Best soccer passing drills

Best Soccer Passing Drills for Your Soccer Team

Passing in soccer is one of, if not the, most fundamental of skills. Passing is one of the first soccer skills a child learns. And it’s a skill still practiced everyday by the very best soccer players in the world. Great passing teams are a joy to watch, and possession can wear your opponents down and open up chances to score. So, in this article, we’re going to provide the best soccer passing drills you can use to improve the passing skills of your soccer team.

Why should you use soccer passing drills?

Passing is one of the most fundamental skills in soccer. Every player on a soccer team should have the skills and ability to pass a soccer ball to a teammate. No matter what position you play, from goalkeeper to striker, you need to be able to pass a ball accurately.

Keeping possession of a soccer ball can help to pull the opposition out of place, creating space for your teammates to exploit. It can also help to tire opponents out, as well as give your team a huge amount of confidence.

As a coach, soccer passing drills should for a fundamental part of your arsenal.

When should you use soccer passing drills

Soccer passing drills should be used regularly. Even the world’s best soccer players still practice passing every single training session. So we would advise that coaches should have their teams practice passing at every single practice session.

Passing drills are usually best placed early on in your soccer practice, when players are still fresh and will enjoy getting more touches of the ball.

These drills can also be used before a match to help warm up your players and get them into the practice of passing and moving.

Soccer passing drills

2-Lines Passing Drill

This simple soccer passing drill can be used early in a soccer practice, or before a match. It includes simple pass and move instructions, and gets players used to staying mobile after making a pass.

Equipment needed:

  • 1 soccer ball
  • 2 cones or markers
  • Approx 20 yards of space

2-lines passing drill set-up:

  • Split the players into 2 evenly sized groups
  • Create 2 lines of players, facing each other
  • Approx 10-15 yards apart
  • Place the soccer ball at the feet of player 1 at the front
2-lines passing drill: set-up

2-lines drill execution:

  • The first player (1a) passes the ball across the ground to the player at the front of the opposite line
  • This player (1a) then runs to the back of the opposite line
  • Effectively following their pass
  • The player at the front of the opposite line (2a), who receives the ball, then passes the ball back to the new player at the front of the first line (1b)
  • Player 2a then does the same run, to the back of the opposite line
2-lines passing drill: execution

2-lines coaching tips:

  • Players can take a touch or two to control the ball before passing
  • The aim is for a slick, accurate, pass, not to make the drill progress fast
  • Remind players to use the inside of their foot
  • Tell players to kick through the ball

2-lines progressions & variations:

  • Ask players to use their weaker foot
  • Increase the distance between the 2 lines
  • Ask the players to chip the ball off the floor, so receiving players will need to take a touch to get it under control
  • Define the type of first touch you would like players to take when receiving the ball (for example, use the outside of their foot, use the sole of their foot, or shift the ball onto their other foot)
  • After passing the ball, players run backwards (backpedal) to the back of their line
  • After passing the ball, players run to the opposite line, and weave in and out of the players in that line to get to the back
  • After passing the ball, players backpedal and weave in and out of the players in their on line behind them
  • Other variations could include throwing a ball to the player when they are halfway through their run, so they need to header/volley it back to you
2-lines passing drill: variation 1
2-lines passing drill: variation 2

2-Man 2-Touch Passing Drill

This simple soccer passing drill helps your player practice moving the ball out of their feet, laterally, with a good first touch. Varying the type of touch gets them used to using different parts of their feet and helps them understand the importance of setting up the second touch (the pass).

Equipment Needed:

  • 2 cones
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 2 soccer players

2-man 2-touch passing drill set-up:

  • Place 2 cones approx 10-15 yards apart
  • 1 player stands at each cone
  • The soccer ball starts at the feet of one of the players
2-man 2-touch passing drill - set-up

2-man 2-touch passing drill execution:

  • The players pass the ball to each other at the cones
  • They should take 2 touches: the first touch to move the ball to the other side of the cone and the second touch to pass the ball
  • Players vary their first touch to move the ball the other side of the cone, spending approx 30 seconds on each
  • The coach calls out different types of first touch:Using the inside of the foot
  • Using the outside of the foot
  • Using the sole of the foot
2-man 2-touch passing drill - execution

2-man 2-touch passing drill coaching points:

