An 8 v. 3 or 9 v. 4 game of keep-away hardly seems fair in soccer, but it just may be the best way to teach youth soccer players how to play with consistent possession. Although the term “kick and run” rolls off the tongue, it’s not so sweet on a soccer pitch, and with beginner and intermediate youth soccer, it’s too often the case.
Young players need to build confidence with trapping, dribbling and passing before they can play with consistent possession against an opponent’s pressure. Attempting even-sided possession certainly won’t promote this sort of confidence. 3 v. 3 or 4 v. 4 makes sense when teaching attacking – but with possession it’s actually very difficult. Youth soccer players struggle to gain confidence if they continually give the ball away under the pressure of even-sided games. To create more confidence give players more time.
A Better Solution
A helpful recommendation is the use of drills in which the offensive players who are trying to keep possession of the ball outnumber the defensive players. The drill is played in roughly a 40-x-40 yard or 40-x-50 yard grid, and the sides came be different combinations, like 8 v. 3, 10 v. 3, 9 v. 4, etc. The offensive players will develop touch and passing skills against the defensive chasers and the grid forces players to think as it’s a reduced, limited space.
As players develop their soccer skills and get older, adding limitations will allow for growth and further confidence. Here are three examples:
- Instead of free touch, the offensive players can use only two or three touches.
- The player on the ball cannot dribble.
- Add defensive players to increase pressure.
When the coach makes the sides even for practice games, the players will be seen controlling the ball with possession.