This is our third post in the Possession Series here. We are picking up after our Shielding the Ball exercises and still focusing on the individual technical skills that will help enable our possession style of soccer when we move into teaming situations.

In this case we want players thinking about their next move as they receive the pass. They must have some very basic tools to receive the ball under pressure because oftentimes they will need to hold onto the ball before their next passing opportunity appears.

These activities build on the Shielding the Ball progression so you’ll want to start with the same 10×10 grid.

Activity – Cage Match – Ball In

You’ll have 3 players per 10×10 square, one is the server, the other is the receiver, and the other is the defender. The receiver and defender start on the opposite side of the square from the server. The receiver is nearer to the server with the defender right on their back. The server plays a pass to the receiver and the receivers job is to gain control of the ball and shield the ball for 5 seconds. After ten passes in a row, have all three rotate roles.

Coaching questions:

  • How can you trap the ball creating the maximum amount of distance between the ball and the opponent? The receiver should be turned sideways, stopping the ball with the foot away from the opponent and leaning towards the opponent ready for the challenge


Same activity but have them control the ball with their non-dominant foot for ten passes each.


Instead of standing on the corners, have them stand on the side of the squares. The server will put the ball into the square at a random locations, sometimes right to, sometimes to left side, sometimes right. The receiver will have to make a quick decision about which foot with which to receive the ball. Receiver still shields for five seconds. Play until they’ve made sufficient progress.

Coaching questions:

  • What happens if you don’t move towards the pass? Defender beats you to the ball
  • Do you have to wait until you receive the ball to shield? No, put yourself between the opponent and the closest point in the balls trajectory where you plan to retrieve it
  • If the ball heads towards the left touchline, which foot do you receive with? The left (leaning right, against defender), so you’re facing the open field instead of the touchline, setting yourself up to be able to look for support

This session leads nicely into the fourth: Escaping Pressure