Possession Games can be used to break down the (11v11) game into smaller components in order to emphasize or develop certain aspects of your team playing style; maybe you need to work on buildup in certain areas, maybe you need to work on pressing in small groups, maybe you need to work on switching play – maybe you need to develop a basic understanding of keeping the ball when under pressure!! Being creative with possession games; adjusting the playing area, the number of players, the restrictions, and changing the rules can allow you to place your players in game-realistic situations in order to maximize learning.
The following are a selection of games utilizing various numbers – 5v5, 5v3, 6v6+1, 5v5 etc. Each activity has a different theme; Defending, Pressing, Buildup centrally, Counter-Pressing…
As a Coach you can develop your own activities based on the concept you want to coach and/or improve with your team.
Be creative, place players in game-realistic positions and under game-realistic pressure!!!
1. POSSESSION: DEFENSIVE PRESSURE
Three teams of 5 Players. One team designated as the ‘Defensive’ team to start the activity (Yellow in diagram). Playing area is 2 grids separated by a 4yd wide central zone (shaded).
When to ‘Press’, When to ‘Cover’?
Play starts with a pass from the Coach (C) to either group (Black or Red); immediately the Defensive team must send over minimum 4 players to win possession or force errors. The possession teams must look to maintain possession and play ‘forward’ quickly to the opposite grid.
On any loss of possession or error that TEAM becomes the Defensive group.
Constant transitions / changes from Defend-Possession and from Possession-Defend are dictated by the Coach and the supply of balls.
- DEFENSIVE TEAM:
- Press as a group! Press the ball while cutting off passing options
- 5th Defender must make the choice – (1) Enter grid to create more pressure = 5v5 or (2) Stay in central zone to block any existing pass channels
- POSSESSION TEAMS:
- Quick ball circulation + movement in very restricted spaces
- Look to play to the other grid quickly – ‘Play Forward!’
- Immediate ‘Think’ transition to defend on any error / loss of possession
2. POSSESSION: EMPHASIS ON QUICK INTER-PLAY
Three teams of 4 players + Goalkeepers in full-sized goals. Playing area approximately 40m x 25m (playing area can be adjusted according to player ability).
A 4v4 (+GKs) is organised inside the playing area; 4 support / wall players are positioned on the sidelines as shown. Support players are limited to 1-touch play (if possible). Quick ball circulation and movement is encouraged to create a ‘high tempo’ of play. Normal rules apply – teams attempt to score in their opponents goal.
Play is continuous; 1.5 – 2min games.
Change the Support players after each game.
- The support players create multiple opportunities for one-twos, give + goes etc.
3. POSSESSION – DEVELOPING THE BUILDUP
A 6v6 + 1 is organised as shown. Players are assigned to specific zones; the ‘floater’ (green) can move freely between zones.
Play starts each time with either (A) player positioned in the central end-zone. Teams must build / maintain possession through the central zones and pass to their teammates in the opposite end zones.
The Central zones consist of a 3v3 + 1 ‘Floater’ – teams must use this numerical advantage to maintain possession.
Play is continuous – teams can continue to score points by working the ball from end-to-end.
- Angles of support, Movement, Awareness, Body shape to receive, Looking over shoulder, Spatial awareness.
- Decision-making + Execution of passes
4. POSSESSION – EMPHASIS OF CHANGING POINT OF ATTACK
Playing area consists of 2 grids side-by-side; total area approximately 15×25. A 5v3 is organised – Players are organised in game-related positions. Two groups are organised to accommodate entire squad.
Play begins in either half of the playing area; possession team looks to maintain possession and look for opportunities to quickly change the point of attack to the opposite wing Target player. Points are awarded for each successful switch of play.
Defensive team attempts to lock their opponent in one half of the playing area – prevent change of play.
Play is continuous.
Total 25min with stoppages for Coaching Points / Player changes
- Quick ball circulation + movement
- Moment, Direction, Speed of passes
- Angles of support
- Look to play through central player (#10 in diagram)
- Constantly looking for opportunities to Change Point of Attack
5. POSSESSION vs. PRESSURE
A 5v5+2 is organised as shown; the 2 ‘Free’ players support the team in possession. 3m wide scoring zones at each end of the playing area.
Play begins with a pass from the Coach (C) to either team; the team in possession has a numerical advantage (7v5) – they must complete 10 consecutive passes before attempting to dribble / pass into the scoring zone. The Defending team must attempt to regain possession and immediately transition to attack – they can score without completing the 10 consecutive passes.
*Next ball starts from Coach each time
- Possession team: be patient in possession, use the numerical advantage to keep the ball
- Defensive team: work as a unit to attempt to quickly regain possession
- On winning possession look to score as quickly as possible
6. POSSESSION 4v4+4 – DEFENSIVE ORGANISATION
12 Players split into 3 groups of 4. One team designated as ‘Defending’ team for the designated time (Black in Diagram). Other players positioned on perimeter; 2 Players position centrally (Yellow).
Emphasis on Pressing / Counter-Pressing.
Yellow + Red teams must maintain possession through quick ball circulation – 10 passes = 1 goal / splitting the Defensive 4 with pass = 3 goals.
*Note: Players (A) + (B) cannot pass to each other – pass is blocked with cones – this is to encourage central passes.
Emphasis is on the DEFENSIVE team remaining compact to deny passes to central players, to deny splitting passes and also to press when appropriate to win possession.
*Gradually increase intensity each block
3x2min – ‘Prepare to Play’
3x2min – Increased rhythm + Intensity
*Rotate Defensive team each 2min block
- DEFENSIVE TEAM:
- Stay Compact centrally
- Deny passing lanes to central players. Communication is vital.
- POSSESSION TEAM(S):
- Quick ball circulation and movement.
- Perimeter players immediately Counter-Press on any loss of possession.
7. POSSESSION – EMPHASIS ON PLAYING ACROSS THE PITCH THROUGH CENTRAL MIDFIELD
13 Players organised in positions. A 6v6+1 is organised as shown – the ‘Free’ player is a #6 / C.Mid player. Playing area is divided into 3 vertical zones. Mini-goals are placed 2-3m behind the line on each wide zone.
Both teams compete for possession of the ball. Team score by passing into the mini-goals. Teams must make 5 consecutive passes minimum AND pass across all 3 zones before attempting to score.
Time 2x3min Rest 1min
- Quick ball circulation and movement
- Quick ball transition across the grids – 1 and 2-touch play
- Look to play through the ‘Free’ player.
8. EMPHASIS: PLAYING FORWARD CENTRALLY
10 Players split into two teams of 5 players + 2 Goalkeepers positioned as shown. 2 mini goals at each end placed as shown.
Play begins with a pass from either Goalkeeper (A or B); Goalkeeper (B) + Black team are working on building up centrally in the opponents half of the pitch / Goalkeeper (A) + Red team are working on building up centrally in their own half of the pitch.
Goalkeepers remain involved as a support player – this creates a 5v4 advantage for the team in possession. Teams are encouraged to make forward penetrating passes (avoid side-to-side possession) Team in possession can score in either of their opponents mini-goals. If a goal is scored possession remains with the same team with another pass from their Goalkeeper; on any missed attempt on goal, play starts with the opposite (A).
Play is continuous.
2-3 x 3-4min
- Playing area is long/narrow to encourage vertical forward passes
- Body position to receive and immediately look to play forward
- Various passing techniques to play forward; one-touch, receive half-turned and play forward, layoff short for next ball forward
- Speed, Direction and Timing of movements to receive passes
- *Regression: a ‘Free’ player may be added centrally to support the team in possession (creates 6v4)