Passing, defending and communication

Objective: improve passing, defending, communication

  • Warm up 15 minutes
  • Skills exercise: 20 minutes
  • Game: 15 minutes
  • Drinks, discussion, setting up: 10 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes

Equipment: 30 small cones, a goal (can be cones but the exercise goes better with a ‘proper’ goal), bibs and one ball for every player.

Warm up

  • Set up three parallel lines of ten cones, closely spaced. Lines should be about 20 metres apart.
  • Children jog slowly from one line to far line and back then:
  • 2 footed jump over centre line
  • 2 footed jump forwards/backwards (once, twice) over centre line
  • Sidestep to centre line then other way
  • Jog to end line, jog backwards to centre line, sprint
  • Heels up to centre line then knees up
  • Touch cones on centre line as they pass
  • On end line, usual stretches
  • All have a ball – feet together, legs straight, slowly roll ball down body to toes and back 5 times.
  • Legs apart, knees bent, figure of eights.
  • On your toes, tap passing. Ten quick taps.
  • Repeat taps followed by sprint to far line pick up cones, and back.

Skills exercise: 1 goal keepaway

Set up a rectangular playing area with a goal in the centre of one side.

The larger the area is, the easier the exercise is, so for young children you can use up to half a full size pitch. As they get more skilful and/or older you should gradually reduce the size of the playing area to make the exercise more challenging.

Divide the children into two teams identified with bibs. One team attacks, the other defends. The defending team ‘scores’ a point by achieving a certain number of consecutive passes, the attacking team gets a ‘point’ by scoring a goal. First to five points is the winner.

Start play by giving ball to attackers. Their first pass is free (no tackling by defenders).

Restart play with throw in or kick in. No corners. Goalie throws ball out to a defender (credit one pass).


Play two touch, then one touch.

Coaching points:

Emphasise the importance of the defenders not diving in. Encourage ‘123 defending’.

Attackers should pass and move. No standing still!

All players should be encouraged to communicate with each other.

Small sided game

Finish the session with a small-sided game. Look for children building on the skills practiced in the above exercise and praise them.