Atlético Madrid possession drill

by Pablo M13th Jan 2020

Even top professional coaches design simple drills for their teams. These drills help players to assimilate ideas and tactics. This post discusses an Atlético Madrid possession drill used by Diego Simeone in his training sessions.


For this drill, you will need cones to mark a small pitch and 4 small goals. First, divide the pitch into 2 zones and 4 swimlanes, as shown in the picture above. Set 2 goals at each side of the field between 2 swimlanes.

Ideally, you want to practise this drill with 12 players: 4 defenders and 2 strikers per side. However, if you have a bigger number of players, set up multiple fields.


The main objective of this drill is to practice defending in block and possession. The offensive players objective is to score in the small goal on their side of the field. The defenders objective is to intercept passes and keep possession while waiting for a clear pass opportunity to the offensive players.

  • 2 teams of 6 players.
  • Play starts always with players arranged as shown in the picture above.
  • Only 2 touches are allowed: 1 touch to control the ball and 1 touch to pass the ball.
  • Defenders are only allowed to move in the swim lane on their defensive half.
  • Offensive players are allowed to move between the two swimlanes on their side of the field.
  • Only the offensive players can score.
  • Offensive players can only score in the goal on their side of the field.
  • Offensive players can’t score when they receive the ball from the defense. They must pass the ball to the opposite offensive player to score.
  • If the ball goes out, possession of the ball changes to the opposite team.

You may want to consider some variations, such as defenders needing to complete several passes before passing the ball to the offensive players. But, again, be creative and add your own rules.


  • Passing. The objective for the team in possession is to pass the ball to their offensive players. Moving the ball around will move the opposition and eventually create penetrating pass opportunities.
  • Positioning. This exercise encourages intelligent movements from the offensive players to get themselves within the line of a pass. The opposition must maintain good defensive shape and organization in order to prevent passing options.
  • Timing and reaction. The offensive player who receives a pass from the defence must pass to the opposite offensive player before his team can score. This rule encourages defenders to react quickly in an attempt to prevent conceding a goal.
  • Defensive teamwork. If you pay attention to the video below, you will hear Simeone and his assistant shouting instructions. They are discouraging defensive players from staying in a line. Defenders must position themselves in a slight diagonal to make it more difficult for the ball to break the defence and reach the offensive players. Therefore, one player presses on the player with possession of the ball, while the other move one step or two behind in a diagonal.

Keep the intensity in the game. In the video, Simeone is pointing mistakes and encouraging a high tempo for the exercise.

I hope you find this drill useful. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. If you know other exercises or have any questions, leave a comment below.

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