Soccer Tips for Holding onto Possession as a Youth Team

To score you have to have the ball first! - (Photo:

Whether your team is holding onto a slim one-goal lead in the dying moments of a league match, or whether you are simply trying to slow down your opponent’s momentum, holding possession as a team is extremely vital for maintaining control of a soccer game and going for a win.  Although the concept may be too difficult and require too much patience for very young aged youth players, there is no reason why any soccer team with kids over the age of ten cannot learn how to keep possession and dominate a game.  Here are some tips that will help your team hold onto the soccer ball.

Players off the ball need to run into space.  This helps with a few key things.  First off, this presents options for the player with the ball to pass to. When a left midfielder is stranded out by the sideline, the left fullback should come from behind for support. The left forward should make a diagonal forward run, and the central midfielder should come from the side.  This presents three options for the ball-holder, and if he gets a good look around, he should be able to find one.  This requires your team to be very dedicated and eager to help each other out.  Teach them how to find space and evade defenders so that the ball carrier always has an open option.

Another thing that running into open space does is expand the game.  This is very helpful in keeping possession of the ball.  When the players are spread out over the majority of the field, there is more ground to cover and defend for the opponent, and it makes their lives more difficult.  An important factor with instilling this belief in your team is their ability to make long-range passes accurately and effectively.  Therefore, be sure to practice long kicks and passes with your team so that they can efficiently direct the ball all over the field.

Another tip to remember in keeping possession is to not be too afraid to pass backwards.  Yes, passing backwards is literally going in the opposite direction as the goal, but if it is a better option than forcing a desperate pass ahead, then go for it.  Passing backwards allows you to frustrate your opponent and also will set the stage for the next attack.

When passing backwards, be careful though.  An opposing forward can easily latch upon a weak back-pass and this can result in a goal.  Obviously, back-passes are safer in an opponent’s side of the field, but there is nothing wrong with passing back to an open defender when under pressure or even sending the ball back to your goalie.

A good team to watch maintain possession is Barcelona.  They have a whole crop of the world’s best players in Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, and Fabregas, and they know how to work the ball around a soccer field.  They usually have %70 of the possession in their games, and they use these tips in the most impressive fashion.

The object of soccer is to score goals though, so make sure that simply holding onto possession doesn’t become the solitary plan of your soccer team.  You will need to be direct in your approach as well.  However, if your team can maintain a superior possession throughout a game, you are well on your way to controlling and winning that soccer game.


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