This practice is a 4v4+3 positional game. It creates a 7v4 scenario for the team in possession and includes the three main moments of football, attack, defence and transition so is a highly valuable tool to develop players understanding of positional play, controlling possession and counter pressing. The practice also provides great opportunities to work on scanning, receiving and releasing skills.

About the Video

In the video below, PDP Co Founder, Dave Wright talks you through the practice design and some of the key adaptations.

Would you like to enhance your knowledge of session design? Click here to learn more.

Additional Information

The structure of this practice lends itself to a number of outcomes, including:

  • Positional understanding
  • Receiving skills
  • Releasing skills
  • Building and controlling possession
  • Scanning and awareness
  • Transition
  • Counter pressing

Key elements to observe and encourage are:

  • Speed, type and shape of pass
  • Positions players receive the ball in
  • Body shape when receiving
  • Reactions in transition
  • Intent to play forward
  • Desire and effort to win the ball back

Practice Overview

Topic: Controlling possession

No. of Players: 10-14

Goalkeepers: N/A

Practice Type: Positional game

Offsides: N/A

Pitch Size: 20 x 12

Timing: 15-20 mins

Age Group: 9+

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


Set up a small rectangular area. Players are stationed in positions to replicate the game. For example. 4 wide players (wingers/fullbacks), one deep player (centre back), one central player (centre midfielder) and one high player (striker). 4 players (yellow) defend centrally and if they win the ball, replace the blues, while the blues defend. The numbers on players are a guide to demonstrate how the picture looks relative to the position of the ball.
Practice adapted for 10 players in a 3v3+4. If you had 9 players, it could be a 3v3+3. If you have two pivot players (6/8 red) use the halfway line as a visual guide for them to ensure they play on opposite lines (one short, one high). If they receive on the same line (or in the same box) they become easier to defend.
Practice adapted for 12 players. Any of these practices are highly valuable for position specific work. If you have central midfield players, you may choose to leave them in the red pivot roles (6/8) for an extended period of time. You may also use this position for a player working on passing/receiving under pressure or scanning.
This image shows the set up for a 4v4+5 with 13 players. This is a great opportunity to work on the combination of a midfield 3 (red 6/8/10). Again, the halfway line is a visual aid for players to receive on different lines – for example two players high and one low. Central players can move anywhere in any of these practices.
This image shows the practice adapted for 14 players in a 5v5+4 presenting another chance to work on a midfield 3. Notice the blue and yellow team have one central player each. The transition moment presents a challenge getting reorganised, so you can encourage the team to nominate who will be their central player in and out of possession.


This practice is designed to encourage players to receive between and beyond players. Players focus on taking up good positions with the intent to receive and play forward, keeping possession as long as possible in a 7v4 scenario.


Set up a small rectangular area. The smaller it is, the harder it is for the team in possession. Select 3 neutral players (red) to play as targets and a pivot. If you have 12 players, include 2 pivots, 13 players, 3 pivots and 14 players would change the game to a 5v5+4. Blue plays with red with the aim of moving the ball up and down the pitch. Blue must stay outside the area, yellow defend inside but are allowed outside the box to press blue or red players. If yellow win the ball, they secure the ball to a team mate or neutral red player, blue transition as quickly as possible to defend and yellow take up positions outside the box. This transition moment is critical, it should be a fast reaction.

Observations & Interventions

What you might see

  • Players transitioning slowly
  • Players receiving in front of defenders (instead of beyond/between)

Actions you might take

  • Reward teams with a point for winning the ball back within 5 seconds
  • Encourage players to find space between players/lines

Adaptations: Is the session too easy?

  • Make the space smaller
  • Encourage players in possession to play off 1-3 touches where possible

Is the session too hard?

  • Make space bigger
  • Restrict defenders to press/block but not tackle neutral players

Do you want to enhance your understanding of Session Design in Football?

Understanding how to design the best possible sessions for your players is a complex topic. In our course, Foundations of Session Design, world-class academy coaches Dan Wright & Dave Wright guide you through all of the key considerations of session design from planning and delivering, through to individualising your approach and understanding the impact of culture on your training.

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