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Possession From Defense

playing out back


Defenders and midfielders move as a unit across the field and forwards/backwards while retaining possession of the ball.

Game specific benefit

Improve players’ ability and confidence to play a possession style from defense and not resort to kicking the ball long.

Setup & Main Points

  • Use width of field (or smaller area depending on space available)
  • 6 players – 4 defenders and 2 defensive midfielders (1 def mid is enough if you prefer)
  • Ball continuously moves from side to side across defensive line and includes def midfielders
  • Defensive midfielders always showing for passing option
  • Quick ball movement side to side with minimal touches
  • Work at high intensity for 2-3 minutes then rest, reset and start again

Movement & Positioning

Defenders (4) and def midfielders (2) should move as a unit across and forward/backwards.

When ball is with right full back, left full back should be shifted to the middle of the field with centre backs and def midfielders shifted across to provide passing options for right full back.

Full backs (left and right) should be as wide as possible when receiving the ball (on the sideline).

When def midfielders or full backs receive ball and move forward, everyone moves forward together.

Touch limitation

No set touch limitation but aim for 1 or 2-touch passing if possible.


Once concept is understood, introduce 1 or 2 opponents to pressure the ball and make passing more difficult.

Coaching Points

  • Movement – anticipation and spacing to provide passing options
  • Shape – team/unit moving together and maintaining shape
  • Positioning – full backs shifted across when ball on other side of field
  • Communication – both from passer and open players looking to receive
  • Passing – firm passes to prevent interceptions and keep ball circulating quickly



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