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How to coach and play a possession-based football style at the Indian grassroots level

kids play possession-based football

A certain Pep Guardiola introduced or made popular a possession-based football style - Tiki Taka to the world of football. Since then, many teams have employed this philosophy that revolves around controlling the game through extensive ball possession.

Can Indian kids play possession-based football?

Absolutely, Indian kids can certainly play possession-based football at a young age. In fact, introducing possession-based principles and techniques to young players can have numerous benefits for their overall development as footballers.

At a young age, children are like sponges, eagerly absorbing new information and learning experiences. This makes it an ideal time to introduce them to the fundamentals of possession-based football.

The biggest question is how do we achieve this?

The one and only Rule: Maintaining possession is a team effort. It's essential to work together with your teammates, communicate effectively, and understand each other's playing style.

kids play possession-based football

Alright, we understood the rule. How do we achieve this?

There are 8 aspects you need to develop or coach your team to develop them to hold the ball for long periods.

1) Passing Accuracy: Good passing is crucial for ball retention. Work on improving your passing technique, including both short and long passes. Focus on accuracy, weight, and timing of your passes to ensure they reach your teammates successfully.

For Coaches: Turn passing drills into exciting games. Play upbeat music during passing drills and set a time limit for players to complete a certain number of passes or a passing sequence. Challenge them to complete as many passes as possible within the given time, making it fast-paced and energetic.

2) Support and Movement: Constantly provide passing options for your teammates by offering yourself as a passing target. Move into open spaces, create passing angles, and make yourself available for a pass. This allows the team to maintain possession by having multiple passing options available.

For Coaches: Tag with a Twist: Set up a small playing area and designate two or three players as taggers. The remaining players need to move around the area while maintaining support and movement. If a player gets tagged, they switch roles with the tagger. This game encourages players to constantly provide passing options and move dynamically to avoid getting tagged.

3) First Touch Control: Develop a soft and controlled first touch to receive the ball under pressure. A good first touch sets you up for a successful pass or dribble, enabling you to keep possession of the ball and avoid turnovers.

For Coaches: "Cone Chaos" is a fun drill where players work in pairs. They pass the ball to each other, aiming for challenging first touches, and then try to dribble and touch as many randomly placed cones within a grid as possible. This drill improves first-touch control, agility, and decision-making skills in a dynamic and enjoyable way.

4) Awareness and Vision: Maintain awareness of your surroundings. Scan the field to identify available passing options, both ahead and behind you. Anticipate the movement of your teammates and the positioning of opponents to make better decisions on when and where to pass.

For Coaches: "Visionary Passers" is a fun drill where players work in pairs. They pass the ball back and forth, but before making a pass, the passer must call out a specific target. The receiving player must quickly identify the target and adjust their positioning to receive the pass accurately. This drill enhances players' awareness, vision, and decision-making abilities in an engaging and interactive way.


5) Ball Protection: Shielding the ball is essential when opponents are closing in. Use your body to protect the ball, keeping it away from the reach of opponents. Keep a low centre of gravity, use your arms for balance, and position your body between the opponent and the ball.

For Coaches: "Protect the Treasure" is a fun drill where players work in pairs. One player acts as the defender, while the other is the attacker. The attacker's goal is to dribble the ball past the defender to the other end of the playing area while protecting the ball from being stolen. This drill enhances ball protection skills and encourages players to use their bodies effectively to shield the ball from opponents.

6) Patience and Composure: Avoid rushing decisions when under pressure. Maintain composure and stay patient, even when facing tight marking or aggressive opponents. Look for safer passing options rather than attempting risky plays that could result in turnovers.

For Coaches: "The Passing Puzzle" is a fun drill where players work in pairs. They aim to complete a designated number of consecutive passes without the ball touching any cones placed in a random pattern within a grid. This drill develops patience, composure, and accurate passing skills while adding a competitive element to keep players engaged.

7) Communication: Effective communication with teammates is vital for maintaining possession. Use verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate your intention to receive a pass, request support, or signal a teammate to hold onto the ball. Clear communication helps maintain cohesion and coordination within the team.

For Coaches: One fun drill for improving communication in football is "Nickname Verbal Tag." Players form a small circle and pass the ball while continuously calling out the nickname of the intended recipient. The goal is to maintain accurate passing and enhance communication skills through clear and timely verbal cues.

8) Movement Off the Ball: Constant movement by teammates of the ball is crucial to provide passing options and create space. Make intelligent runs into open areas, offer yourself as a passing target, and create passing triangles to facilitate ball circulation.

For Coaches: One fun drill for improving off-the-ball movement in football is "Target Tag." Players form pairs, and one player is designated as the target. The target player moves around while the other player tries to pass the ball and hit the target player with the pass, encouraging off-the-ball movement and creating passing opportunities.

Embrace the eight pillars of possession. Train relentlessly. Remember, greatness is built within the last 15 days. Elevate your game, unlock your potential, and dominate the pitch. Strive, grow, and conquer!

For Coaches

Remember to create a positive and supportive atmosphere, provide feedback and encouragement, and adjust the difficulty level of the drills to match the players' age and skill level. By making drills fun, you can enhance the players' enjoyment of the game and help them develop their passing skills effectively.

About the author

Abiram Lokanath leads marketing for one of the Big 4s. He is the Co-founder of a Not-For-Profit football club - BTM FC, who are plying their trade in the “A” division in the KSFA league. He was also the founder of TAL (The Amateur League). He loves trekking the Himalayas and going on long solo rides on his bicycle. While not doing any of these things, he likes to contribute his thoughts and opinions on sports here.

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