Direct central passing

Teams do a lot of work passing out wide and working the wings but sometimes the direct route is open and fast passing can create swift attacks and counter attacks. This session looks at improving the speed of passing moves in attacking situations. It uses fast counter-attacking as a key weapon using the quickest and most dangerous route to goal.

Set up

You need balls, bibs, cones and goals. Set up an area 40×30 yards with a 15×10 yard box on the half way lines on each wing. We used 14 players in the session.

How to play it

Split the players into two teams of 7 including goalkeepers. Play starts with one of the keepers who rolls the ball out to a player in his half of the pitch. The ball cannot go into the two wide zones at any time during the game although players can run through it without the ball – if the ball does go in it is turned over to the opposition. Attacks are forced through the central area. Time penalties can be added as a progression. You can adjust the
width of the no-go zones as the 11v11 match progresses. The bigger they are, the more intense the requirement is for players to construct tight passing moves through the middle, because the margin for error is greater.


Players’ body angle is important – in particular, receiving on the half-turn – so as to encourage rapid forward play. It’s important to consider too that while the ball cannot go into the no-go zones, players can still run through those areas in making forward and defensive runs. This can help create space in defence and attack.

    1. The coned off areas are no-go for the ball but players can still run through them into space to receive a pass
    2. Play starts with a pass out from the goalkeeper and must go through the central area of the pitch

Pass through the centre

    3. Here the player movement is important with receiving players being side-on to play so they can half turn quickly and move the ball forward
    4. Within a couple of good passes down the central line the players create a goalscoring chance with a quick counter attack after winning the ball

Attack centrally

    5. Here some quick interchanges and a one-two puts the attacker in on goal to score
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