Football Passing Drills

Football Passing Drills


Almost all football training sessions will include drills that involve passing. The ball can move faster when passed than an individual can run with the ball. As a result, developing passing skills will permit rapid and accurate advancement of the ball.

Skill Introduction – Gate Passing



  • Set up a 10 metre x 25 metre grid
  • Split players into pairs with one ball between 2
  • One player from each pair stand on opposite sides of the grid (the long side) facing each other with circa 3-4 metres between them and the player alongside them
  • Across the middle of the grid, there are a series of 1 metre wide gates (agility discs) half way between pairs
  • Players are to pass the ball through the gate to their partner using one touch to control and a second touch to pass (dependent on player proficiency first time passing is preferable)
  • Players should be encouraged to use both feet for control and passing
  • Encourage players to count how many successive gate passes they make in a 1 minute period, this will ensure passing is done more rapidly (like game situation)
  • After one minute stop, have players call out their score and recommence
  • Repeat 4 times


Players become proficient at passing within defined parameters with the correct weight on the pass. Players should be working towards first touch passing. Ensure players are standing on their toes moving forward to the ball and moving from side to side as the angle from each pass requires.


As players develop proficiency, widen the gap between the players to 10, 15 or 20 metres or make the gate narrower.

Skill Training – Pin Cushion



This training drill is designed to allow players to develop passing skills in a pressure situation, simulating game experience.

  • Set up 2 grids 20 metres x 20 metres
  • Split players into groups of 5.
  • One player with a ball stands on each corner with the 5th player standing in the middle of the grid
  • Starting with one corner, the player passes the ball to the middle player who controls and returns the pass to the same player
  • The middle player works their way around the grid 2 times and then change direction for 2 further times around the grid
  • Passing should be quick and as soon as the middle player returns a pass, the next player should have passed in anticipation
  • Encourage middle player to return to the centre of the grid after each pass ensuring that passes from the corner are directed to the centre rather than where the player is standing


Develop key passing skills like direction, weight and speed whilst players position their bodies favourably to receive and redistribute the ball. It also helps encourages players to develop a pass and moving mentality rather than feeling their work is done once they have completed a pass.


Like the first drill, we are working towards first touch passing. The grid can be made smaller to work on closer proximity and more rapid passing or wider to work on accuracy. If there are an odd number of players, 4 players can work as a triangle with one central receiving player surrounded by 3 serving players.


Skill Game – Man on Man



In this game players on 2 teams of 5 are matched up against each other. Each player picks a partner from the other team that only they are allowed to tackle.

  • Set up a 30 metre x 30 metre grid
  • Divide players into teams of 5
  • Number players on each side from 1 to 5 and have players identify the player with the matching number in their opponent’s team
  • Players with matching numbers can only tackle the player with the same number on the opposite team
  • Players must pass 5 consecutive times to score a point
  • Loose passes can be intercepted
  • Once players complete 5 passes they can immediately start again
  • Note there are no physical goal posts in this game.


This training drill delivers multiple benefits. It encourages players to pass and move into space. It also encourages players to mark a player from the opposition and maintain both an attacking and defensive mindset.


Reduce or increase the number of passes to score a point, depending on player proficiency. Introduce goals to ensure ball advancement through possession.

Passing, Listening and Reacting

One of the challenges for any coach of young kids is having them communicate effective information to their team mates. For the first few years of playing, kids will more often than not have their hand in the air calling their team mate’s name or ‘pass’. Utopia has young players calling ‘time’, ‘turn’ or ‘man on’. The reality is we have to teach them how to communicate effectively on the field.

This passing drill demonstrates a great way to get them communicating, albeit calling out a number. It makes them, think and react quickly whilst developing speed, direction and weight in their passing.

  • Set up a grid 6 metres x 6 metres
  • Position four players, one on each side with one ball between 4
  • 3 serving players around the grid are numbered 1, 2 and 3 whilst the 4th player is the target player
  • The ball starts with a serving player passing to the target player. The server calls out a number as they pass and the target player must pass to that number
  • That player then returns the ball to the target whilst calling out another number
  • The target player should change after 2 minutes
  • Players have a split second to respond and we are working towards one touch passing
  • Players who are not there yet should take a touch and pass


Passing Skill Development

Developing passing skills will assist teams and players maintain possession whilst advancing the ball when playing football. Failure to develop passing skills will result in more time chasing the opposition and less time attacking their goal. Further, chasing will drain your energy and deliver a significant advantage to your opponents when they are attacking.

Although possession doesn’t always reflect the result in a game, possession through passing, moving and communicating will go a long way towards determining the result in a game.


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6 thoughts on “Football Passing Drills”

  1. Those are four nice ideas for training. I know it’s hard to come up with those on your own (as you train), so I find your post very informative and useful as a training guide. I especially liked the numbers passing drill, because it emphasizes what is most important in modern football – making accurate first touch passes in split seconds.

  2. Training and maintaining the drills is great but being told his to stick with the basics is awesome critical to success in any match. Teaching kids on how to hold up possession and maintaining the game flow while dictating possession of the game takes time. And they need to be subjected to all these drills to ensure they are more focused on developing the team spirit and ball mastery. Thanks

  3. Maintaining a possession game is integral to any team’s  success. No team has won competition by giving the ball away almost every time. It is not just done. There is need to maintain the balance and flow in your teams while making the opposition beg for ball at your mercy and that is the only visible way to ensure success in every game. But learning to master the act requires constant practice and diligence. All the tips above are great and awesome. Thanks for sharing

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