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Atlético Madrid drill

Atlético Madrid possession drill

Even top professional coaches design simple drills for their teams. These drills help players to assimilate ideas and tactics. In this post we discuss 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. Divide the pitch in 2 zones and 4 swimlanes. Set 2 goals at each side of the field between 2 swimlanes. This exercise requires 6 players: 2 players attack and 4 defend.

Atlético Madrid drill setup
Drill created with Tactics Manager


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.

There are some variations that you may want to consider such as defenders needing to complete a number of passes before passing the ball to the offensive players. Be creative and add your own rules.

Lessons to be learned

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.

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.

The offensive player who receives a pass from the defense 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.

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 more difficult for the ball to break the defense 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 not only pointing mistakes but also encouraging a high tempo for the exercise.

Other fun training drills

I hope you found the above drill useful. There are plenty more fun drills that will help your team to work as a unit. We will add more games to the list below as we post them in our blog:

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