The Blog

Six Simple Passing and Possession Sessions

In this article, PDP Coaching Advisor, James Coutts shares some of his favourite passing and possession practices which can be adapted for players across all age groups.

Like many coaches I love using rondos or small-sided positional games consistently in my sessions. There are so many variations that can be used, each with a variety of outcomes. I have implemented all the sessions below with a range of age groups from six-years-old right up to senior players, adapting the practices to suit the group in question.

Having different designs and layouts can offer a great opportunity for hidden learning to take place. Task constraints such as field size, layout or conditions (such as ensuring players move after each pass) have different outcomes and each variation can either reduce or ramp up realism or repetition.

Like all sessions we share at Player Development Project these are designed as as a guide, to provoke thought and can be adapted based on the age and stage of the players you’re working with.

1. Pass Appreciation

Rules

  • Each box has a set number of touches.
  • Box 1 = 1 touch only, Box 2 = 1 or 2 touches, Box 3 = Must take 2 touches.
  • One player stays in for set time OR if you give the ball away you become the defender.
  • Each group rotates through each grid throughout the session, ensuring all players experience different grids where achieving success is a lot to do with different types of passing and pass understanding.

Coaching Points

  • Pass with the knowledge of how many touches your teammate has.
  • Passing the ball with the correct weight and accuracy.
  • Communicating to your teammates around what their next passing option may be.
  • Constant scanning for information of where the defender is positioned.
  • Working off the ball to create angles and options for the player on the ball.

Trade Offs & Adaptations

  • Depending on age and stage adapt number of touches per square OR don’t have any limit at all. The different sizes of the squares will ensure the players have different scenarios in each square.
  • High level of repetition of short passing under limited pressure.
  • Sacrificing realism around number of touches, but improving the speed of play and quick passing/receiving. You could adapt these rules for individuals depending on strengths/weaknesses.

2. Changing the Point of Attack

 

Rules

  • Players around the outside work between the flat discs or cones.
  • One central player (#10) can move across both boxes.
  • Defenders can defend in either square.
  • If defenders win the ball, they have 3 seconds to score in either of the little goals, the central player is the only player allowed to tackle them. Adapt the time limit to your players.

Coaching Points

  • Encourage players to drag defenders over to one side and exploit space as it emerges.
  • Tempo change: When to slow the tempo down which will drag players in before switching quickly.
  • Players off the ball working hard up and down their line to create angles of support for the players on the ball.
  • Central player looking to be the link player as much as possible. Encourage outside players to get the central player on the ball.

Trade Offs & Adaptations

  • Depending on your preference, you can have defenders centrally for a set time or change each time someone gives the ball away.
  • Area can be adjusted depending on age and stage.
  • Overload gives the team in possession success under limited pressure whilst encouraging defenders to solve problems when outnumbered.

3. Against the Clock

 

 

Rules

  • 5 or 6 players are inside a square waiting for the ball to be played in by the coach.
  • 1 defender comes into the square and has 10 seconds to try and win the ball back.
  • If the defender wins the ball or the ball leaves the square, then the teams swap.
  • After 10 seconds the coach blows the whistle or calls “change” where the defender must immediately leave the square and a new defender enters.
  • Every time you get through a defender (10 seconds) that is a goal for your team.

Coaching Points

  • Composure under pressure.
  • Knowing where the next press is coming from.
  • Players off the ball working hard to create angles and support for the player on the ball.
  • Defenders – encourage an aggressive immediate press.

Trade Offs & Adaptations

  • Defenders can be in for a set period so each time they win the ball back they get a goal as oppose to swapping places.
    To promote movement you may introduce that players have to move into a different space after each pass.
  • Good physical returns in short/sharp bursts.
  • Players create habits around pressing the ball with energy.

4. Support the 10

 

Rules

  • 5 v 2 with the outside players fixed in between the flats or cones.
  • One player (#10) centrally looking at finding pockets of space and link play.
  • Players can rotate when give the ball away or work to limited times (e.g. two minute sets) and swap players.
  • Players can score a goal by getting a set number of passes OR by playing through the 10 and splitting the defensive pair.

Coaching Points

  • #10: Finding clever pockets of space.
  • #10 looking to receive on the half turn and play forward.
  • Outside players encouraged to move up and down the line in relation to where the #10 is positioned to ensure they are not in the same space or on the same line.
  • Players off the ball working hard to create angles and support for the player on the ball.

Trade Offs & Adaptations

  • Numbers can increase to 6 v 2 or 6 v 3, would encourage to keep the players fixed on the outside to ensure the area stays as big as possible.
  • Progress to allow central player to rotate in and out of the square throughout the practice with team mates

5. Play & Move

 

 

Rules

  • 6 v 2 inside a grid of approx. 16 x 16. The pitch has four small grids within the one large grid.
  • The team with the ball must move into a different box after they have passed the ball.
  • All four grids must always have a player within it.
  • Defenders are looking to win the ball back as soon as possible and score in any of the four small goals provided.

Coaching Points

  • Scanning will be crucial, not only for passing and receiving but also knowing when to move off the ball to ensure all 4 grids are filled.
  • Understanding when to release the pass.
  • Scanning whilst moving to look at which square is the best to run into.
  • Defenders looking to set traps in order to win the ball back.

Trade Offs & Adaptations

  • To step up you can ask players to run around one of the small goals before entering a new grid (as per picture) for a physical return

6. Playing Through Pairs

 

 

Rules

  • 6 v 2 inside a grid of approx. 16 x 16. The pitch has four little grids within the one large grid.
  • After every pass, the inside players must move into a different square.
  • All zones must always have players present to ensure still have balance amongst the team.
  • After every 10 seconds the coach will shout “change” and a new pair will enter the grid whilst the pair pressing leave.
  • The defensive team come out in pairs and are looking to win the ball back asap.
  • Defenders stay for a set period time e.g. 2-3 mins.

Coaching Points

  • Scanning will be crucial, not only for passing and receiving but also knowing when to move off the ball to ensure all four grids are filled and looking for oncoming defenders.
  • Understanding when to release the pass and where to play based on new pressure entering the grid regularly.
  • Knowing your next pass.
  • Defenders looking to set traps in order to win the ball back and send play towards supporting pressure.

Trade offs/Adaptations

  • Switch teams every time they win the ball back OR if the defenders win the ball and score they automatically come out of the grid.
  • This session can be very physical, so adapt the space accordingly and manage times.