Eleven soccer coaching games that help improve passing skills

Pressure passing

Set up a circle of cones about 10m in diameter (you can use the centre circle).

One player stands in the middle, the rest space themselves out equally around the edge of the circle. The player in the middle receives the ball from a player on the edge, controls it, turns and passes to another player. As soon as he or she passes the ball out, a second ball is played in from the edge of the circle. As soon as this ball is passed out to a player on the edge of the circle the first ball is played in again and so on.

The central player has to run quickly backwards and forwards to provide passes to the rest of the circle.

Swap players after one minute.

Stress the importance of good, crisp and accurate passing. Insist the central player gets their head up and looks at the target.

Vary the game by only allowing two touches, then one touch.

Played properly, this is an intensive and fun workout.

Keep Away ring

Players pair up and stand across from each other around a circle of cones. One player or coach stands inside the circle and tries to intercept passes made between the players. Passes made between the players count as goals. Change the players in the circle after a pass is intercepted or after a short time.

Cone Game

Players pair up and stand across from each other around a circle. Set up 6 or 8 cones in the middle of the circle as targets. Players try to knock over the cones in the middle with accurate passes.

Triangle Pass

Set up a three player triangle. Each group has one ball. Players try to pass around the triangle shape. Make sure they reverse the direction of the passes from time to time.

After a certain level of proficiency is reached, add a defender to try and intercept the passes.

Four Corner Pass

Set up a 10 yd. x 10 yd grid with cones at each of the corners. Four players work with one ball, one on each side of the grid. A fifth player defends inside the grid.

Players may only run on their sides of the grid between the cones. They then attempt to pass the ball across the grid. Change the middle defender frequently.

Star Wars

This classic game is very exciting for younger players. Set up a 10 yd. x 20 yd. grid. Have all players’ line up at one end prepared to run to the other end. The coach or player stands just outside the grid with several balls at the ready.

On command the players attempt to run to the endline while evading balls kicked at them by the coach. All shots should be kept below waist level. Players hit by shooting balls become additional shooters until only one player is left.

Basic passing

Split the team up into partners, giving each pair a ball. Have the players pass and trap the ball, while you evaluate their skill. Later, introduce one touch control passing

Circle passing

Many of the basic circle games can be used to practice passing. Try using a circle with two players in the middle trying to intercept passes made by the girls on the outside. The player whose pass is intercepted goes into the middle.


This is a good way to reinforce basic passing skills with the added bonus of introducing vision and awareness.

Make some triangles on the field using small cones about ten yards apart.

To start the game, each cone has a player standing next to it. Player 1 passes to player 2 then immediately runs between player 2 and 3. Player 2 passes to player 3 and runs through the gap between player 3 and player 1. And so on.

Done properly, this is a fast game that reinforces the pass/move combination, makes players look carefully to find their next target and requires good passing technique. Just be careful the players don’t all disappear out of sight!


RelaysThe basic practice is A passing to D and running to the back of the line, D passing to B and so on. Practice this for a few minutes (watching for and praising correct technique) then add the requirement that players must shout out the name of the person they are passing to. If they don’t, send them back and make them do it again.

Adding this rule has the following benefits.

  • It makes the players talk,
  • It makes them look up to see who they are passing to,
  • If done at the start of a season, it helps introduce the new girls to each other and breaks down inhibitions.

This game can be made competitive by making the first team to do 30 passes the winner.

Many variations are possible – go from two touch to one touch, for example.

Three ball keepaway

Start with two teams of equal numbers and three soccer balls. On your signal, players try to possess as many balls as possible.

On your second signal the play stops and the team in possession of two or more balls wins that round. Repeat several times.

In this game, players must be good passers of the ball to keep possession. They must also make decisions on where to run when they don’t have the ball, when to pass or dribble, and whom to pass to.