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Drills for holding up a ball to allow attacking phase to progress

does anyone have any drills for players holding up possession to either bring other players into the game or run the clock down?

Hi Neal,

This drill is perfect to encourage players to hold up the ball and maintain possession. Get your players into the mentality of winning the ball and looking to offload the ball to runners rather than instantly thinking about beating a man. 

This drill will force players to look to be the link rather than to beat a player. Give it a try and focus on the mentality of players to get into the habit of maintaining possession.

I hope this helps!

Keeping Possession

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3 teams of 6: red blue and yellow.

Set up an area starting at the edge of the penalty box, 44 yards wide and about 20 yards long.

2 teams start in the area with the other team spaced evenly around the edge.

Games of 6 vs 6 using the outside players as extras for whichever team has the ball: 3 minute rotation (including the players on the outside)

The aim of this is for teams to keep possession of the ball for as long as possible.

The players on the outside are 2 touch only.

6 games, so each team plays the others twice.

Coaching Points:
  • Once a player has passed the ball they should move to make the area clear for other teammates to enter the space.
  • Body position: players should shield the ball with their body by keeping their body between the Attacker and the ball.
  • Simple pass: focus on accurate passing particularly in tight areas. Once you have passed the ball clear area for teammate to exploit.
  • Weight of the pass is important to leave the ball playable.
  • Communication between the players- making sure they are calling in space.
    • This is important in a game situation for helping the person with the ball make decisions under pressure.
  • Communicate to teammates to clear areas so that newly created space can be exploited to receive the ball.


Have the players quickly feedback about what went well or where they can improve after each game.

Prompt them by asking what caused them to lose possession in certain situations and what they could do differently next time.

Rugby Rules

Similar to the answer above, a good way to do this is to set up a small sided possession game (3 v 1 or 3 v 2) in a box just outside the penalty area. Add the rest of each team enough to make 6 v 6, 10 yards behind that box towards midfield. Once the possession game has completed 3 consecutive passes they can try to move the ball to teammates outside their box and go for goal. 

The trick is once the ball goes out of the possession box and the attack starts to build, rugby rules go into effect. This means that passes must be made laterally or backwards and players must work to create space to dribble through. It also encourages players to get to the end line no matter where on the end line they can get to because then all passes would be legal. 

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  • search our library of 500+ football drills
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  • or access our tried and tested plans