Possession to Finish 2

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: Main area 20 x 30 yards, End zone areas 20 x 10

Teams: 4 v 4 + 4

Time: 15 Minutes


  • To maintain possession
  • To understand when and where to create a shooting opportunity
  • To stay composed under pressure

Start with both teams looking to keep possession by either using their own teammates or the 4 neutrals arounds the edge, I personally give neutrals a short time limit (2-3 seconds) or 2 touches on the ball to force them to make quicker decisions and share the ball around quicker. There are 2 goals (1 & 2) and at any point the coach says ‘goal 1/2 is open’. This means that that goal can be scored in.

The team in possession then works to create opportunities for a member of their team to have space in front of them to shoot at the ‘open’ goal. At any point the coach can ‘close the goal’ in which case the team in possession aims to keep the ball until the next goal becomes open.

Possession to Finish 2 (1)

Depending on how easy/difficult your players are finding creating a shooting opportunity or even scoring you can use two neutrals to become GK’s. This also depends on the size of the goals you have to use. To start with I like to use no GK’s and increase the difficulty depending on how successful the players are.

Possession to Finish 2 (2)

What you are looking for in this practice is for players to understand when they have the space to shoot at a goal. I coach my players that you only need half a yard of space to get a shot away, but what is important is that they understand what that means. Are they able to fake a direction to move the ball the opposite direction to get a shot away? If they are not, then they should not attempt the shot and maintain possession.

One thing that will happen when you ‘open a goal’ is the players will become ‘panicked’ to create an opportunity, what you need to address is for your players to keep their composure and make good decisions to either maintain possession or shoot when a shooting opportunity occurs but not before.

When players are creating shooting opportunities for themselves consistently, move on to creating opportunities for their teammates. Now only allow players to shoot first time and from a set. This means that there needs to be a player near the goal, with their back to it and a player in a deeper position. As the ball comes in to the ‘striker’ (player nearest the goal shooting on) they should look to see if there is open space for someone to use and shoot from, if at all. If there is they need to turn their body and set with the back foot into this space. The player below them can then run on to the ball and strike with the laces first time. At the angle the ball arrives and they are running at in the picture below, they would strike the ball with their right foot. Make sure if the player strikes the ball on the correct foot depending on these criteria, as a lot of players will move so they can strike it with their favored foot, even if that means being off balance or in an awkward position when they striker the ball. Give players the confidence to shoot with their weaker foot so it doesn’t become a ‘weakness’ anymore.

Possession to Finish 2 (3)

Coaching Points

  • Composure in maintaining possession until a shooting opportunity arises
  • Understanding when, where and how to create a shooting opportunity
  • Using the correct techniques and feet when shooting for the best outcome


  • Increase the distance to the goals
  • Increase the size of the area and add more players

Allow the neutrals to enter the field, off the line, to shoot

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

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