Skip to main content
A player makes a pass during training

Passing session: passing circles

Pete Augustine, FA coach development officer, shares a session that helps players think about passing.

Session plan

Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan and give it a go. 


In this example, we've used 12 players. You can adapt it depending on numbers at your session and your teams' stage of development. 

To set up, use cones or flat spot markers to create one circular area and one rectangular area with two end zones. Split each of the end zones into three segments – make the middle segment narrower to reflect the width of a goal. 


How to play


The warm-up takes place in the circular area.  

Split your players into two teams of six. Five players will start the game inside the circle playing a 3v2. All other players will take up set positions around the edge of the circle. 

The aim of the game is to complete five passes to score a point. 

The team of three starts with the ball. They can work with their teammates outside the circle to complete the five passes. 

The team of two tries to win the ball back. If they do, a teammate outside the circle can join them, and an opposition player has to drop out. They then try to complete five passes and score points. 

Play for five minutes and count the scores for both teams.


The next part of the session will take place in the rectangular area. 

You need to split your players into two teams of five, with two neutral players.  

The two neutral players play on each touchline and can't be tackled. 

The team in possession can pass the ball to the neutral players. They then have two touches to control it and return it to a teammate. Encourage your team to use them as an outlet for long passes. 

Each team attacks an end zone. 

The aim of the game is to score points by passing the ball into the end zone and getting it under control. Each end zone is split into three segments. Doing this in the middle segment is worth two points, and both outer segments are worth one point. 

To encourage keeping possession, players can use their own end zone as a safe area. In here they have two free touches of the ball before the opposition can enter.


If your players master this activity – or find it too hard – try adding a progression. Here are some examples.  

  • In the warm-up, allow the players outside the circle to move and think about their positioning. Encourage players inside the circle to scan more to find their teammates. 
  • In the wider practice, assign each neutral player to a team. Put more focus on positioning to use them as an outlet. 

Remember, learning takes time. So don’t alter things too quickly or too much. Using the STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002) can help keep things fun, engaging and appropriate.  

Extra resources

Want more info on this session? Watch our:

Once you've put this session into practice, share your experience on the England Football Community.