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Keep it or share it?

    Former FA county coach developer, Sally Needham, sets up a 6v4 game to help players recognise when to stay on the ball or pass to a teammate.

    Key objectives

    Players will develop their understanding of:

    • staying on the ball under pressure
    • hiding and manoeuvring the ball
    • combining with teammates to play forward.

    Keep it or share it?


    Session plan

    Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan to your device and give it a go.


    Set up an area that’s appropriate for your players to take part in a small-sided game with an overload. In this instance, it’s a 6v4, but it can be adapted to your numbers. Place a goal at each end.

    How to play

    The aim of the game is to help players understand the situations where they might need to stay on the ball or when there’s a prime opportunity to pass.

    Both teams attack and defend a goal, but one has an overload over the other. Encourage the side with the most players to focus on passing the ball forward when they can. Challenge the side with fewer players to stay on the ball for as long as possible.

    By doing this, the underloaded team will start to recognise that there are times in games when they need to be skilful on the ball to keep possession under pressure. For instance, holding the ball up until support arrives or trying to drive through the defence on the break. While the overloaded team have the chance to figure out how they can make the most of their player advantage and the space afforded to them.

    If a team score, award a point. If the ball goes out of play over the touchline, encourage players to pass the ball or dribble it back onto the pitch. Goalkeepers get possession if the ball goes out beyond their goal.

    Be sure to notice players when they hide and manoeuvre the ball to stay in possession, as well as praising them for playing the pass at the right time.


    It’s important to think carefully about progressions. Learning doesn’t happen straight away, as players will be figuring everything out at first. Changing the game constantly can mean players miss the opportunity to learn. So, give them a chance to have a go and solve the problems they’re facing in this activity.

    If you notice that one or two players understand the game and are forging ahead, you could set them individual challenges. If everyone understands it, that might be the best time to add a progression.

    Whenever you decide to do that, think about using the STEP framework. However you adapt the session, make sure you keep it fun, highly engaging and appropriate for your players.


    Now you’ve watched this session, ask yourself the following questions:

    • How would you adapt or tweak the practice to make it appropriate to your own players?
    • What additional challenges could you set to make the practice easier or harder for individuals or your group?

    If you use this session with your team, let us know how you get on by posting in The FA Community forums.

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