What is a through ball?
The through ball is a pass (usually a long pass) into a space behind the opposition.
Three conditions must be satisfied at virtually the same time:
- The opposition back line needs to be high up the pitch. There has to be at least 15 yards or more of clear space for an attacker to run into.
- The player in possession of the ball needs to be able to spot the space behind the opposition back line. To do this he needs to be able to control the ball with his head up.
The player in possession of the ball also needs to see that there is a player ready to run onto the through pass. This player needs to be in the correct position – it’s no good if the space is on the right and the attacker is on the left.
When is a through ball likely to be on?
There’s often a chance to make a through pass whenever the opposition has pushed most of its players up into an attacking position. Following a corner, for example, or a free kick near to your goal there will probably be a great deal of empty space in front of the opposition goal.
In these situations, a quick through ball can be a killer pass and it is an excellent way of mounting a fast counter attack.
Why coach it?
When carried out correctly, the through pass is an exciting move that can be devastatingly effective. Your players should be taught how to recognise the moment when a through pass is a possibility and be allowed time to practise it.
How to coach the through ball
Warm up by splitting your players into groups of three or four and playing piggy in the middle in small grids.
Change the player in the middle every minute or two and award points for every successful pass.
Coaching notes: Encourage the player on the ball to play with her head up and be decisive. The pass should be played as soon as an opportunity presents itself.
Encourage the receiving player to keep out of the defender’s “shadow”.
Game 1: Long Passing
Set-up: Divide your players into two teams of four or five plus two defenders.
Create a 30×20 playing area, divided into horizontal thirds: zone 1, zone 2 and zone 3. The middle third – zone 2 – is a relatively narrow “no go” zone that players cannot enter.
Team A and the two defenders go to zone 1, team B go to zone 3.
How to play: Team A pass the ball between themselves until they can spot an opportunity to earn a point by making a long pass to a player in zone 3.
The two defenders attempt to win the ball. If they succeed, they swap places with two of the players in team A.
If a long pass is made successfully, the defenders go to zone 3 and team B attempts to earn a point by making a long pass back into zone 1.
- Increase the size of the central “no go” zone.
- Restrict players to two or three touches.
Game 2: Passing Through The Thirds
Place a goal at both ends of the same playing area.
Divide your players into two evenly matched teams and play a small-sided game with the condition that a goal scored following a pass through two thirds of the pitch counts double.
Coaching note: To encourage your players to spot counter-attacking opportunities following a set piece, you can restart the game with a corner every time the ball goes out of play.
Finish the session with 4v4 games on separate pitches. No coaching, just congratulate any players that attempt a through pass.
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