7 Best Soccer Possession Drills: Mastering the Ball from U9 to High School



7 Best Soccer Possession Drills: Mastering the Ball from U9 to High School

Possession plays a vital role in soccer, especially in terms of the pace and control of the game. Effective soccer possession drills are essential for developing a player’s ability to hold onto the ball and make intelligent decisions. This guide highlights seven of the best soccer possession drills tailored for players progressing from U9 to high school, ensuring foundational skills are built and used at every level.

Fundamentals of Soccer Possession

Possession in soccer refers to a team’s ability to maintain control of the ball during a match. The key skills include ball handling, spatial awareness, and quick decision-making under pressure. By mastering these, players can significantly enhance their gameplay and contribute to the team’s overall strategy.

Drills for Young Beginners (U9-U12)

As young athletes begin their soccer journey, it’s crucial to introduce possession drills that are age-appropriate and focused on foundational skills. For U9 to U12 players, such drills should blend fun with skill development, paving the way for more complex techniques as they mature. These early years are critical for developing a solid understanding of ball control and team dynamics. Drills tailored for each age group, such as possession soccer drills for U9, U11, and U12, ensure that young players learn effective ball handling and teamwork strategies. This approach helps in gradually building their confidence and capabilities on the field.

Basic Ball Control Drills (U9)

For U9 players, possession soccer drills focus on fun and basic skills. Simple activities like “Follow the Leader” help young players develop comfort with the ball at their feet, promoting confidence and enjoyment early on

Developing Teamwork and Awareness (U11-U12)

As players grow, so does the complexity of the drills. For U11 and U12, drills that encourage passing and moving without the ball become crucial. Exercises like “Pass and Move Circles” and “Triangle Keep Away” are great for soccer U11 and U12 teams and can be used to foster teamwork and positional awareness.

Enhancing Tactical Understanding (U13-U14)

As young soccer players progress to the U13 and U14 age groups, their training begins to focus more heavily on enhancing tactical understanding and execution. It’s crucial at this stage to introduce intermediate possession drills that challenge their mental and physical abilities. The drills designed for soccer U14 and U13 players aim to sharpen their decision-making and improve their ability to read the game. This is an appropriate age where the fundamentals of team play and strategic positioning are solidified, setting the stage for more advanced play in competitive environments. The emphasis is on drills that promote quick thinking, adaptability, and effective communication on the field, ensuring that each player can contribute to maintaining possession and controlling the pace of the game.

Intermediate Possession Drills (U13-U14)

Players at the U13 and U14 levels are ready for intermediate drills that challenge their tactical knowledge and execution. Drills such as “Four Corners Passing” and “Dynamic Grid Possession” help in developing these skills, making soccer U13 and U14 sessions more impactful.

Preparing for Competitive Play (U15-U16)

As players enter the U15 and U16 levels, preparing for competitive play becomes important. At this stage, soccer drills need to demonstrate the intensity and pressure of actual matches. Advanced possession drills are crucial for these age groups to refine their skills under stress and improve their overall game performance. These drills, including various soccer drills for U15 and specialized drills for U16 teams, are designed to push players to their limits, enhancing their ability to maintain composure, make rapid decisions, and work cohesively as a team. This period is critical for developing the resilience and tactical sophistication needed to succeed in high-stakes environments.

Advanced Team-Based Drills (U15-U16)

Competitive youth soccer demands advanced drills that mimic the high pressure of real matches. For U15 and U16, drills like “Pressure Cooker” and “Rapid Fire Rotations” provide intense scenarios that improve quick thinking and teamwork, essential elements in possession soccer drills for U15 and U16 teams.

Transition to High School Soccer (U17-U18)

The leap to high school soccer represents a significant milestone in a young athlete’s career, where the game intensifies both physically and tactically. At the U17 and U18 levels, players are expected to handle more complex and dynamic challenges on the field. The focus on soccer drills for high school aims to prepare these young athletes for the rigor of high school competitions. Drills designed for this age bracket, such as advanced possession training drills and high-intensity tactical games, are crucial for developing the endurance, speed, and strategic thinking required to excel. This stage is about using their ability to dominate possession, ensuring they can effectively implement their skills in high-pressure game situations.

High-Intensity Possession Challenges (U17-U18)

Transitioning to high school, soccer U17 and U18 players must adapt to faster, more physical play. High-intensity drills like “Tight Space Maneuvers” and “Endurance Possession Games” prepare players for the challenges of high school competitions, integrating physical fitness with tactical prowess.

Specialized Possession Drills for High School Teams

High school often need specialized drills that cater to the varied skill levels of their players. Tailored drills, such as “Strategic Possession Play” and “Advanced Positional Games,” help refine the techniques suited for older players, focusing on both individual and team performance.

Evaluating Progress and Adjusting Drills

It’s important for coaches to continuously assess the effectiveness of their training sessions. Regularly checking player progress with drills and adapting them to meet the evolving needs of the team ensures that players are always developing at the best pace possible. Techniques like small-sided games and possession challenges are excellent for evaluating skills in a dynamic setting.


Incorporating these drills into regular training sessions will build strong, versatile players who can confidently control the game. From young beginners learning the basics to high school athletes mastering complex tactics, each drill is designed to challenge and improve players at every stage of their development. Coaches are encouraged to adapt these drills to best suit their team’s needs, ensuring every player can achieve their potential on the soccer field.


How can I improve my soccer ball possession?

Improve your soccer possession skills by practicing specific drills designed to enhance ball handling, spatial awareness, and decision-making under pressure. Regularly participating in activities like “Four Corners Passing” and “Dynamic Grid Possession” can significantly boost your ability to maintain control of the ball.

What are possession drills in soccer?

Possession drills in soccer are training exercises focused on helping players maintain control of the ball, enhance their spatial awareness, and make quick decisions during a game. These drills vary from simple ball control exercises for beginners to advanced tactical games for more experienced players.

How can a 13-year-old get better at soccer?

A 13-year-old can improve at soccer by engaging in intermediate-level drills that challenge both their mental and physical skills, such as “Triangle Keep Away” and “Pass and Move Circles.” These activities help enhance tactical understanding and team coordination.

How do you coach a soccer possession?

Coaching soccer possession involves teaching players how to control the ball effectively through various drills and games that emphasize teamwork, quick thinking, and strategic movement. Tailoring training sessions to the players’ skill levels and regularly assessing their progress are key strategies.

How can I help my 9-year-old get better at soccer?

To help a 9-year-old improve at soccer, focus on fun and basic possession drills like “Follow the Leader,” which builds comfort and confidence with the ball. Gradually introduce them to more structured team-based exercises as they develop their skills.

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