Passing activities don’t have to be boring with players standing in long lines!! Passing activities must put players in realistic game-like positions + scenarios to ensure greater carry-over to match play.
The following are a selection of activities to give you an understanding of the huge variety of options available – some are simple unopposed activities to give players an understanding of certain movements, and some are high-pressure situations with opponents.
In order to have the greatest carry-over and learning effect it is important to include opponents as often as possible; this helps to fine-tune the ‘decision-making’ component involved in passing options.
You are only limited by your creativity! Good luck and ‘Pass Like the Pros!’
Squad is split into 2 groups and positioned at 6 cones as shown. 2-3 Players are positioned at the perimeter cones (A,E,F,C); Central players at positions B + D (Red).
Passing Rotation with Central Interplay:
Sequence: Play begins with a pass from Player A to B; B to C; C to D; D layoff short to B; B pass into the path of A; A switch the ball diagonally to Player F to repeat the sequence in the opposite direction.
One-touch passing should be used if possible.
Emphasis on the Inter-Play between the central players – angles / timing / direction / speed of movements.
4x2min: change Central Players each 2 minutes.
- Central Players: Distances / Angles to receive passes and support teammates
- Inter-play between central D + B – game realistic; check to, check away, spin underneath to receive passes
- All players should use checking / opposite movements before moving to receive passes
- Timing of forward run by Player A – delay and arrive late
- Quality execution of passes
Squad is split into groups of 8 and positioned as shown. Grid is approximately 15-20m. 3 Players positioned Centrally (B,C,D).
PASSING – Central Combinations:
Ball starts at Player (A) – pass to central (B); (B) lays back to (A): Player (A) to deepest player (C); (C) layoff to (D) – (D) now passes to corner player (E). Next ball starts at position (F) to repeat the sequence of central combinations with the 3 players.
Change central players after each 2 min block.
- Timing / angles of support – body position to receive and pass is vital
- Short / sharp accurate passes at all times
- Increase rhythm / tempo as activity progresses
Players are organised into groups of 7-8 (Only one group illustrated in diagram: 2 groups set up to accommodate 16 players) Two players are designated as ‘defenders’ (Black). High cones are used to create goals as shown.
Passing / Possession with Counter-Pressing:
Warmup Activity to introduce the concept of ‘Counter-Pressing’. A 6v2 takes place within the central grid; The 2 Defenders attempt to win possession of the ball – if they win possession they must attempt to score immediately through any of the goals (high cones).
On losing possession the Red team is instructed to immediately counter-press against the 2 Defenders to win back possession as soon as possible. Rotate Defenders on each loss of possession.
- Emphasis on Counter-Pressing; react immediately on the loss of possession + immediately close on the opponent to regain possession
- Develop the habit / quick thinking ‘Press’
Squad is split into groups of 8-10 players. Grid size is 15-20×15-20.
Combination Play of Central Players:
Option (B): Central Players (Green) simulate the Strikers (#9 + #10): passing sequence demands that the central pair work in unison to create passing options and support. Players follow the numbered passing pattern shown. Ball starts at Position (A) – the player passes the ball into the #9 and #10 in the middle of the area who bounce the ball back (pass 2). Pass 3 is played forward to the deeper Striker; supporting Striker drops underneath to receive the layoff (Pass 4) – the supporting player now plays a reverse pass (Pass 5) into the path of the player moving from position (A). Pass 6 returns to the corner player who switches it across to the opposite position (A) with Pass 8.
Sequence is then repeated in the opposite direction.
Change the central players every 1-2min.
- All – Focus on quality (pace/direction) of the pass
- All – Check away to create space for the next pass
- All – Play a pass that can be played on 1-touch
- #9/#10 take up a position so they can see as many team-mates as possible = awareness of team-mates positioning at all times
- Players from position (A); timing of movement – wait and then accelerate onto the ball
Players are organised into groups of 6 as shown. Two Players (D) are designated as Defenders with starting positions on the 18-yard line.
Emphasis on Final Pass Forward into Space with 1v1 to Goal:
Player (1) passes to central Player (2) and receives a short layoff; Player (3) moves to receive a pass from Player (1); Player (3) lays the ball back for supporting Player (2); Player (3) now continues to run inside to open the passing lane / space for Player (4) to run onto the through-ball.
Player (4) now receives the ball and must attack the Defender (D).
Play is continuous: alternate right/left sides of pitch.
- Moment / Direction of movements to receive passes
- Timing / Execution of passing – emphasis on final pass into space
- Moment / Direction of Player (4) moving into space – ‘delay’ the run to run forward onto the ball
- Be ‘direct’ – go at pace at Defender
Two groups of 3; Playing area divided into 3 zones – (1), (2) and Central. Central Area has 4 mannequins / sticks to represent Opponents.
BALL CIRCULATION – Finding Space Between Opponents:
Players pass + move in their designated area; after 6-8 passes they must look to pass to a player arriving into the Central Area / Behind the Opponent line. Player receiving ball must half-turned in order to turn quickly and continue passing to his teammates in the opposite end-zone.
Play is continuous.