  • Encourage players to stay in an athletic stance ready to receive the pass
  • After 30 seconds switch to a different type of first touch
  • Vary the direction of the first touch so that players use both feet
  • Encourage players to play passes with the inside of their foot
  • Encourage players to play a crisp pass and ask them to think about the correct weight and power

2-man 2-touch passing drill variations/progressions

  • Vary the type of passes that are played, such as:
    • Instep drilled passes
    • Slightly chipped passes that make it more difficult to get a clean first touch
    • Lofted curled passes
2-man 2-touch passing drill - variation

Passing & receiving drill

This passing drill is an intermediate level passing drill that teaches your players how to effectively receive a ball and change direction of play. It will reinforce the need for a good first touch out the players’ feet, and being aware of the position of your teammates. It also helps players to practice taking the ball while they’re on the move, as players should be encouraged to move around the circle, and not just stand in the center.

Equipment needed:

  • 1 soccer ball
  • 4 cones
  • 4-6 soccer players

Passing & receiving drill set-up:

  • Set out a square approx 15 x 15 yards
  • Start with a player on each side of the square and one in the center (5 players in total)
  • Two of the players on the outside of the circle have balls
Soccer passing & receiving drill: set-up

Soccer passing & receiving drill: execution

  • The player in the center shows that they want tot receive the ball from one of the players on the outside
  • The player on the outside plays the ball into the center player, who must control it and pass it to an outside player without a ball (not the one who has just made the pass)
  • Once the center player has made their pass, they must immediately receive a pass from another outside player and make another pass
  • The drill runs for 1–2 minutes, then a different player goes in the center until all players have had a chance
Soccer passing & receiving drill: execution

Coaching tips

  • This drill focuses on the passing and receiving of the player in the middle
  • Try to keep the drill at a high tempo
  • The player in the middle should dictate who plays the ball to them by showing that they want the ball using an open body position and demanding the ball
  • Encourage players on the outside to play passes in at pace to test the first touch of the middle player
  • Middle player should always be on their toes and not flat footed
  • Encourage the center player to turn on the ball with their first touch, so that they open up the playing space and can see all of the other outside players
  • Focus on the weight and accuracy of passes (from all players)
  • Encourage no more than two touches from the center player where possible
  • Encourage the use of both feet from the center and outside players

Passing & receiving drill progressions & variations

  • Put two players in the middle, and keep four on the outside
  • Make the area bigger to work on longer passes and vary the type of passes that are being played into the center player
  • Add a third ball, so there is only ever one free player on the outside (who the center player must find)

Soccer Passing & Receiving in Pairs Drill

Equipment needed:

  • Approximately 5 soccer balls
  • 25 yards of space
  • 6+ soccer players

Soccer passing & receiving in pairs drill set-up:

  • Create a circle with at least 6 players, 3 with a ball and 3 without
  • Make the circle approximately 20 – 25 yards in diameter
  • Two other players start in the center of the circle: one is the ‘receiver’, the other is the ‘passer’
Soccer drill passing & receiving in pairs - set-up

Soccer passing & receiving in pairs drill execution

  • The players around the circle take it in turns to pass the balls into the receiving player
  • The receiving player lays the ball off to the passing player (preferably with one touch where possible)
  • The passing player then plays the ball to one of the players on the outside of the circle without a ball (again, using just one touch)
  • Swap the roles of the two inner circle players after 1 minute then start the drill again with another two players until everyone has been inside the circle and performed both roles
Soccer drill passing & receiving in pairs - execution

Soccer passing & receiving in pairs coaching tips

  • The receiving player should create space by moving away and not towards the passing player on the outside of the circle
  • Encourage a high tempo to replicate the intensity of the game
  • Limit inner circle players to 1 touch where possible
  • Inner circle passer to stay as close to the receiver as possible making the layoff short

Progressions & variations

  • Have 2 pairs inside the circle at once
  • Add an extra player in the middle: the receiver passes to the player 2, who then passes to player 3, who plays the ball out of the middle
  • Alter the size of the circle to vary the range of passing
  • Alter the style of pass into the receiver (lobbed passes, straight passes, curled passes)

Soccer drill passing & receiving in pairs - progression

The Square Soccer Passing Drill

Equipment needed:

  • 1 soccer ball
  • 4 cones
  • At least 4 soccer players

The square drill set-up:

