Whether you are playing in a competitive adult league or coaching disorganized U8s, crisp passing of the ball can completely flummox opponents. If you can get your team to be the best at midfield passing, you have a very good chance at coming away with a championship trophy at the end of the season.
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Triangle Passing Warm-Up
The bedrock formation of passing in soccer is the triangle -- one player passes to another while a third provides support. Set up three cones about 15 feet apart. Set up your teammates in a line behind one of the cones, and set one player at each of the other two cones. The player at the head of the line passes to one of the singleton players and runs toward that player. The singleton player one-touches the ball back to the next player in the line, who passes it to the singleton player at the third cone. After each pass, the player follows the pass to take the place of the recipient of the pass. Continue for five minutes.
Pro soccer coach John Kowalski recommends in “Attacking Soccer” several slightly more advanced drills to help midfielders aged 15 and up. The goal of the pro warm-up drill is to encourage quick, one-touch passing to an open teammate who can maintain possession. With plastic markers, mark off rectangles measuring 12-by-15 yards, setting each rectangle about 25 yards apart. Set up teams of about eight players in each rectangle. Team A in the first box must try to complete seven passes while players from Team B try to block them. Team A gets a point if it completes the passes and then sends a long pass into Team B’s box. Team B repeats trying to link up seven passes followed by a long pass back to Team A's box. The game continues until one team amasses five points.
Technical and Tactical Drill
Try Coach Kowalski’s technical and tactical drill. Start by marking off a 44-by-36-yard rectangle centered on the kickoff circle. In other words, players will be in the midfield throughout this drill. You need three teams with four players in each. Two teams will play four versus four. The remaining four players will space themselves outside the playing area, one on each side of the rectangle. They can support either team with wall passes or overlap runs. Award points when a team completes seven consecutive passes.
Middle Third Passing
For this drill, which is found in coach Michael Parker’s “Premier Soccer,” you’ll first mark off the area of the field in between the penalty boxes, and then further subdivide the field into thirds. A crowded game of eight versus eight takes place in the middle third. One goalkeeper sends the ball in to a teammate. This drill becomes challenging, because the receiving player must find a teammate to receive a pass in this cozy middle third to build up an attack on goal. The teammate can pass the ball into the attacking third for another pair of teammates to attempt a goal.