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Developing Attacking Play-In Possession (12-16) PDF


Developing Attacking Play-In Possession (12-16)

Keep Possession of The Ball

I was recently watching some “old football” in the TV and it featured legendary late 70s and early 80s Liverpool FC Manager, Bob Paisley and when asked about his philosophy on football simply replied “simple! My team play in red so everything we do is based on passing to a player in red, with the ball, and when we don’t have the ball we “work our socks off” to get it back then start the routine of passing to players in red all over again!!”


This team was arguably the most successful English side of all time, certainly the best English team in Europe - so it’s a great basis to build your team on, and even at grassroots the approach still applies!! 



Fads and trends come and go but the “right way” to play the game never changes!!


So, simply put, in a match you can’t do anything positive without the ball. 


With this in mind, here are some tips to help your team keep possession, so that you can create more chances, and score more goals. 

And, when you are in possession, your opponents cannot score (and .............. yes, for the “clever buggers” reading this, I do know you can score own goals!!!)


1. Obey The Law of Possession

Summed up by the  phrase ‘space = time =quality’


In essence, the law of possession states that the more space a player has, the more time they will have on the ball which helps them execute with quality. 

Whether a player is trying to dribble, pass, or shoot, it is easier for them when they have time and space to work with.


Without time and space, even professional players can struggle to execute simple passes and manoeuvres.

High pressure opponents close spaces quickly, which gives attackers very little time. 

It also shows why many teams nowadays are into “high pressing” as pressurising defenders means you pressure players who are normally (not always) less technically, and strong closer to the opposition goal!! 


When the attackers don’t have time, it usually results in lower quality attacking play.


So, how can teams use the law of possession to produce high quality attacking play? 


The key is to create time and space for players. The best players in the world follow the law of possession instinctively. 

For example, a current/recent player with high soccer IQ, who does this without thinking is Thomas Müller (and my favourite Lionel Messi)


If you ever watch Müller, or Messi, play, you’ll see that they are both always on the lookout for open spaces and they put themselves in positions to receive the ball with time and space.


Movement off the ball is critical to developing a possession game. This is why fitness is a crucial part of the game of football!


When players learn to move, and find open space, they will be more difficult to mark and execute with a higher level of quality when the ball comes their way.


“Keep away” drills are great for players to work on movement off of the ball. Here are a few of my favorites:

Targets in the middle

“Targets in the middle” is an excellent drill for players to work on moving the ball, keeping possession, and finding open teammates.

To download click here

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