Kickabout with possession – Run the clock

Kickabout with possession – Run the clock
Football Techniques Book

Football is not a high-scoring sport. Therefore, keeping the advantage after scoring is crucial to the game. This post describes a simple kickabout game with a twist to encourage your team to be patient and run down the clock by keeping possession of the ball.

We implemented the game described in the following sections with my masters’ team (over 35) after a couple of frustrating games in which we were ahead but finished losing. This was particularly frustrating as the other teams were weaker than us. But football is a simple game, and a losing team only need a couple of set pieces to turn around a game.    

The message to the team was to keep calm and run the clock. Opportunities to score will eventually show up when you control the game by moving the ball around the park. Playing a fast and, at times, vertical game to score more goals can lead to silly counterattacks. So, by simply keeping the ball, you put the urgency on the opposition, and at the same time, their players lose stamina faster than you (especially in older divisions like mine).

While harder to apply if you have a weaker team, playing a possession game when you are ahead is also a better strategy than grouping on the back and sustaining a bombardment of crosses and runs from the opposition.

All very well in theory, but how do you practice the above? You can practice one of the many passing drills detailed in this website. Alternatively, you can play a kickaround that encourages possession.


This game doesn’t need much setup. It is a simple football game, but depending on the number of players who attend your training, you may need to change the rules.

If you have 18 or more players, you will need a full-size field with regular-size goals and half a field or a 7-aside field with smaller goals. You are playing this game with goalies as a regular game.


This a simple kickabout, but in addition to official football rules, follow these instructions:

  • Divide your players into two teams to play a regular game of football.
  • Start the game as usual.
  • When a team scores, instead of giving the ball to the opposite team to start, the team that scored restarts the game.
  • The team winning must complete an agreed number of passes before attempting to shoot at the goal again. If you are using an entire field with 18 or more players in the field, aim at 20 passes before shooting. For games with fewer players in a smaller field, aim at 10 passes before shooting.
  • The opposition tries to recover the ball. When they do, they can shoot at the goal whenever they want.
  • When the losing team recovers the ball, even temporarily, they reset the number of passes accumulated by the winning team.
  • In summary, every time the winning team is in possession, they must complete a set number of passes before shooting.
  • When teams are tied, the game continues with the standard rules. No shooting or passing restrictions.

If you can, use a clock like those used in basketball and set a time to finish the game rather than play until everyone is tired (a temptation for amateur teams). This will teach players to be patient and control the game times.


This drill focuses on keeping possession after scoring. Additionally, your team will practice:

  • Passing. The best way to win this game is for players to improve their passing technique and positioning on the field.
  • First touch. While there are no restrictions on the number of touches players can make, players must improve their first touch to move quickly through the field and avoid being pressed by the opposition players.
  • Teamwork. This drill encourages collaboration and synchronisation between players.
  • Positioning. Players have to move on and off the ball to create passing lanes.
  • Pressing. While the game focuses on keeping possession, on the flip side, the team losing has to press to at least reset the number of passes cumulated by the winning team.

If you find this drill helpful. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. Also, if you know about other exercises or have questions, comment on our Facebook page.

Pablo Matamoros

I am a software engineer with 25+ years of experience across diverse industries. I've climbed the corporate leader over the years, which has some benefits but means I moved away from my love for tinkering with technology. So, I build the odd website or application to keep learning and stay in touch with technology. FootballTechniques allows me to combine my programming knowledge with my passion for football.

To find out more about my professional experience, visit