This practice is designed to provide players with the opportunities to practice their passing and receiving skills under defensive pressure.

About the Video

In the video below, Dan will talk you through the structure of the practice, various outcomes and how you can adapt it for your players.

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Practice Overview

Topic: Controlling Possession

No. of Players: 11 – 22

Goalkeepers: N/A

Practice Type: 4v4+3

Offsides: N/A

Pitch Size: 20 x 14

Timing: 15 mins

Age Group: U9+

Interpreting the Diagrams

The key below outlines what the images mean on the diagrams.

If you have questions about the practices, contact the PDP Team or share your views on the Player Development Project Coaching Community.

Key For Diagrams
soccer training diagram


Area set up to accommodate 4 v 4 + 3 positional game in a rectangular area. The figure shows a support player (red) in possession with the blue team.
This figure demonstrates the blues purposefully moving the ball from one side of the playing area to other.
This figure shows the pitch divided into thirds. The team in possession score a point for every zone they are able to progress the ball through. Zero points should be awarded if the ball is passed straight back to where it was received from.

This adaptation is intended to encourage players to move the ball in a forwards direction and play the highest possible pass.
In this example the strarting orientation of the support players has been moved from vertical (bottom to top) to horizontal (left to right) support.

This provides a different problem for the players in and out of possession to solve.
This adaptation includes the use of end zones to restrict movement of two support players (red). All other players can move in and out of this zone.

This adaptation may help to give the in possession team depth in their structure. Further, to provide a focused directional element to practice, the in possession team can receive 1 point for each time they move the ball from one end zone to the other.


This practice is designed to provide players with the opportunities to practice their passing and receiving skills under defensive pressure. The game is 4 v 4 (blue vs yellow) with 3 supporting players (red) playing with team in possession. The attacking team are encouraged to maintain possession of the ball and the defending team are encouraged to press to get possession of the ball.


Set up a rectangular shaped playing area with all players playing inside the area. The ball starts with a support player (red) at either end of the playing area, and play is live from their first touch (pass or touch out of feet). In the figure to the right the reds and blues play together controlling possession of the ball. The yellow team press collectively together to steal the ball and immediately look to control possession with the red players in support. It is recommended consideration is given to where players are positioned within the game, for example the the red players may be a CB with the ball, a CM in the middle, and FW at the top other side of the playing area.

Observations & Interventions

What you might see

  • The speed of the defenders pressing the ball slowing down

Actions you might take

  • Adjust the work : rest ratios to allow for shorter works bouts and longer rest.


Is the session too easy?

  • Reduce the size of the playing area

Is the session too hard?

  • Increase the size of the playing area

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