TEN PRINCIPLES OF POSSESSION


I did not write this, but its sound advice for any pig-headed player screwing up the local pick up with crappy play.

PRINCIPLE 1: TEAM SHAPE
Every time your team has the ball, you must spread out to make the field as big as possible. This is done by player 9 pushing up as high as possible, wingers 7 and 11 getting out as high and wide as possible, the back line dropping back and the midfielders spreading into the space in the middle.

PRINCIPLE 2: PEEL OFF AND OPEN BODY TO THE FIELD
All the players ahead of the ball should peel off their opponent and open their body so they can receive the ball facing up field. Players should avoid receiving the ball with back to goal if there is pressure on them. Move away from pressure and open body to at least a sideways-on posture.

PRINCIPLE 3: BENDING RUNS
Whenever you make a forward run on the flanks, bend your run towards the outside to create width and separate yourself from your opponent. Whenever you make a forward run in the middle of the field, bend your run to give the passer enough time to judge the pass, to open up a passing lane for a through ball, and to avoid running into off-side.

PRINCIPLE 4: RUNS TRIGGER RUNS – AWARENESS OF SURROUNDING
Players need to look around them all the time to see where their teammates and opponents are. This will help players make the correct runs and will avoid players duplicating runs or running into the same area. For example, if you are an attacking midfielder and you see that your center forward is making a checking run towards the ball, you might decide to run into the space created by him/her and run onto a through ball behind the other team’s defense. Another example is when a winger runs inside to make room for the fullback to overlap. Runs trigger other runs but for that to happen you must be constantly looking around you to assess your position in relation to your teammates’ positions.

PRINCIPLE 5: DIAGONAL PASSES
Diagonal passes are better than vertical passes. Diagonal pass allows the receiver to open his/her body and receive the pass facing up field. A diagonal pass accomplishes both penetration and switching all in one pass. A vertical pass is played into a player who is likely to be facing his/her own goal and have limited vision. If he/she is marked, a vertical pass is difficult to control. Avoid vertical passes and look for the diagonal ball as often as possible.

PRINCIPLE 6: EVERY BACK PASS IS FOLLOWED BY A SWITCH
When a player makes a back pass, he/she is likely doing it because he/she does not see an option to play forward. It usually means that the area in front of the ball is too congested or your team is outnumbered in this area. For this reason, it is usually best to switch the ball into another area of the field. Another reason for a switch following a back pass is to sustain a rhythm of possession and increase the speed of play.
Of course, there are exceptions to this principle. For example, if the back pass is part of a combination play like a wall pass or a back-through passing sequence to penetrate, it is of course ok.

PRINCIPLE 7: THE BALL DOESN’T STAY IN AN AREA FOR LONG
To maintain possession and not allow the other team to press and win the ball, we have to circulate the ball and move it constantly around the field. This makes us less predictable and it makes it harder for the other team to pin us down and press us with lots of players. As a rule of thumb, after a couple of short passes in one area, the next pass should be played out of the area.

PRINCIPLE 8: KEEPERS DISTRIBUTE BALLS, AVOID THE LONG PUNT
Since the emphasis in ODP is to play out of the back, it is important for the keeper and the back line to become comfortable at playing out of the back. When the keeper catches a cross or a shot, the team should spread out quickly so the keeper can throw the ball to a free player. On goal kicks, the keeper should look to play the ball to feet rather than send everyone up and take a long high kick.

PRINCIPLE 9: USE THROW-INS TO SWITCH THE POINT OF ATTACK
Use the throw in to switch the point of attack since the opposing team has most of their players squeezed into the area near the throw-in. This means that there is lots of space on the other side of the field. Avoid throwing the ball down the line into a crowd since it usually results in loss of possession.

PRINCIPLE 10: SPEED OF PLAY
You have to learn to play quickly and keep the ball moving. This requires a lot of one touch and two touch play. This results in a high tempo of possession and makes it difficult for the opponents to keep up with the play. There are some moments when dribbling is appropriate, but for the majority of the time, quick one touch or two touch passing is the best way. If you watch high level soccer on TV, you will see how quickly the ball is passed from one player to the next, with a minimum of fuss and with quick and pacey ball movement. KEEP THE BALL MOVING!!!!

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