- Find the space ‘between the lines’ of opponent
- Recognise the moment to move to the central zone – arrive + move in the zone while constantly looking over shoulder to scan playing area
- Recognise the moment to pass to the central player: passing players must also keep eyes ‘up’ to scan the playing area
Players are organised into groups of 7/8. 5 Mannequins and mini goals / sticks are utilised.
WARMUP / PASSING: Emphasis on Moving Away from Opponents to Receive
Sequence starts with Player (A) dribbling forward; Player (B) must move into the space off the shoulder of his opponent (Mannequin) to receive in a half-turned position. Immediately Player (B) is facing forward; Player (C) now pulls away from his opponent to receive. Player (C) receives and accelerates into space with the ball; Player (D) now pulls away from his opponent to receive a pass. Player (D) now dribbles at the Mannequin / feints to beat the mannequin and completes the sequence with pass into the mini-goal.
Play is continuous; gradually increase temp/speed as warmup progresses
- Player (B): to replicate ‘Moving Between Lines’ to receive
- Player (C): replicates pulling off the shoulder of opponent to receive in space
- Player (D) replicates moving into space to receive in front of opponent.
- In all situations: Emphasis on Moment, Direction, Speed of movements to receive
Players organised in groups of 4 as shown. (A) + (B) work as a pair at each end of the grid.
PASSING COMBINATIONS – Working in Pairs:
Phase 1: Player (A) passes to (B) who lays back to (A) who plays long to opposite (A).
Progression 1: Wall Pass combination – (A) passes to (B) who lays a leading ball to (A) who then plays to opposite (A).
Progression 2: Overlap combination – (A) passes to (B) who takes an aggressive touch inside, (A) overlaps (B) who then slips a ball forward to (A) for a pass to opposite (A).
Each combination 2 minutes approx.
- Pace of pass
- Play the proper foot or space
- Movement/timing off the ball
- Taking “looks”
- Deception and fakes – disguise passes
Squad split into groups of 3 or 4 Players (4 Players shown in Diagram). Two groups of 4 (8 players) positioned in playing area: playing area consists of 2 end-grids and central zone (shaded area in diagram).
PASSING ACTIVITY – Moving to Receive in Space / Playing Forward:
The 4 Players circulate / pass the ball within their grid – after 5-6 passes one player must move into the central zone to receive a vertical ‘penetrating’ pass; the player must receive on the half-turn and immediately pass to the 4 players in the opposite grid.
Play is continuous.
Progression: Allow one player from other grid enter central area to offer passive defensive pressure.
- Moment / timing of pass to player moving into space
- Communication + Decision-Making – when does the opportunity arise to play forward?
- Angles to receive: receiving on the half-turn in order to quickly face forward and play the next pass
Playing area divided into 4 zones. Four Defenders (Red) start at central yellow cones. 2 Balls utilised at same time.
Pressing / Avoiding the Press:
Play begins with 2 of the Defenders entering the gris to apply pressure – this creates a 3v1 situation. Defender must work on elements of pressing to attempt to regain possession; the players in possession must attempt to avoid the press + keep the ball through quick ball circulation and movement (2-touch max).
After minimum of 5 passes the players can pass the ball into the opposite grids – NOTE: the 2 balls must always be in diagonal grids (shaded / un-shaded in diagram).
This is the cue for the next 2 Defenders to enter and press!
*Rotate Defenders after 2-3 min.
- Individual elements of Pressing – speed of approach, direction of approach, intercepting, tackling
- Possession group:
- Quick ball circulation / passing
- Angles of support
- Communication – verbal + non-verbal
Squad is divided into 2 groups and positioned as shown; One Defender (Red) is assigned to each group.
Finding the Advanced Player – Direct to Goal:
Play starts with a pass to (A) pulling off the shoulder of the Defender (mannequin); Player (B) must support underneath to receive the pass back from (A). Players (C) and (D) now split away from the Defender – Player (B) must choose to pass to Player (D) or Player (C); Player (A) moves to support to receive the layoff – from this point all 3 players attack the Defender (Red): this creates a 3v1 to goal.
Play is continuous.
- Moment (timing) of movements to create passing angles
- Be direct – go to goal: engage the Defender immediately!
- Direction and distance of support; be aware of off-side
- Speed / Weight of passes in front
Two grids end-to-end with a 3-4yd central zone (shaded in diagram).
PASSING / POSSESSION: Defensive Organisation – When to ‘Press’, When to ‘Cover’?
Two groups of 5 Players (Red + Black) are positioned in the grids; 3 Defensive Players (Yellow) start in the central zone. Play begins with 2 Defenders entering the grid to gain possession of the ball or force errors. The Black + Red teams attempt to maintain possession and switch the ball from grid to grid. *The 3rd Defender must make a choice – (1) Enter the area to create a 5v3 situation or (2) Stay in the central zone to close passing channels.
On any loss of possession or error the player responsible becomes a Defender.
Play is continuous.
*Activity can be modified to 6 Players in each grid vs. the 3 Defenders – this accommodates 15 players.
- Pressing direction / angles, timing to make opponent predictable.
- Communication amongst teammates is vital
- 3rd Defender: right moment to step into grid to win ball or awareness to cut-out penetrating pass?
- Possession Teams:
- Look to quickly switch grids – ‘Play Forward’ early