone into the opposite end zone to score

Play a 7v7 game in the centre, starting with a player from one team (here, the reds) fetching a ball from behind the end zone. The aim for that team is to attack the other end and run the ball under control into the end zone to score, while their opponents have to prevent them doing so by defending that end. Effective forward play by the attacking team is vital. If the blue defenders win possession then they must quickly attack the end zone that the red team are defending.

To progress this game, you may add a floater to play for the team in possession, or even create an overload at the start by giving one team a numerical advantage by playing 8v7. Play five-minute games with two minutes for recovery.

How would you put this into a game situation?

Phase play game

Play this 8v7 game on three-quarters of the length of a normal pitch, with a full size goal and a keeper at one end and two small goals placed at angles at the other end, as shown [4]. The team of eight (the reds) are attacking the full size goal and the team of seven (the blues) are defending it with the aid of the keeper.


1. The game starts with the server passing to either of the two reds at the back
2. As soon as one of the red players has touched the ball, the blue forward and his team mates can start to press
3. The red attacking team must build up play through the thirds of the pitch with two-touch passing
4. The red attackers should try to score in the full size goal. If they lose possession, the blue defending team should counter-attack either of the small goals at the other end

Position a server between the two angled goals and he starts play by passing to one of the red team’s defenders. The reds play two-touch and must build up play through the phases of the pitch with good passing and by keeping possession. Their opponents have unlimited touches and must press to overturn possession. If they do, they should try to score in one of the small angled goals.

What are the key things to look out for?

Make sure your players understand their own responsibilities as individuals and their responsibilities to the team as a back four unit, a midfield unit or as strikers. It’s much easier to keep possession of the ball if players understand they should move as a team and realise the importance of keeping the ball.

Emphasise the need for a good first touch under pressure, an understanding of support play and movement, the ability to play quickly in tight areas, and that players should be aware of what is around them.

What are the typical mistakes that players might make?

Overconfidence is a typical mistake, with individual players trying to take an extra touch or deciding to do their own thing at the expense of team possession. It’s also common to see players lose possession with sloppy control in tight areas.

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