Zonal keep ball

A possession game rewarding attackers and defenders. Defenders win the ball and get it back to their area. The game gives attackers many opportunities to pass and receive the ball in a ‘live’ situation – great for working on technique and problem solving in a fun, quick-paced environment.

Set up

You need balls, bibs and cones. Mark out an area 40×20 yards split into two outer zones of 15 yards and a centre zone of 10 yards. We used 12 players in the session

How to play it

Split your players into three teams of 4. Each team is given a designated ‘third’ to start in. The two end thirds are the attacking/possessing teams. The team in the middle third is the defending team. The session starts with a pass to one of the attacking teams. The defending team scores a point if they get the ball back to the middle third or to the coach. The attacking team gets a point if they make 5 consecutive passes. When the defending team wins the ball and gets it to the other outer zone they swap with the team they won the ball off.


Coach is looking for attacking players to move off the ball and get into good angles of support. Attacking players must make wise tactical decisions with the ball. It is best not to give a touch limitation as we want to teach players that there are times they should keep the ball and times they should release it.
Look for defenders to isolate players 1v1 when possible and take advantage of technical errors that the attacking team might make.

    1. The game starts with a pass into the attacking team who must try and make 5 passes.
    2. One defender from the centre can go and try to win the ball – if they win it and can pass to a teammate they get a point, if they kick the ball out no points.

    3. This time the coach allows 2 defenders to enter the attacking team’s area to pressure and try to win the ball.
    4. If the defending team wins the ball they pass it to the team on the opposite side to the attacking team.

    5. When this happens the defending team in the middle swaps with the team they won the ball off.
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