Rehan Mirza on possession football with 7 v 4 drills

Possession football – Breakout 7 v 4

by Rehan Mirza (UEFA B License coach at Notts County FC Centre of Excellence in England)

Rehan Mirza

This game is an excellent way of getting your team to not only move and rotate, but to also retain possession in tight areas. By creating extra numbers (players) on the team in possession, the players will explore ways of using the space they have been provided. I have used this drill a few times at Notts County and also with various teams I have coached. Although it is an obvious possession drill, you can always add in other topics to the session where required.

The layout consists of a coned (orange/white) of square area measuring between 20×20 to 30×30 yards depending on the age group concerned. Inside the square, there will be a coned of (orange/white) smaller square measuring between 10×10 to 15×15 yards depending on the age group concerned. 11 players are required for this exercise, creating a 7 v 4 situation.


The objective of the game is to:

  • Enable players to make quick decisions
  • Players must move in order to find space and help retain possession
  • Have as fewer touches of the ball as possible


Inside the smaller square, there will be a 4 v 2 possession game (as shown below). At this stage, the 5 red players between the small and big square cannot get involved in the game. You can put in conditions where the blue team must make 8 passes in order to score a goal. The 2 red players also in the square must attempt to win the ball.

If the red players inside the small square (as shown below) win possession, then the game now becomes a 7 v 4 possession game in favour of the red team where the whole playing area is now in use. Again, you can introduce a condition where the red team must make a certain number of passes in order to score a goal.

At this stage of the game, the smaller square becomes irrelevant making players from both teams explore the playing area as a whole (notice below how players have made use of the playing area).

The aim for the blue team is to win possession back. Once possession has been regained (as shown below), they then have to get the ball back into the smaller square as quickly as possible without losing it. Upon doing so, only 2 reds can then join the smaller square.

We now have the same position as the start of the game where there is a now a 4 v 2 game being played within the smaller square (as shown below), surrounded by 5 reds between both square.


  • Players should be able to make quick decisions when their team is in possession of the ball.
  • Players should now understand the size of the pitch and use the space required when receiving a pass from a team-mate.
  • Players are aware of having as fewer touches on the ball as possible.

Some of the obvious concerns of a possession game like this is that the players may start creating cul-de-sacs whilst in possession of the ball. This would be the best opportunity for the coach to stop the game immediately, instruct the players to stand still and address where the problem is. This will enlighten the players to learn about the size of playing area they occupy as well as getting them to suggest idea’s (if they are a younger team) of what they could do to help the team find space and therefore keep possession.

If this game is used with a more older youth side/adult side, then you would hope to see more skill involved where players faint moves and have a good first touch (on the back foot) on the ball in order to set themselves up for the next pass.