Exploiting possession

Penetrating the opposition is key to creating goalscoring chances. Combination play is a vital part of your coaching strategy and by using this session you can get players to understand how and why linking up in the final third will help your team score more goals.

Set up

Set up a 30×40 grid, with two 5-yard horizontal channels on either side of the playing area with the nearest channel to the grid being split into 5×15 yards.

How to play it

This is a 7v7 directional possession game with a 5v3 rondo in the middle of the grid. There are two target players and four screening defenders on the outside of the grid. Switch team roles during rest.
The red team is looking to find the feet of one of their two targets players, who are on either end of the playing area, with a penetrating pass into feet. Once the red target receives the ball they are looking to play back into the area to maintain possession and find the other target on the other side of the grid. A point is scored each time the target player receives the ball and a second point is earned if the target is able to play back into the area.
The white team has four screening defenders who must stay in their zone and three defenders in the area. The job of the three defenders in the area is to make play predictable and win possession of the ball with the help of the four ‘screening’ defenders who must help screen the target player by denying passing lanes and cutting out penetrating passes. If the white team win the ball, the must try and maintain possession for five seconds to earn a point and every additional five seconds is another point.
At the end of the training session play the small sided game to watch your coaching points in action.


First look forward. Find target early if possible, but do not force, be patient in possession until mismatch is recognized. Understand cues to penetrate and find the target.

Penetrating passes

    1. Points are scored by passing to the target players at the ends of the area. An extra point for passing back into the area to maintain possession.
    2. Keeping possession in the central area is key to creating chances to penetrate the two screening defenders

    3. The screening defenders must block passing lanes and cut out penetrating passes.
    4. If the white defenders win the ball they must keep possession for 5 seconds to score a point.
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