Teach your players the push pass

Ages: 8+; Equipment: Cones/balls/bibs;

Players: 12+


Basic keepaway, with 1-2 defenders and remaining players in large grid, with rule that outside players must keep moving at slow jog. Defenders get 1 pt. if they steal ball, and outside players get 1 pt. if they can get 5 passes in a row. Outside players limited to 3 touches, then must pass or defenders win a point. Play to 5 points, then switch defenders out. Do stretches at each switch. Play for about 5-10 mins.

Individual Work

Illustrate the basic push pass.

Coaching Points:

  • Lock ankle of pass foot and turn foot outward;
  • Step beside ball, keeping knee of plant leg slightly bent, with toe of plant foot pointed where you want the ball to go;
  • Strike middle of ball with pass foot and follow through.
  • Stay loose and on your toes as the ball is approaching, so that you can adjust body position easily.

If possible, find a wall where each player can pass against the wall, or find flat bench (like for picnic table) to use as wall. Have players work on passing to specific spots (such as chalk marks) on the wall. Suggest to players that they can use wall or steps or garage door at home to work on passing.

If no walls available, then divide players into pairs, and put in small grids (about 20’x 10′). Put extra cones at the corners of the grids (will be used later). Have them pass to one another. Circulate to make corrections. When most have success, then add a contest where team which makes 20 good passes in a row wins the game. Hint: If you have an odd number of players, put 3 in a triangle in one grid.

Then, put cone in centre of grid, and require players to stand at the ends. Have a timed contest to see which player can hit the cone the most times in 2 mins. from his endline. Can use 1 ball or give ball to each player, allowing them to take closest ball back to endline for another pass at the cone.

Small group (match-related)

Set up series of small cone goals/gates in a large grid. Start 2-3 teams of players at any cone goal in the grid. Object is to pass thru all gates (either direction) to partner and then be first to exit by passing ball thru gate by coach. Must redo gate if ball not received by partner. Use extra players on sides to monitor that each team makes all gates. Swap out teams and run exercise with next group. Let each group run course 3 times, then do run-off of winners from each group. Hint: If you have an odd number of players, have 1 player play on two teams.

Set up new teams of 3 players each. Repeat exercise, and allow players to discover for themselves how much better they do with communication and an advanced runner. Say nothing for first 5 mins, except to correct passing techniques. Then, mention that the teams which are doing better are the ones which are talking and planning ahead on which goal to use next. If there is time, do another run-off of the winners.

Large Group (Match conditions)

Pick up cone goals inside large grid. Put most players in large circle inside grid, with 2-3 target players inside circle. Each of the outside players starts with a ball. Inside players must call for the ball, then pass to the feet of an outside player who does not have a ball, and go to another outside player to ask for another ball. Run for about 10 good passes/inside player, then swap them out. Now, add “shadow” for each of the inside players, who does not try to steal ball, but just shadows the receiver to add some pressure. Run exercise again, swapping shadows with passers after 10 good passes, then swapping in outside players for them. Finally, allow shadows to become active and try to win ball. Hint: If you have only 8 or fewer players, reduce the number of inside players to allow at least 5 outside players.

Ending game:

Play keepaway again inside large grid. See how many passes the group can now make in a row without interception by defender. Should have much better accuracy, as well as vision and communications.

Coaching Tip: This practice can be repeated for the next practice, to work on using the non-dominant foot. It also can be used to work on the quality of receiving the ball. Other passing games can be substituted for the sake of variety.