Should I Coach Possession Soccer?

A Coach Asks

I would like to get new coaching activities for possession soccer.  What could you recommend?

Some Ideas

First, see the Possession article.

I don't coach possession soccer as an isolated part of the game, and don't suggest that other coaches make it a solitary critical focus either, at least to the exclusion of other attacking topics that lead to scoring goals.  As you go forward in youth coaching into team tactics, possession as a separate topic may not be as valuable a soccer training topic as combination play and individual attacking tactics which take the skills and tactics needed to play possession and put them into a game that has direction and goes to goal.  In other words, possession is a good capability but it should be used with other abilities to attack the opponent's goal.

At the team level, the game of soccer is very simple.  The attacking team tries to change the point of attack faster than the defending team can change its defending shape to get pressure on the ball.  If the attacking team succeeds, it can play the ball into space behind the defense, go to goal, and get a shot.

Nowhere in this game is pure possession sufficient, by itself, to win games.  Possession by itself does not have a direction and there is no way to translate possession into shots and goals.  Lots of teams have most of the possession but don't get the goals.  Possession, as a topic, seems insufficient.  Although changing the point of attack requires possession, it overlooks attacking against pressure, actually taking defenders on or using combination play to get behind defenders.  Possession leading to more possession is not productive.  Possession leading to changing the point of attack, creating isolations, creating passing angles, and making goal scoring opportunities is useful.

I recommend that you limit possession exercises to those needed to teach speed of play (including body shape, creating passing angles, and providing quick support), and that you move quickly to exercises that have direction and go to goal.  It may be best to teach attacking and to teach defending to win the ball to attack.