8 Soccer Passing Drills to Improve Your Game
Passing is a fundamental skill that carries players along no matter what age they are. It’s important that young athletes learn passing to prepare them for game situations.
Soccer passing drills will help them get their eyes up, look for a target, and make an accurate pass even when they’re being defended. Let’s take a look at some simple but effective soccer passing drills.
Soccer Passing Drills for All Ages
The first passing soccer drills we’ll cover will apply to athletes of all ages. These drills are designed to help players control the ball and execute accurate passes to other players while being defended or guarded.
1. One Touch Passing
One of the most valuable skills we teach players is the one touch pass. Divide athletes up into pairs and each pair gets one ball.
Set each pair on opposite sides of each other and each time they pass the ball, they’ll move a little closer together.
Once they’re right on top of each other, you can then instruct them to start moving backwards until they reach the starting point. Have a set time limit to run this drill and ensure that the passes are accurate and are reaching the player on the other side.
The goal of this drill is to teach the players to stop the ball when it’s passed to them and then use the side of their foot to make a pass to the other player.
The varying distances help them learn that they need to put different amounts of power into their passes based on how far away the other player is.
2. Pass Through Traffic
Divide players into groups of three giving each group a ball. Set two cones on each side with approximately 10 feet between each cone. You should have a rectangular shape when the drill is set up.
Have an offensive player between each set of cones. This is their zone. Place a defender in the middle of the grid.
The defender will try to intercept the pass while the offensive players attempt to pass the ball to each other.
This drill teaches players of all ages that they need to react quickly and they have to be creative with passing. Having a defender simulates game situations.
Encourage offensive players to try and trick the defender and treat it like a game of “monkey in the middle.”
3. 1-in-1 Out
Divide players into four lines creating a square shape. Each player should be facing the line across from them standing diagonal towards the middle of the square.
One player goes in the middle and turns around to face the player with the ball. The athlete with the ball then passes to the player in the middle, they turn 180 degrees, and then pass to the player in the front of that line.
The person who passed the ball, follows it, and goes to the back of the line they passed to.
Whoever receives the pass then passes to the middle player again and the process repeats for as long as you’d like.
Keep in mind that this drill can get confusing but once the players have done it enough times they will grasp it. Start slow and increase in speed as you deem fit.
This is a great warmup drill and it helps teach the athletes that they need to receive a pass, turn around, and make another pass in game situations. Stress the importance of accuracy and intensity as you coach them to go as fast as possible.
4. Meet the Ball
Meet the ball is another great drill to teach one touch passes. Two players line up on each side with one in the middle. Each player on the side gets their own ball.
The player in the middle will then practice receiving a pass from one player at a time, stopping it, and making a pass back.
Once one player does it, the athlete in the middle turns around, and does the same thing with the player on the other side.
You can lay four cones down to ensure that the players are keeping enough distance from each other when making a pass.
The point of this drill is to teach the players to make accurate passes with the right amount of touch. If they pass too hard, the ball will go past the player in the middle and the drill will stall.
If the pass is too short, it won’t reach the middle players zone.
Make sure to focus on one touch passes and coach the athletes to use the inside of their foot when making a pass.
You could even place a soccer goal on each side and have them turn and score once they get the ball.
U8 Soccer Passing Drills
Here are a few soccer passing drills that specifically appeal to players under eight years old. These are a little simpler than some of the other drills and focus on the fundamentals.
5. Numbers Passing
Split the team into two equal groups and create a playing area with cones based on the number of players you have.
Assign each player a number starting with one and tell them to make sure they remember their number.
The player assigned number one will start with the ball and make a pass to number two. Number two then passes to three and so on.
Make sure there is enough space between each player.
The point of this drill is to coach players to keep their eyes up and to communicate. If a player is stuck on who to pass to next, make sure the next number in line tells the athlete with the ball to pass to them.
Get the players used to soccer terms like side, middle, across, switch, and wide. Instruct them to move the entire time and not stay in one place.
6. Space Wars
This is a fun and competitive drill that will help get the athletes moving and excited about playing soccer.
Set up a large square zone based on how many players you have. Have players line up shoulder to shoulder with space in between them on each side. Give every player a ball and use jerseys or pinnies to differentiate the two teams.
On your command, they’ll start dribbling towards the player on the opposite side and attempt to use their ball to knock the other player's ball out of the playing area. Once their ball is outside the playing area, they’re out.
Coach players to use only their ball to knock another player's ball out. They cannot kick the other ball.
This drill helps athletes learn that they need to keep their ball close and maintain control of it at all times. If the ball gets too far away from them, it’s more likely to get knocked out.
U6 Soccer Passing Drills
Players under six are just beginning their soccer career and need basic drills to teach fundamentals. Most importantly, these drills need to be fun so they associate enjoyment with the sport. If they get too frustrated by being unable to perform a drill correctly, they may not want to return to soccer.
7. Grid Passing
Grid passing is a simpler version of the “pass through traffic” drill. It’s essentially the same thing without the defender.
Create two zones on each side and separate the groups into two players. Give each duo a ball and have them set up in the zones.
Instruct the players to make accurate passes to the player across from them and make sure the ball stays in that zone.
Make sure they are stopping the ball with the foot and then making a pass using the one touch rule.
This drill teaches players to make accurate passes by providing them a zone rather than just a player. As long as the pass is within the zone they’ve succeeded. It also helps them receive a pass and stop it with their foot.
8. Guard the Castle
Set up four cones creating a square and one disc cone in the middle. Put a soccer ball on the disc cone.
Separate into groups of four with three players on offense and one on defense. The offensive player's job is to try and knock the ball off the disc cone in the middle with a pass.
If the defender knocks the ball out of the playing area, give it back to the offense and try again.
Make sure players are passing the ball to each other to try and trick the defender in the middle. This is a fun way of getting everyone working together and understanding that another player may have a better opportunity so they should pass it.
How do you teach a soccer player to pass?
The best way to teach a young athlete to pass is through repetition. Run the drills above and if you’re just teaching them in the backyard, you can do a lot of these drills with only two people.
What are the 4 ways to pass a soccer ball?
The 4 ways to pass are a push pass, loft pass, chip pass, and a one-two pass.
Passing drills in soccer are fundamental to helping players learn and grow. We hope these soccer passing drills help you get your players engaged so they keep coming back week after week. Be patient and good luck!If you’re coaching youth soccer, for younger players below U8, check out our 3-in-1 soccer starter goal! For players U9 and above, check out our other larger Open Goaaals!