Battle of styles

If you want your team to play possession football or a counterattacking style this activity will help. Teams play possession against counterattacking, showing players how to work in and defend against both styles. It is also good for reacting to the point of transition.

Set up

Set up an area of 40×30 yards with 10-yard end zones and a 20-yard centre zone. We used 14 players.

How to play it

Split players into two teams of five who play 5v5 in the centre zone, two neutral players on the outside of the central zone, and two neutral keepers. Start with the team who must keep possession and explain they are winning 1-0 so need to slow play and keep the ball – they use the two neutrals on the outside.
The defending team must win the ball and score by passing into either end zone and attacking either goal. The ball must go in the end zones before the player, who goes 1v1 with the keeper. If he scores, roles are reversed and the counterattackers become the possession team leading 1-0.


This is a good session for passing and receiving skills, shooting, pressing, and for reacting to the moment of transition to see who can capitalise on winning the ball and who reacts to cover when the ball is lost.

    1. The team in possession use the neutral players on the side to keep the ball
    2. The defending team must press and try to force mistakes so they can win the ball

    3. When the defending team wins the ball they must counterattack quickly
    4. The counterattacking team can score at either end but the ball must go into the zone before the player

    5. The player put through on goal goes 1v1 against the keeper. If he scores the team roles are switched and the possession team become the counterattackers
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