Two simple games that improve passing and receiving skills

Warm Up

Divide the team in two. Place players in a 20 x 20 yd grid without a ball. Place an equal number of players on outside of the grid each with a ball. Inside players move around the grid freely, receive a ball from an outside player and return it as quickly as they can. Switch positions after a while.


  • Return with one touch, then two touches,
  • Receive with outside of the foot, inside of the foot, left foot only…
  • Receive balls out of the air.
  • Receive, turn and find a different target

Coaching Points

  • Quality of first touch. Keep it outside your “footprints” so that it can be returned quickly.
  • Prepare the receiving surface as soon as possible.
  • Be first to the ball, get into the line of flight of the ball.
  • Make “eye contact” with the server.
  • Changes of speed and direction.
  • Do not run “across” the server, check back at an angle. This makes it easier to turn and look back over your shoulder.


The ladder relay

Ladder relay

Divide the team into two or three groups depending upon how many players are at practice. Set up a “ladder” of cones as shown. Players pass and receive moving the football up the ladder. Last player in ladder dribbles ball to bottom and re-starts the passing. When the original bottom rung player gets back to the lowest rung the team “wins”.

Chaos in the circle

Chaos in the circle

The following game is used as a warm-up by the U.S. Women’s National Team as a way to work trapping skills in a match related type of environment.

Four (4) players are inside a 15 yard diameter circle with the rest of the team outside. Four (4) of the outside players have a ball. The inside players have to run around within the circle and free themselves for a pass coming from the outside.

Initially let them just return the ball to the outside player and then move on to take another pass from another outside player. After they have become relatively proficient at trapping the ball have them trap it and perform a three touch move and then return it to another outside player.

The quick movements within the circle, the heads up required so that you don’t run into a teammate all help to simulate match type conditions.