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3 Free 'Possession With a Purpose' Exercises

How many times do a team dominate possession only to lose by a goal against the run of play? As more coaches today favor possession based styles, balancing verticality and creating a final product with that possession is becoming an essential skill to develop on the training pitch. In this week's breakdown we take a look at some ways in which coaches can take 'traditional possession games' and add or tweak them to give players exposure to those goal-scoring situations that coaches are looking to create on game-day.

You can watch the full MSC Breakdown below. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel if you enjoy it.

Below are the details of the three games discussed in the video.

Progression Games (8v8 Game)

Two teams of eight players are organized into a 35x60 yard area split into three zones. Teams will have two defenders and a goalkeeper in the first zone, three midfielders in the second zone, and two forwards in the third zone. The objective of the game is to play through the three zones before scoring. Defensive players are limited to move only in their own zones, but the team in possession can move freely between the zones to create overloads and advance the ball. If the ball is won by the defensive team, roles change immediately and the attacking players must move back to their original zone.

Breakout Game (5v5+4)

Fifteen players are organized into two teams of five, four neutral players, plus a goalkeeper. The exercise takes place in a 20x40 yard area which is split into two. The top half of the area is the possession grid, while the other half acts as a goal-scoring area. 

The game starts with a 5v5+2 in the top half. One team is designated as the possession team (red in the example) and are looking to use an overload with the two neutrals to complete three consecutive passes, before playing to the wide neutrals in the other area. 

Once the ball is played into the wide neutrals, two red attackers can go in support and one defensive player from blue can drop in also. The wide neutrals are limited to one-touch so support must arrive fast, and red are trying to score immediately. If blue wins possession, they can score in the mini-goals at the top. 

4v4 Shot Clock Game

Four attackers compete against four defenders plus a goalkeeper in 40x20 yard space around the penalty area. All players are assigned a zone to start, with two 1v1s in the wide area and a 2v2 in the central area. The coach will start the exercise by playing the ball in and the attacking team has 12 seconds to score. All attacking players are free to move anywhere but the defensive players are restricted to their zones. This allows the attacking players the option of creating an overload or utilizing a 1v1 situation. If defenders win possession, they can score in either mini-goal for 2 points. Play twelve games total and keep the score running throughout.

If you enjoy this breakdown, please check out our MSC eBook:Twenty Attacking Training Sessions, designed to help coaches connect the dots between philosophy, tactical flexibility and session design. The book contains twenty full session plans that are broken down into three phases: build-up, midfield progression, and goal-scoring. Each session will contain three exercises so there are 60 exercises overall! With his experience in the professional game as a coach and an analyst, Gary Curneen has designed these sessions to help bring out intensity, tactical understanding and game-like situations, that are enjoyable for both players and staff. Click here to get your copy.

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