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Passing Drills

This is an excerpt from Soccer Speed by Richard Bate & Ian Jeffreys.

The drills described in this section provide coaches with the seeds to develop appropriate practices for their players and, where necessary, to raise the challenges to even higher levels.

3v1 High-Intensity Possession


Developing quick, accurate passing skills


Set up an area that is 8 to 10 yards (or meters) square. Identify three attackers and three defenders, two of whom are waiting outside the practice area. One attacker starts with the ball.


  1. Play is started by one attacker passing to another before the defender becomes active.
  2. One defender presses the ball for a short period (about 10 seconds) of high-intensity defense.
  3. After 10 seconds, as the play continues, the original defender is replaced by the second defender, who applies high-intensity pressing until being replaced by the third defender with this sequence continuing.
  4. Attackers attempt to retain possession under the high-intensity defense for 30 seconds or more as indicated by the coach.

Coaching Points

  • Support the ball holder where his or her pass can reach the receiver's feet.
  • Upon receiving the ball, be aware of movements by the defender and support players.
  • Within two touches (or, if possible, one), release a pass to a teammate and provide support.
  • If using two touches, remember that first-touch quality is vital and should be used to make the pass easier and quicker to release if necessary.
  • Make quick decisions under pressure.
  • Assume quick and accurate support positions for one-touch play to succeed.
  • Release the pass accurately under pressure as needed with any surface of the foot.
  • First touch may be the pass or the controlling touch before the release of the next pass.



Passing with minimum touches


Set up a circle that is 40 to 50 yards (or meters) in diameter. Around the outside of the circle, position five players. Inside the circle, position two teams of two players each. One player on the outside of the circle starts with the ball.


  1. The player with the ball passes it to player 9 inside the circle.
  2. Upon receiving the ball, player 9 uses one touch and passes to player 10 inside the circle.
  3. To receive the pass from player 9, player 10 moves at speed and in various directions.
  4. Player 10 passes the ball to an outside player, who then returns it inside the circle to the first player on the second team. (The first pair inside the circle rests while the second group works.)
  5. Play continues as outlined in the preceding steps.

Coaching Points

  • Outside players should use various passes at various heights and speeds when delivering the ball to the inside players.
  • Player 1 should move at different speeds and in different directions before receiving the pass and should anticipate both the pass delivery and the support player's run.
  • The support player 10 should move in different directions in order to support player 9 and even move out of his sight occasionally to challenge his or her ability to find the support player with minimal touches.
  • Players inside the circle should work at speed to develop their ability to pass with various body and foot surfaces.

Passing Under Pressure


Passing and receiving the ball despite physical contact


Set up an area that is 25 yards (or meters) square. Form two teams of equal number (4v4, 5v5, or 6v6). In addition, position one target player on each sideline and one on each end line (for a total of four target players).


  1. Practice begins with one of the target players passing the ball in to a player on one of the two teams.
  2. The teams oppose each other on a man-to-man basis. Each tries to move the ball from end to end five times in a row.
  3. Target players on the end lines play with the team in possession and are free to move anywhere along or behind their line in order to provide support.
  4. Target players on the sidelines also help whichever team has possession and can provide support from anywhere along their line.

Coaching Points

  • Shake off your opponent using changes of speed and direction in order to receive the ball with more space and time.
  • When receiving the ball or in possession, protect the ball by screening it from the defender.
  • If possible, turn to face the defender and try to eliminate him or her by using dribbling skills or working in combination with other attackers (for instance, using a wall pass).
  • When not in possession of the ball, provide support for the pass.

Learn more about Soccer Speed.