Rhythm passing

This activity is a great way to introduce young players to rhythm passing – that brand of passing in sequence that possession teams do so well. The base exercise teaches passing combinations with movement and it becomes more complex with the addition of another attacker and finally a defender.

Set up

Use a 20×15 yard grid with seven players. You need balls, bibs and cones.

How to play it

Player 1 passes to 2. Player 3 checks and receives a pass from 2 before passing to player 4. Player 3 then sprints toward either of the corners at the end opposite to where he passed, with the player in that corner becoming the new central player. The sequence then goes in the other direction.
You can progress the session by adding one-touch play in the corners; you can also add a second central player (see diagram 2); add a defender in the middle (see diagram 3), with both central attackers required to touch the ball before playing to a corner. You could also add a second central defender.


Hallmarks of success include playing with the proper foot; using nicely weighted passes; sharp receiving; early movement off of the ball; crisp turns from the central player; and constant communication.

    1. The session starts with a pass from player 1 to player 2 with player 3 opening their body to receive a pass from 2

      2. Player 3 turns and passes to 4. Player 3 then sprints toward either corner at the opposite end to where he passed. The player in the corner becomes the new central player and play continues in the other direction

        3. This progression adds a second central player who receives a laid off pass from his central team-mate before passing to one of the corner players

          4. The receiver in the centre swaps places with player 1 as the sequence continues

            5. Add a defender in the centre. The ball must be passed as before but now they are under pressure from a defender.

              6. Here player 2 has played to 3, who works with player 4 to defeat the defender and play to 5. If the defender wins the ball, he plays to any corner and play continues

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