Soccer Session For Hold Up Play

When we imagine dribbling we imagine an attacker facing the defender as they are dribbling and this is the only part that we focus on. This soccer session for hold-up play will aim to improve players’ ability to control the ball under pressure from a defender when they have their back to them.

If you would like this session as a downloadable PDF then head to the bottom of the page

Having players who are happy to receive the ball under pressure with their back to goal in your team will improve your team’s ability to retain possession and help create attacking chances.

This session is designed to help players feel comfortable with receiving contact from the defender, teaching them how to use their bodies to protect the ball and bring their teammates into play.

Hold up Play warm-up

Time: 15 minutes

Set up:

  • 10 x 15-yard area
  • 1 soccer ball per pair
  • 1 defender and attacker


Create your area and get your players into pairs with one soccer ball. One player will be the attacker with the ball and the other will be the defender.

The attacker will start with their back to the defender and their goal is to try and turn so that they are facing the defender while still in control of the soccer ball.

The attacker will have 10 seconds to do so with the defender counting to 10. If the attacker is able to do this they will get 3 points if the defender manages to drop the attacker from turning they will get 1 point.

Coaching points:

  • Body position should be side-on to protect the ball
  • Control the soccer ball with your front foot
  • Use skills and body feints to help give you some time and space to turn

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What position should our body be in to protect the ball?
  • What foot should we be using to control the soccer ball?
  • How can we create time and space for ourselves to turn?

Hold up Play technical activity

Time: 15 minutes

Set up:

  • 10 x 15-yard area
  • 1 soccer ball per pair
  • 1 defender and attacker


Keep the setup the same, however, players will start in the middle of the area.

The way that the attackers will score this time is if they dribble past the line that they are facing away from where they will get 3 points if they successfully do this.

If the defender wins the ball back they will dribble past the line that they are facing for a total of 1 point.

Coaching points:

  • Use skills and body feints to give yourself some space to turn and face the defender
  • When facing the defender use a skill or a body feint combined with a change of direction and speed to get past the defender

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How can you get in a position where you are facing the defender?
  • Once you are facing the defender what can you do next?

Hold up play Soccer progression

Time: 20 minutes

Set up:

  • 10 x 15-yard area
  • 2 goals
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 2 defenders 2 attackers


Set up your area and goals on either side of the area with 2 defenders and 2 attackers. 1 of the attackers will start in the middle with the 2 defenders. the other attacker will pass the ball into their teammates’ feet who will be under pressure from the defender.

As soon as the ball is played to the striker the ball will become live, if the attacking team scores a goal within the phase of play where the attacker is able to turn on the ball and face the defender the goal will be worth 3 goals.

If they score a goal without this happening it will be worth 1 goal.

If the defending team wins the ball and scores in the opposite goal they will get 1 point.

At the end of the phase whether a goal is scored or the ball goes out of bounds it will always restart with the attackers.

Every 5 phases of play the defenders and attackers will swap around.

Coaching points:

  • Protect the ball with a side-on-body stance and control it with the front foot
  • If you do not have the ball how can you support your teammate on the ball
  • If you cannot play forwards rebuild to start the attack again

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How should you be holding up the ball?
  • Where can you go to help the player with the ball?
  • Do you always have to go forward?

Hold up play conditioned game

Time: 20 mins

Set up:

  • 15 x 20-yard area divided into halves
  • 2 goals
  • 2 teams


Set up your area and divide it in half with the lines down the middle and goals on either side. In each half, there will be 2 defenders and 1 attacker and they must stay in their areas. A player can only cross the line once they play the ball to their attacker in the opposite half.

This will create a 2v2

The scoring system will be the same in a normal game.

Coaching points:

  • Reinforce previous coaching points
  • Focus on individual coaching points

Regular scrimmage: 20 minutes

Soccer Session Hold Up Play Conclusion

If you have any soccer sessions that you have used to help with your soccer teams’ hold-up play then let me know in the comments below.

Also if you know a coach who may find this helpful then please share it with them using the social media buttons.

Thank you!


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Soccer session hold up play PDF

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