Short and sharp passing

This session is great for improving passing quality – in technique, accuracy and weight. It also helps perfect the skill of disguising a pass.

Although the core of this session is uncomplicated, these basics are vital for players because a reliance on good passing forms the bedrock onto which every other skill is added. For that reason, I view this as one of the most important sessions that we run.


Up to a full pitch
Balls, cones, goals
Number of Players
Up to 11v11
Session time
Warm-up 10mins
Passing drills 25mins
11v11 20mins

What do I get the players to do?

Warm-up (1)

It’s important we warm players up properly, so we’ll get them moving from cone to cone, with sharp and gentle turns, sprints and jogs between targets, and any other dynamic movements that loosen them up for what is to follow.


• In the Warm-up, players approach cones and make a variety of turns, sprints and dynamic movements to loosen themselves up

Passing lines (2)

Next, setting up two lines of players 10 yards apart, we practise one- and two-touch passing moves. We can extend the distance between players as they become more proficient and confident.


• In Passing lines, a simple 10-yard gap between players presents a one- and two-touch passing challenge that requires constant concentration

Passing diamond (3)

We now move to angled passing, using a passing diamond (or clock). The target player in the centre receives from one player then, one-touch, angles a pass to the next man around the edge in a clockwise direction, continuing on until he completes the loop. We then rotate the target player.


• In the Passing diamond, the central player receives and moves the ball on to the next man clockwise on the circle, using one-touch only

Set passes (4)

Next, we use a set pass formation. One player in each pair plays square to the other, and a diagonal pass is made across the area to the front player in the line of three. A similar onward diagonal pass is then made to the opposite pair, and the practice restarts in the other direction. Keep pairs fixed, but each player in the line of three rotates after touching of the ball. Play for two minutes then rotate all players.


• In Set passes, a circuit of short straight and longer diagonal passes enables players to vary how they link up with one another

Disguised passes (5)

With disguised passes, the player ‘shows’ one way (denoted by the blue lines) but passes another. Each player follows his pass, running to the back of the next line, and allowing the ball to be worked clockwise around the area.


• In Disguised passes, the emphasis is on ‘showing’ to pass one way then pushing the ball off at an angle. The pass can go in any direction. Players follow their passes

What are the key things to look out for?

We’re looking for a good first touch, awareness of team mates and good decision making. Passing quality is essential, both in terms of accuracy and weight of pass.

How would you put this into a game situation?

In a standard 11v11 set-up (6), players can only play two- or three-touch. Opponents must press the ball all over the pitch, with players replicating the passing and movement lessons learnt in the main part of the session.


• In the 11v11 game, greens make angled and straight passes, with a decoy run also mimicking the type of movement practised earlier on in the session

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