10 soccer possession drills to make keeping the ball look easy

Coaching your team to keep possession of the ball is vital if your soccer team wishes to be successful, keeping possession of the ball will allow your team to create more chances, wear the opponents down and greatly reduce the number of opportunities the other team has to create goal-scoring opportunities. Use these soccer drills for possession that will help your team.

However, it can be really easy to fall into the trap of keeping possession of the ball for the sake of keeping possession of the ball.

When you are coaching your players on how to keep possession ensure that you are coaching the reasons as to why they are doing so and how it can create opportunities to score goals.

Possess with a purpose!

With that being said maintaining possession of the ball is a lot easier said than done, these 10 soccer drills for possession will help ensure that your opponents are chasing shadows for 90 minutes!

Get these soccer possession drills as a free PDF at the bottom of the page.

How do you keep possession?

Keeping possession of the ball requires 6 main focuses:

  • Organization

Your team must be organized, players must know their positions and where they can move to help support players on the ball.

  • Body position

Players want to be receiving the ball in a side-on-body position as often as they can and receiving the ball on the back foot. This will ensure that players will in an open body position so they can see everything in front of them

  • Scanning the area

By scanning the area players are aware of their teammates, their opponents, and where the space is so they are able to paint a picture of what they want to do with the ball as soon as they receive it.

Players’ movement off the ball will dictate what the player on the ball does, by moving off the ball the player can create options for the player on the ball.

  • Composure

Composure is key to retaining possession of the soccer ball, players must feel comfortable under pressure when passing and receiving the ball.

The team must always be communicating with either other, feeding information to the player on the ball and making them aware of the best options to take.

10 Soccer drills for Possession

3 team vs 1 team possession soccer drill

(Yellow team are the defenders)

Purpose:

The purpose of this possession soccer drill is to encourage players to constantly play with their heads up and assess what is going on around them. Not only do the teams have to be aware of the defending team but also where the other possession teams are as well.

Set up:

  • 25x40 yard area
  • 3 soccer balls
  • 4 teams of 3
  • 2 goals

Instructions:

Set up your area and goals, with the goals in the middle of the 25-yard line opposite each other.

Before starting the activity select one team to become the defending team, the other 3 teams will all have a soccer ball each.

The teams possessing the ball must keep the soccer ball in their team away from the defenders, if the defenders are able to steal the ball they can score in either of the goals and they will get a point.

The winner will be the defending team that is able to get the most points out of the 4 teams.

For each team to get a chance to defend there need to be 4 rounds.

Coaching points:

  • Keep your head up and scan the area
  • If you do not have the ball find a space where you can support the player on the ball
  • Receive the ball in an open body position

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • Why do you need to constantly scan the area?
  • What should you be trying to find if you do not have the ball on the possessing team?
  • How should you receive the ball so you have as many options as possible?

3 team vs 1 team possession soccer drill variation

Purpose:

The purpose of this possession soccer drill is to make sure they are aware of what’s going on around them as well as being able to effectively communicate with their teammates which can help them retain possession of the soccer ball.

Set up:

  • 25x40 yard area
  • 3 soccer balls
  • 4 teams of 3

(Yellow team starts as the defenders but steal the ball off the green team)

Instructions:

Set up your area and divide your players into 4 equal teams of 3.

3 teams will start with a soccer ball and 1 team will not.

The team without the soccer ball will be the defending team, however, if they are able to steal the ball and retain possession of it then the team that they stole the ball off will become the defending team.

The aim of this possession soccer drill is to make sure your team has a soccer ball at the end of the round, with rounds lasting about 4 minutes.

The teams that have a soccer ball at the end of the round will get 1 point.

The first team to get to 5 points is the winner.

Coaching points:

  • Scan the area around yourself so you are able to make the best decisions on/off the ball
  • Communicate with teammates, and give them information when they are on and receiving the ball.
  • Receive the ball in an open body position

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What can you do that can help you make better decisions on/ off the ball?
  • How can you help your teammates on the ball make better and quicker decisions?
  • What is the best way to receive the ball so you have more options available to you?

4v2 team possession soccer drill

Purpose:

The purpose of this possession soccer drill is to encourage players to retain possession when the numbers are in their favor. This is a great introduction drill for teams who a new to trying to keep possession of the ball.

Set up:

  • 25x40 yard area divided in half
  • 2 soccer balls
  • 2 teams of 6
  • 4 goals

Instructions:

Divide your area in half, set up the 4 goals, and separate your players into 2 equal teams of 6.

Each team of six will have its own half.

2 players from each team of 6 will swap over, becoming the defenders in the opposite area. This will create a 4v2 scenario in both halves.

The two teams will be competing against each other for the highest score.

The team keeping possession of the ball will score points by trying to as many consecutive passes in a row as possible.

For example, if a team manages to get 10 passes in a row their score would be 10.

If the defending team is able to steal the ball and score a goal that will take 1 point off the possessing team’s score.

So if the possessing teams’ high score was 10 and the 2 defenders managed to score 3 goals, the possessing teams’ final score would be 7.

The team with the highest score will be the winner.

To make sure every player has a chance to defend there must be at least 3 rounds.

Coaching points:

  • If you do not have the ball you should be moving to support your teammate on the ball
  • Scan the area so you are aware of what is going on around you
  • The first touch should take you towards the space and away from the pressure

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • If you do not have the ball what can you do to support your teammate on the ball?
  • How can you be aware of what is going on around you?
  • Where should you first touch take and what should it take you away from?

Stay out of the middle soccer possession game

Purpose:

The purpose of this drill is to help your team retain possession of the ball and split the defenders to be able to play a pass that breaks defensive lines.

Set up:

  • 20 x 45-yard area
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 3 teams of 4

Instructions:

Set up your area and divide it into three equal thirds that are 20 yards wide and 15 yards long. Each team of 4 will have its own area, with the team in the middle section becoming the defending team.

The goal of the outside teams is to maintain possession of the ball. Every time they are able to play passes through the middle section and to the team on the opposite side that will count as one point.

However, when a possessing team has the ball in their section 2 defenders can leave the middle section and go into their sections to try and win the ball back.

If the defending team is able to win possession back of the ball then they will swap sections with the team that lost possession of the ball.

Coaching points:

  • Be patient with the build-up, try to work the defenders apart to create gaps to play passes through
  • If you do not have the ball and you’re on the other side of the defensive line try to find gaps where you can receive the ball between defenders.
  • Receive the ball on your back foot in an open body position to keep as many options open to you as you are on the ball.

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • Do you need to try and force the pass forward? What could you try and do instead?
  • If you are looking to receive the ball between defensive lines, what should you be looking to find?
  • What foot should you look to control the ball with? Why?

4v1 possession rondo soccer drill

Purpose:

The purpose of this possession soccer rondo is a good way to introduce the basics of possession soccer.

Having 4v1 scenarios gives the players an appropriate amount of pressure that enables them to get success but also challenges them.

Set up:

  • 7x7 yard area
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 5 players ( 1 defender)

Instructions:

Set up your area and place 4 players on the outside of the square (1 per side) with 1 player in the middle.

The players on the outside must see how many passes in a row they can get before the defender is able to steal the ball.

When the defender steals the ball they will swap with the player that gave the ball away.

Coaching points:

  • Create angles to support the player on the ball
  • Communicate with your teammates to help them make decisions quicker
  • Make sure you are receiving passes in an open body position.

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How can you support your teammate on the ball?
  • How can you help your teammates mates make quicker decisions?
  • What body position should you receive the ball in?

Target player possession soccer drill

Purpose:

The purpose behind this soccer possession drill is focus on getting the ball to a target player, then supporting the target player to help retain possession of the ball. (This could represent a striker in a game).

Set up:

  • 10x10 yard area
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 2 teams of 4

Instructions:

Set up your square and place 2 players from each team into the middle of the area.

The other 2 players from the team will stand opposite each other on different sides of the square. These 2 players will act as target players for the players in the middle.

The teams in the middle will be competing for possession of one soccer ball.

When a team is able to successfully combine passes from one target player to another that will count as 1 point.

The team that has the most points will be the winner.

Make sure you rotate players from the middle to the outside at the end of a 3 minute round.

Coaching points:

  • Create space for yourself by moving away from the space with your first movement and then into the space with your second movement
  • Check-in on an angle to make it easier to receive the ball in an open body position
  • Scan the area before you receive the ball so you have an idea of where the defenders and your teammates are.

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How can you create space for yourself?
  • How should receive the ball from a target player?
  • What should you do before you receive a ball from the target player?

2v2 possession square

Purpose:

The purpose of this soccer drill is to retain possession in a small area. As there are only 2 players in the square players are constantly moving to create options to receive a pass.

Set up:

  • 7x7 yard area
  • 2 teams of 2
  • 1 soccer ball

Instructions:

The aim of this possession soccer drill is to maintain possession of the ball in the 7x7 yard area.

You can score this in a couple of different ways.

The first way you can see which team gets the most consecutive passes, the team that does this will be the winner at the end of 3 minutes.

Or at the end of 3 minutes, the team that has possession of the ball will be the winner.

If you have more than 1 square you can introduce a ladder system where the winning team moves up a square and the losing team moves down.

Coaching points:

  • The first touch should be towards the space and away from the pressure
  • Create space for yourself by moving
  • Communicate with your teammate to help them make better decisions on and off the ball

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • Where should your first touch take you?
  • How can you create space for yourself?
  • How can you help your teammate make better decisions on/off the ball?

2 square soccer possession drill

Purpose:

The purpose of this possession soccer drill is to encourage teams to win the ball back then play to a target player as quickly as possible.

Set up:

  • 2 10x10 yard areas 20 yards apart
  • 2 teams of 4
  • 1 soccer ball

Instructions:

Create your 2 10x10 yard areas 20 yards apart and divide your players into 2 equal teams of 4 with one team in each area.

the drill will start with 1 team possessing the soccer ball in their square.

3 players from the other square will come into the possessing teams to square to try and win the ball back, with 1 player staying back in their team’s own square.

This will create a 4v3 in the attacking teams’ favor

Once the 3 players win possession back they must try to play ball to their target player back in their own square.

They will now become the possession team and transition to keeping possession in their square with the opposing team bringing in 3 players and leaving a target player in their area to play to when they win the ball back.

Every time a team completes 10 passes they will get 1 point.

The team that gets the most points will be the winner

Coaching points:

  • Communication is key either when pressing or maintaining possession of the ball, giving players information they use to make better decisions or stay organized
  • If you are the target player you should be watching and anticipating where and when your teammates could win the ball and move to areas where you can receive it if they do win it
  • Keep an open body position when receiving the ball to have as many options open to you as possible while on the ball

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How can communication help with the decision-making of your teammates?
  • If you are the target playing what should you be watching out for? Why?
  • How should you be receiving the ball? Why?

Small sided possession game for playing out the back

Purpose:

The purpose of this soccer drill is to help players keep possession of the ball when they are in their own half, either being pressured by an opposing team’s press or when looking to play out from the back.

Set up:

  • 25 x 40-yard area divided in half
  • 2 goals
  • 2 teams of 3

Instructions:

Set up your area divide in half with 2 goals set up like a normal game.

The goals will not be used to score, they will be used to help give a reference to the players.

This will be a possession-based game with 2 teams 3.

The way a team scores points is by completing 5 passes in their own half.

If the opposition team is able to steal the ball they must take the ball back to their own half to attempt to make 5 passes.

The team with the most points will become the winner.

Coaching points:

  • Receive the ball in a side on body position so you can see the whole area
  • Try to create passing triangles
  • Help support your teammate on the ball by moving into spaces and areas where you could receive the ball.

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What is the best position to receive the ball in so you can see everything?
  • What shape can you create so the player on the ball will always have 2 options?
  • How can you help support your teammate on the ball?

Small sided possession game for changing the point of attack

Purpose:

The purpose of this possession soccer drill is to help teams keep the ball in the opponent’s half by changing the point of attack.

Set up:

  • 25 x 40-yard area divided in half
  • 2 goals
  • 2 teams of 3

Instructions:

Set up your area divided into half with 2 goals set up like a normal game.

The goals will not be used to score, they will be used to help give a reference to the players.

This will be a possession-based game with 2 teams of 3.

Teams will be able to score points when they successfully complete 5 passes in the opposing team’s half. This would help teams keep possession and try to work openings against teams who are very good at maintaining their defensive shape.

If the opposition team is able to steal the ball they must take the ball to their opponent’s half and try to make as many passes as they can.

The team will the most points is the winning team.

Coaching points:

  • Scan the area so you are able to see where the space, your teammates, and opposition are
  • If you do not have the ball try to anticipate where you could receive the ball in space
  • Communicate with your teammates, give them information about their surroundings so they can make the best decisions possible

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What does scanning the area enable you to see?
  • If you do not have the ball what should you be trying to anticipate?
  • How can you help your team make the best decisions on the ball?

Soccer drills for possession conclusion

This post should have given you ideas of soccer drills for possession that you can use with your teams at any level.

There are a lot of overlapping coaching points for each of the soccer drills for possession but these are the foundation of making sure that your team excels at retaining possession of the ball.

Ensure that you are consistent with your coaching points with an emphasis on the body position players should be receiving the ball in, scanning the area, and moving off the ball.

If you have any more soccer drills for possession that you have used leave me a comment on the post.

Or if you know a coach that might find these soccer drills for possession helpful then please share it with them using our social media buttons.

Thank you,

Toby.

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