Playing and receiving through the lines


40x40 yards


Balls, bibs, cones

No. of players


Session time

Box passing 10mins plus 5mins per progression, Directional practice 10mins, Gates 10mins, 10v10 game 20mins

This session is about passing and receiving through the lines of the opposition.

It’s important to practise this because good passing obviously represents a core value of any club’s footballing philosophy, and particularly ours.

The skills that this approach play showcases can be utilised, harnessed and reused in every game, both when playing through the opposition and when passing amongst ourselves.

We’ll run this session fortnightly so the principles are always familiar to our players.

What do I get the players to do?

Box passing

We use 20 players – four teams of five players, each team with a ball. Players pass and follow in a clockwise direction at first, then anticlockwise (1). The focus for players is on playing through the bodies in front of them.


• In Box passing, teams play the ball around the area clockwise, then, as shown, anticlockwise

How do I progress the session?

Progressions increase the complexity of the passing patterns and the need for players to be aware of what’s around them. First, we progress so that two teams pass clockwise and two anticlockwise (2). Next, players receive and run with the ball whilst on the move, retaining the purpose of passing around the area.


• In the progression, two teams play clockwise, two play anticlockwise

Directional practice

Next we run a practice that’s 15v5. The five defenders are positioned one in each box plus a fifth floating player. They must stop the ball being passed around by tackling or intercepting (3). Play for 10 minutes, or until a set number of circulations have been achieved by the team in possession.


• In the Directional practice, the five defenders (four in boxes and a floater) must try to break the anticlockwise movement of the ball

Gates game

This is 6v4 in each half – gates are five yards wide and spread across the halfway line. Can the team of six move the ball into the other half through the unguarded areas? When successful, the gate defenders now push into the opposition half and press the other group of six players (4).


• In the Gates game, blues defending gates rush to press the top team of six when the ball is transferred

The chasing defenders now replace their team mates in the gates (5). If defenders win the ball back, the coach restarts with the waiting team of six.


1. When the ball goes dead, the coach will play another ball to the opposite half
2. Non-working blues move forward to replace their team mates in the gates
3. Blues make an interception

10v10 game

Finally, we move to a 10v10 game in the space between the two penalty boxes. One team plays 4-4-2, the other 4-3-3. In possession, teams must use the overloads practised earlier to work the ball through opposition players. Both teams out of possession should attempt to press whilst retaining their designated shape.

• In the 10v10 game, overloads are encouraged by enforcing players to stick to precise team formations: 4-4-2 and 4-3-3

What are the key things to look out for?

The emphasis is on the weight of the pass and the body position of players receiving the ball, always looking for an angle to keep play moving. Awareness and movement are essential components. 


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement