This practice is designed to provide players with the opportunities to train their ability to retain and regain possession. The practice is helpful in reinforcing aggressive pressing behaviours, and composure on the ball under 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: 8

Goalkeepers: N/A

Practice Type: 5v3

Offsides: N/A

Pitch Size: 18 x 15

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 5v3 game in a rectangular area. The figure shows an example of a team in possession within in the playing area. Note the goals are setup 10-yards beyond the playing area.
To extend the challenge point for the defending team, here we have introduced breakout lines. The defending team must now get the ball across these lines before they are able to finish in the respective goals. 
This examples shows how we can make the practice a two-way directional game. The challenge for the team in possession is can they now progress possession towards a the goal. The challenge for the team out of possession is can they steal possession and score in the goal ahead of them. Note the halfway line introduced for offsides, to further the relation to a real game of football.
In this example a second ball has been added for the team in possession. This second ball has been added to increase the likelihood of scenarios where players will have to protect possession of the ball individually.
In this example, two additional goals have been introduced to score in. This will likely reduce the challenge point for both teams to finish.


This practice is designed to provide players with the opportunities to train their ability to retain and regain possession. Play a 5v3 practice where the team of 5 are challenged to retain possession against 3 defenders. The defending team are encouraged to press to get possession of the ball and quickly counter-attack to score in two small goals.


Set up a rectangular area 18 yards long by 15 yards across. Then 10-yards beyond each end of the playing area position two small goals. To score the team of 5 are tasked to complete 8 passes consecutively, then finish into either of the goals. The defending team of 3 are tasked to steal the ball and immediately finish in either of the two goals. The scoring rules should be adjusted to best fit the appropriate challenge point for the players you are coaching. As this game is physically demanding for the team of 3 defenders it is recommended they frequently rotate with players in the team of 5. The rotations could be achieved through a set time of 60-seconds of defending, or a defending player switching with an attacking player after every turnover in possession.

Observations & Interventions

What you might see

  • In possession players slow to counter-press to win the ball back after losing possession.

Actions you might take

  • Award the out of possession team two points if they score.


Is the session too easy?

  • Reduce the size of the playing area
  • Remove the overload and a play 4v4

Is the session too hard?

  • Increase the size of the playing area
  • Reduce the number of defenders and play 6v2

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