Conditioned Matches - In Possession

  • Author: Ian Knapp
  • Age Group: U10 to U17+
  • Time: 1 - 2 Hours

These conditioned games introduce various aspects of attacking play and how we can use the space on the pitch to create goalscoring chances. They are all match-based, with plenty of “ball rolling” time, so your players should enjoy them. Some of them involve neutral players - be sure to rotate the players in those roles, especially if they are locked into certain areas as it keeps it interesting for your players (and on cold days ensures nobody is inactive).

Session Setup:
  • A small “6 a side” size pitch with a goal at each end, size of pitch and goals adapted to the age of your players.
  • Approximately 12 cones of a one colour and 12 of another colour, ready to be added part way through the session.
  • Enough bibs for two even teams,
  • Footballs at the side of the pitch with the coach and 3 or 4 in each goal.
  • If you have flat cones, you can set all the cones up at the start of the session to save time later on.

Fig. 1 - the final pitch setup will look something like this once we’re into the last conditioned game. If you have flat cones, then you can set this up before you start.


Using this pitch setup, there are multiple games you can play to cover different aspects of your team's attacking play when in possession. Note that none of these games are intended to be 100% realistic - they are about getting your players thinking about what happens when they play a certain way - the WHY, WHEN and HOW of using thee full width and depth of the pitch to keep possession and create goalscoring chances.

Game 1 - Using "bounce" players in high positions to counter attack quickly

This game is great for encouraging your players to use the full length of the pitch and to focus on quick counter attacks, playing early to attacking players left high up the pitch. Movement off the ball, accuracy and weight of pass, finishing and communication are all key aspects to this game...

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Game 2 - Using wide players to utilise the full width of the pitch

This game encourages your players to look to get the ball wide and use the width of the pitch to create space when they have the ball. It helps your players gain an awareness of where the space is on the pitch and how and when to use it to either create a goalscoring chance or keep possession... 

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Game 3 - Using deep players and playing through the goalkeeper

The final game in this series introduces the concept of going backwards to go forwards. By playing back to the goalkeeper, your players can draw the other team out, creating space and dragging them out of position...

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If you run any of these games individually or all three back to back in a session, it is often helpful to end by removing the restrictions and allowing a certain amount of free play. See if the players are starting to use the width and length / depth of the pitch even without the restrictions in place. Cones can either be removed or left in as a guide to players. Your call.