How to coach passing in football
Ever wondered what makes a player good at passing? This article explores how The FA’s core capabilities can help your team master this skill.
Passing. The idea is to find a teammate in a better position and share the ball with them at the right moment. The key word there is ‘find’. Players need to spot who they will pass to before playing the ball. And, to do this, they need to scan.
Getting your players to lift their heads and look around is incredibly important. It’ll help them see the bigger picture and aid their decision-making. Once they’re comfortable doing this – particularly while on the ball – you can help them notice the right things. This includes spaces to explore, teammates to find and opponents to avoid.
To develop your team’s ability to scan, try using directional practices that involve an opposition (or at least other players to avoid). Small-sided games also offer opportunities for scanning, with more direct involvement for each player than larger formats. If your players are more experienced, try to transfer their scanning skills into larger formats, such as 7v7 and 8v8.
If you’re looking for effective passing – the kind that unlocks a defence – timing matters. Choosing when to play the ball is a skill that players refine over time. It’s down to experience and the opportunity to make their own decisions.
Unfortunately, at matches across the country, it’s common to hear shouts of “pass, pass”. Although these yells are well-intentioned, passing isn’t always the best option for the player in the moment. Plus, the instruction discourages players from discovering when is best to pass or hold onto the ball.
As well as providing the freedom to make their own decisions, you can help players explore timing by using a challenge. Try asking them to see how close they can draw a defender before passing, or if they can find their teammate with a pass that allows them to continue their run. This allows players to explore how staying on the ball can sometimes lead to better possibilities.