A complete passing practice plan

I’ve used this practice with my U11 girls’ team with some success. It really builds confidence and skill levels as you progress through the different games.

Warm Up 5 – 10 minutes. Activity level – Mild. Space: General. 1 – 2 Players per group.

Numbers Passing

numbers passing

Players pass the ball to the player with the number one higher than their own. (eg. 5 passes to 6, 11 to 1). Ball travels through the entire team. First, allow unlimited touches, then two touches, not allowing the ball to stop, then one touch. Try playing with left foot only, outside of foot only, without talking.

Coaching Points

  • Eye contact.
  • Good passing technique.
  • Angles of support.
  • Proper weight of passes.
  • Keep body open to the field of play

Pass and Defend

pass and defend

The Game

Groups of three, one ball per group. Player A rolls the ball (receiving ground balls) or tosses the ball (receiving air balls) to either player B or player C. In this example, player C must control the ball and get a completed pass to player B. While this is occurring, player A immediately challenges player C and tries to win the ball back. After successful pass, player C would then pick up the ball and repeat the activity as the defender. The defender is awarded a point for winning the ball back and gets to throw again.

Coaching Points

  • Encourage defender to pressure quickly after the toss. Defender needs to work hard at closing down the space while the ball is in flight.
  • Receiving player’s first touch should be away from the pressuring defender.
  • Player receiving the pass should move to create a clear passing lane.
  • Do not allow the receiving player to one touch the incoming toss. This is a receiving drill, as well as a drill that serves as a good warm-up for practices dealing with defenders.

Small Game: 20 – 25 Minutes. Activity level: Medium progression to high. Space: Defined space “smaller”. 3 – 5 players per group.

Numbers Up Keep Away


The Game

A basic keep away game. One team tries to keep the ball from the other team. Because the one team has an advantage, the amount of reps of the skill (ie. passing and receiving) is increased. There are many variations; lose the ball and go in the middle, play for a time limit, if you “split” the two defenders with a pass, you get a goal, play 3 v. 1, 5 v. 2, 6 v. 3.

Coaching Points

  • Angle and distance of support must be good.
  • Keep hips facing the play.
  • Weight and accuracy of passes.
  • Good passing technique.
  • Team shape, wide support and at height.
  • Defending – make play predictable by being patient.

Targets Passing

targets passing

The Game

Start with three teams of equal numbers. The space should be rectangular in shape. Team A starts as free target players on all sides of space. Teams B and C play a game of keepaway. Passes can be made to the A players (they must return the ball to the the passer’s team). Count the number of consecutive passes. Ten equals one goal. After a specified time period, or a goal, rotate teams. Let the scoring team make the decision whether to become “targets” or stay in the grid.

Coaching Points

  • Encourage good pace and accuracy of passes.
  • Pace should be fast enough so defenders can not intercept, and comfortable for the receiver to control.
  • Accuracy – Ball should be played to players feet.
  • Players need to make good decision on how to utilize targets to retain possession.


Targets can only one touch the ball.

Field players must have 1, 2 or 3 touches, depending on skill level.

Award a goal if player can make a wall pass with target players.

Team Game 30 Minutes plus. Activity level: High. Space: half – full size pitch. 7 – 11 players per team.

8 v. 8 with Corner Goals


The Game

8 v. 8 played on half a field. Set up 10 yard squares in each corner of the field. These act as goals. A goal is scored when the ball is passed into the square and then out to a teammate. Each team can attack any of the four goals.

Coaching Points

  • Keep the team balanced in attack and defence. Don’t bunch up around one goal.
  • Look to attack the goal that is open. See if players can recognize where the pressure is.
  • It should be easy to keep possession since the defence has so many goals to defend. Be patient in attack and don’t take unnecessary risks.
  • In defence, look to create opportunities to double team.


Play with two balls to open game up.

Allow a goal if player dribbles in and out of square.

Insist that passing goals require three players.

Limit players to 2 touches

End Zone Game

End zone game

The Game

Set up field as shown with a seven yard “Endzone” at each end. Score a goal by getting the ball from one “Endzone” to the other by passing or dribbling. Once a goal is scored, immediately attack going in the other direction. The end zones are “free”. Only the attacking team can enter this area.

Coaching Points

  • Attacking and defending principles
  • Counter attack
  • Passing and receiving

Keeper to Keeper

keeper to keeper

The Game

This is a possession game that uses the keepers. Instead of trying to score, each team tries to pass the ball from one keeper to another. Keepers can play the ball with their hands.

Coaching Points

  • In attack: Attacking principles of play. Always look to get the ball forward and to the keeper. especially, right when you get it from the keeper. Counter attack often. Since the flow of play changes quickly, players get practice in the back and front.
  • In defence: Must have pressure on the ball. Quickly get behind the ball when possession is lost. Prohibit counter attacks.
  • Good, quick keeper distribution.

Warm Down 5 – 10 Minutes. Activity level: Low ramping down. Space: General, No specific boundaries. 1 – 2 players per group.

Triangle Passing Drill

triangle passing

The Game

The triangle has sides of one yard in length. Player A passes the ball to player B. Player B receives the ball at position 2, after it has come out of the triangle. B then touches the ball to the side and returns it to A making sure the ball does not travel through the side of the triangle which it came from. The diagram shows 2 options for the return pass. Try to keep the game going as long as possible without making a mistake.

Coaching Points

  • Passing and receiving warm-ups.
  • Preparing the surface before reception, keeping feet active.
  • Keep body facing the play. Use good technique.


Allow unlimited touches to develop a feel for the game.

Restrict players to 2 touches, one to prepare ball, one to return it.

Ask the players to determine if there is an easier way to bring their first touch. (This should be towards the nearest cone – the cut becomes determined)

Nearest Cone forces player to take his eyes off the ball and look at the “field” in front of him.

Make the triangle 2 yards apart and see what happens.