Sign up for our free newsletter! It's jam packed with info to increase speed, agility, quickness and soccer skills development. Please check your email after subscribing to confirm.


First Name:

Passing and Receiving-Part 1 by Ann Haertel

by Anne Haertel

Being able to make and receive good passes is a crucial element in the game of soccer. The components that are inherent in a good pass are related to every aspect of the game-- technique, positioning, movement, pace and accuracy must be done correctly to execute a good pass. Additionally, both players must communicate with each other. There are several ways a coach can work on these elements during training sessions that should help the players become more proficient. Each exercise breaks down the pass into one or two of its components, helping the players recognize them as well as keeping the activity similar to a game situation.

Proper technique is essential for doing these drills successfully. Coaches should be sure to demonstrate the correct techniques to be used during each activity.  


One of the key elements to making or receiving a good pass is movement. How many times during warm-ups do we see players facing each other, standing in one spot passing the ball back and forth to one another? While it is good to start the process slowly, that kind of static activity will do very little in preparing a player for the demands of the game or training session. Players should start warming up by gently dribbling with the ball. They should begin by first jogging easily around the field, touching the ball in front of them and progressing to setting the ball up for a variety of passes. For example, they might touch the ball with the outside of their foot and then move into position to make a pass with the inside of the same foot, making sure to use the right and left foot equally. They could then add flicks with the outside face of the foot, again making sure to use both feet equally. Next, they can touch the ball with the instep at various places on the ball to simulate striking the ball for driven balls, chips etc. As they pick up speed and get their muscles warmed up, they can progress to making hard passes into space and then running after the ball.


The next phase incorporates positioning as it relates to both passing and receiving the ball. Reduce the number of balls so there is about one ball for every two to three players. As the players continue their movement around the field, instruct the players with the ball to make a specific type of pass to a player without the ball. Players must communicate with the team mate to whom they are planning to pass the ball. They need to make sure their hips are open to the pass, that they approach the ball from the proper angle and that they strike the ball in the correct spot. The players who are receiving the ball, must, at the coach’s instruction, move to the space in which it is best to receive the pass, or check to the player who is giving the pass. Instruct the players to use both feet equally, and make sure to utilize all types of passes, i.e. inside face, outside face, instep, etc.


The next phase incorporates the previous two techniques and also helps players recognize the best pace with which to deliver a ball as well as the best speed to use when approaching a pass. Place the players into groups of three in a rectangle anywhere from ten to 25 yards long and five to ten yards wide. The distance apart will depend on how long the coach determines the passes should be. Place two players, each with a ball on either end of the zone to be worked in. The third player will be in the middle, doing most of the work. The players on the end will be working in a grid about five to ten yards square, with cones defining the grid. The middle player will show to one of the end players who is dribbling or touching the ball around and through the cones. As the middle player checks and communicates by calling the passer’s name, pointing to a space or calling a direction, the end player will pass the ball to the middle player and move somewhere else in the end grid.

The middle player will move to the ball and pass it back to the same player who has moved. The end player will receive the ball, take it around one or more of the cones, in preparation for the return of the middle player. The middle player, after passing back to the end player, will then check to the player at the other end of the zone.

Coaches will direct the type of pass to be made as well as the distance they should be delivered. The coach should direct the players as to whether they should use a one touch or two touch pass to return the ball. Coaching should be done to correct players on all aspects of passing and receiving the ball. After these elements of passing are perfected, or at least improved, the team can progress to other, larger scale activities to further increase passing and receiving skills.