  • Mark out a square approximately 12 by 12 yards
  • 4 players participate, each stands in a corner just outside a cone
  • Any of the 4 players can start with the ball
Soccer the square passing drill - setup

The square passing drill execution

  • Players must pass the ball from player to player around the outside of the square focusing on controlling the ball and the quality of the pass
  • The aim is for the ball to stay on the outside of the square and not hit the cones
  • The drill can continue for a few minutes then switch direction
Soccer the square passing drill - execution

The square passing drill coaching tips:

  • When the ball is travelling in a clockwise direction, players should use the left foot only, then when the ball travels counter-clockwise they should use the right
  • Players to make a small sharp movement of a couple of yards back from the cone in order to receive the ball on their inside foot and create a passing angle to the next player – they should time this movement with the previous player receiving the ball (they can imagine their cone is an opposition player)
  • Focus on the quality of the first touch
  • Encourage good weight and accuracy of passes

The square passing drill progressions & variations:

  • Limit of 2 touches per player
  • Make square bigger for longer passes
  • Players can follow their pass to add a fitness element (with the last player dribbling to the empty cone each time the ball goes round the square)
  • Introduce a second ball so two balls are circulating the square at the same time (you may need to make the square into a pentagon and add a 5th player)
Soccer the square passing drill - variations

The Circle Soccer Pass and Move Drill

Intro sentence

Equipment needed:

  • 1 soccer ball
  • Approx. 20 yards of space
  • 6+ players

The circle pass and move drill set-up:

  • Organize 6-12 players in a circle approximately 15 yards in diameter
  • 1 player starts in the middle of the circle
  • The ball starts at the feet of any player around the outside of the circle
The circle soccer passing drill - set-up

The circle pass and move drill execution

  • Player with the ball passes into the player in the middle, then follows their pass
  • The player in the middle controls the ball and passes it out to the next player around the edge of the circle (either clockwise or counter-clockwise – the coach can decide)
  • The player on the outside who receives the ball then passes to the new player in the middle
  • All players follow their passes so there is a constant changing of positions
  • The circle shape should be maintained throughout
The circle soccer passing drill - execution

Coaching tips:

  • Focus on accuracy and weight of pass
  • Encourage sharp and quick movement of players into new positions once ball is played
  • Encourage players to call for the ball and show an open body position to receive the ball
  • Create a quick tempo if possible

The circle pass and move drill variations & progressions

  • Limit players to one touch only
  • Limit players to passing with their weaker foot only
  • Make the circle bigger to focus on longer range of passing
  • Randomly change the direction of play (from clockwise to counter-clockwise or visa versa) to challenge players to think quickly and respond to changing commands
  • With large groups, start with two or even three players in the middle of the circle ‘back to back’ so two or three balls are moving round the circle

The circle soccer passing drill - variation

Soccer Long-Passing Drill

Intro sentence

Equipment needed:

  • 4 cones
  • 1 soccer ball
  • Approx. 40 yards of space

Soccer long passing drill set-up

  • Mark out a long thin rectangle, approximately 40 yards long x 10 yards wide (distance can be altered depending on age range)
  • 2 players start at one end of the rectangle
  • Another 2 players start at the opposite end
  • One pair starts with the ball
Soccer long passing drill - set-up

Soccer long passing drill execution

  • One player plays a long pass towards the other pair
  • One of the ‘receiving’ pair controls the ball while laying it off to their partner
  • Their partner in turn lays it back to them
  • The ‘receiving player’ can then play a long pass to the opposite pair, ideally first time
  • The same happens at the other end
  • The drill continuously repeats with the pairs switching roles so they each get lots of goes at playing the long pass
Soccer long passing drill - execution

Coaching tips:

  • Encourage good striking technique to ensure accuracy of pass
  • Receiving players should be on their toes, ready to move to receive the pass if necessary
  • Focus on the quality of touch of the receiving player
  • Emphasize the quality of the lay off to the player making the pass

Progressions & variations

  • Limit all players to one touch
  • Increase the passing distance between the two groups
  • Focus on low driven passes with the laces
  • Focus on high lofted passes
  • Focus on curled passes with the instep
  • add a defender in to each pair. This defender becomes active once the receiving player has taken their first touch. The receiving pair must them play keep ball between themselves to keep the ball away from the defender and work the space to play a long pass back to the opposite pair