Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Keep the ball under pressure

By David Clarke

David ClarkeEncouraging your players to keep the ball for your team is a vital part of your training sessions. Different age groups need different levels to practice at – and I know some of you will have teams that are more advanced than others, so here are three different levels of exercise to practice possession soccer.

Make use of a simple 2v1 game

In diagram 1 the two white players pass and move around the square while the grey player has to try and win the ball. If he wins the ball he replaces one of the white players and the game goes on. To advance this game tell the white players they can only have 2 touches on the ball before they must pass. Once they have got the basics of the game add more players to make it a 3 v 2 or a 4 v 2.

Expand the play so you are using 10 players

Moving to more advanced exercises you can expand the play further like diagram 2. For this one use 10 players and an area 30 yards x 20 yards. Set it up so you have five attackers inside the area. Two more attackers – one on each of the longest sides of the area – can move up and down to support the play. Three defenders inside the area try to win the ball back.

They must win it back twice, then one of the three swaps places with an attacker – and the play continues.

Move it to a 6v6 game

You can then take it a stage further like diagram 3 where we have a 6v6. Go back to a square pitch either 30 yards x 30 yards or 20 yards x 20 yards depending on the age and ability of your players. You need to have a player from each team on each side of the square, with 2 from each side inside the square. The team that starts with the ball must keep it for as long as possible using team mates on the edge of the square.

The player who receives the ball on the edge of the square can either pass or run into the square with the ball and the player who passed the ball out has to take his place on the side of the square.

The team trying to win the ball can only use the two players in the centre until they win it – players on the edge of the square cannot tackle.
Key coaching points

  • A good first touch on the ball when receiving.
  • Play the ball first time whenever possible.
  • Count the number of passes to make it competitive.
  • Players should use the inside and outside of each foot.

Keeping possession needs a variety of passes

DavidClarkeWhen you are coaching possession games what your players should be doing is using a variety of passes to keep the opposition team guessing about where the ball will be going next.

Passing into to space means the ball can go forwards or backwards, wherever there is less danger of losing the ball – it doesn’t always need to go forwards when you’re keeping possession.

Long passes are also a good thing for a player to be able to do, which can relieve the pressure on a team by switching play to a player on the other side of the pitch who is in space.

And the short pass, quick one, twos. Variety is the key to good possession and to stop your passes being read by the opposition. Watch this a video of a 19-pass sequence by St Mary’s Sweepers soccer team.

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