Midfield possession drill – Control every game

Midfield possession drill – Control every game
Tactics Manager

In modern football, controlling the midfield wins games. Therefore, your team must recover the ball as quickly as possible and then keep its control to generate goal opportunities or keep the clock ticking. This post details a midfield possession drill that will help your team control games. 


You will need a ballbibs2 x small goals and cones to create the grid in the picture. You don’t need a football pitch, but enough space to mark the midfield box. Each box is approximately 12m x 12m. 

This drill is designed for 12 players (6 players per team) to simulate the midfield and attack of two teams with a classic 4-2-2 formation. You could practice variations with fewer players, but some positional aspects the exercise addresses will be missing. For example, you can use 2 to 3 players inside the box.  


This game is like a rondo with goals and a couple of twists. A team tries to pass the ball around while the other attempts to recover it. The additional instructions are:

  • Divide the players into two teams of 6 players each.
  • 4 players per team are distributed in the marked pitch, 1 per cell in the grid. These players work as central midfielders or attackers, depending on the situation.
  • The remaining 2 players act as wingers and stay outside the marked zone, one at each side of the box. 
  • When a team possesses the ball, the players inside the box must stay in their cells. That is, they must maintain the formation.
  • The players defending inside the box can move anywhere. So, more than one defending player can be in a cell at any given time.   
  • The wingers cannot enter the box but can move up and down as they please.
  • The players in possession can only pass the ball to a contiguous cell or the winger on their side.
  • Both wingers must touch the ball first for a team to score a goal.
  • Goals are scored on the opposite side of the field where the progression started. For example, in the picture above, the team aims to score in the small goal at the bottom of the image. If they had started the possession at the bottom of the box, they would have to score in the small goal in the top of the figure. 
  • Players cannot touch the ball more than 3 times.
  • Once a defending player intercepts and controls the ball (instead of kicking it away or deflecting it), the possession changes, and the defending team attempts to score in the opposite small goal from where they recover the ball.    
  • Play until a scoring target. For example, 5 goals.

You can add variations to this exercise. For example, limited touches until a team scores 2 goals. Then, the team that achieves the target has unlimited touches of the ball. 


This drill focuses on improving ball control in the middle of the park. Additionally, your team will improve:

  • Possession: This exercise encourages a possession game and keeps every player involved by forcing the ball to circulate from winger to winger.
  • Passing. Players must improve their passing technique to ensure their team retains possession.
  • First touch. Because the number of allowed touches is restricted, players must improve their first touch to control and pass the ball.
  • Quick decision-making. Limiting touches and allowing the defending players to crowd the player with the ball forces players to make decisions quickly.
  • Positioning and team shape. When in attack, the team must maintain form. When defending, although defending players have a bit more freedom, defending players will still tend to stay close to the player they are marking and only move out of the cell to close lines.
  • Teamwork. This passing drill encourages teamwork over individual efforts. Players have to coordinate their movements to keep or regain possession.
  • Fitness. This game is physically demanding. Players must execute this drill fast and continuously to beat the opposition team. 

I hope 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 PabloMatamoros.com