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Coach and players sit in a circle discussing tactics

Passing session: 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

This session helps players to: 

  • stay on the ball under pressure  
  • hide and manoeuvre the ball  
  • combine with teammates to play forward. 

Keep it or share it?

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. 

The aim is to help players recognise when to stay on the ball and when to pass. Both teams attack and defend a goal, but one side has more players – and overloads the other.  

Encourage the team with the most players to focus on passing the ball forward. This helps them figure out how to make the most of their advantage – and their space.  

Challenge the side with fewer players to stay on the ball for as long as possible. This helps them recognise that there are times when they need to be skilful on the ball to keep possession – especially under pressure. Examples include holding the ball up until support arrives or trying to drive through the defence on the break.  

If a team scores, award a point. If the ball goes out at the touchline, players should pass or dribble back onto the pitch. If the ball goes out beyond the goal, keepers get possession.  

Praise players when they hide and manoeuvre the ball to stay in possession or play a pass at the right time. 


If your players master this game – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. But remember, learning takes time. So don't alter your activity too quickly or too much.   
To help, try using the STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002). This is a great way to keep things fun, engaging and appropriate. 

If you use this session with your team, let us know how you get on by posting in the England Football Community.