Possession with Purpose

Youth Team Session Plan – Possession with Purpose

Objective: Possession with Purpose (This session is one I adapted from a session posted on twitter by Gavin McLeod (@GavMac21) Cincinnati Saints NPSL Head Coach)

The Set Up: One or two pitches (dependant on numbers) I used 50×25, but use whats appropriate to your team and the space available.

Ball Work – As the players arrive partner them up and get them passing between two. After each successful set of 8 to 10 passes get them to take a step further away from each other. How far apart can they complete 8 to 10 passes?

Pass and Move Unopposed: Split the players in two and play in separate halves of the pitch. The play is unopposed with players passing the ball in their group and moving into space. Those not in possession should also be constantly moving into what they feel is the best space. So the picture is constantly changing for the player in possession.


You can start the exercise off by getting players to roll the ball to each other along the ground. Once players understand what is expected they can then pass the ball, if they can using one or two touches. Other progressions included using a passing sequence (short, short, long). Then make it competitive by seeing which team can make the most passes in 1 minute.

Keepaway: Using the same area as the previous exercise play this keepaway game (5×3, 5v2, 4v2 etc)


The objective for the team with the ball to retain possession in their own half of the pitch, whilst 2 or 3 players from the other group try to recover possession. The attackers get a point for every time they complete a set number of passes without the defenders getting the ball, or the ball going out of the grid. If they defenders gain possession they should look to switch the ball to their free team mates in the other area and move back to provide passing options for their team mates. 2 or 3 players from the team that lost possession now go and defend in the other half.

Four Goal Game:  A regular game but each team has a goal in each corner they can shoot for.


The use of four goals means that players will learn to use the space on the flanks by switching play. As a result the game should increase awareness and encourage players to play with their heads up, rather than looking down at the ball all the time. The team without possession need to play smart because the extra goal will make it seem like they are playing a player down.

Normal Game: Focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players taking players making decisions that enable their team to maintain possession.


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