How to play soccer

How to play and teach soccer
to youth soccer players

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How to play soccer...

Soccer Passing

Passing allows your team to keep possession of the ball and find holes in the opposing team’s defense. As a team, try to keep the ball moving and spread the defense, taking advantage of open spaces. The best way to accomplish this is to play one and two touch soccer.

Strike the ball with pace so that your teammate doesn't have to wait on the ball. A firm pass is more likely to arrive at its destination. In terms of teamwork, the player who is the intended target of your pass must go to the ball. At the same time though, make your teammate look good by digging out a bad pass and keep possession.


As a team, train in game-like situations, with the right kind of intensity and pressure. Anybody can play keep a way when they aren't under pressure, but only the good player can do it in a crunch.

You can recreate game-like conditions by making the areas you are playing in small so that there is constant pressure on those with the ball. Then, when you are getting the right intensity, open the game up and play in a larger area. For example, start with 8 versus 8 in the goal box and then open up into the whole half once the intensity mimics that of a game.

When you’re not training with the team, work on technique by kicking the ball against a wall. Make sure to use both your right and left foot. Keep your ankle locked and strike through the center of the ball with pace. Get your body behind the ball with a uniform strong sense of balance.

In order to become a great passer, you’re also going to need to become familiar with the different kinds of passes, and the various ways in which they are used…


Put Your Best Foot Forward

The way in which you move the ball depends on several things, such as:

  • Where it’s going

  • What you want it to do when it gets there

  • Who’s in the way, and

  • What part of the foot you use

The first three factors depend on your own strategy, but the last one depends solely on technique:

Inside of the foot: This is the most useful part of the foot to use when passing the ball. It’s the part of your foot with the most surface area, thus giving you the most control and accuracy.

Inside edge of the foot: This is the same as the above but with the upper portion of your foot to bend the ball. Wrap your foot around the ball so it curves into your teammate’s feet or into an area, as with a cross or shot.

Outside of the foot: This kind of pass is used when you want to bend the ball into a teammate or into an area. Often, your body is in a position where you can't make a simple pass. If this is the case, try to strike through the ball. Follow through with the upper portion of the outside of your foot.

Long passes: This is for driving the ball into a teammate.. If you are picking a player out, you don't need to follow through the ball. Instead, strike the ball sharply and stop your follow through just after hitting it.

By fine-tuning your skills as a passer, you can significantly increase your team’s chances of success. Your victory won’t be complete, however, unless you and your teammates learn to cooperate to control the ball…

Passing Standards

There’s an endless variety of patterns and drills that can help your team expand and hone its passing vocabulary. These, however, are the most important passing blueprints that you should be familiar with:

Give and Go or Wall Pass

Make a pass at an angle to a teammate and he or she plays the ball back to you after you have made a run behind the defender.

The key here is suckering in the defender. Let him or her get just close enough to you so they think they have a chance of getting the ball. Once they are close to you and the angle is right, make the pass and break into the open space behind the defender.

It is important for the person making the pass back (the wall) to put the right weight on the ball so the person initiating the give and go can run on to the ball and not have to break stride. This means playing the ball to the right open space and at the right pace.

There are numerous variations of the wall pass and this is the foundation for organizing an offensive support system for your team. You can play a give and go to create a scoring chance or to relieve pressure from a defender so you have time to make a decisive pass. You don’t necessarily have to get behind the defender in order to achieve these objectives.

Short Short Long

Make two short passes in quick succession and then a long pass to spread the defense or escape pressure. Try two small give and goes and then a long pass as the defense closes in on you. In soccer, your team will generally have time and space to make two, three, or maybe four passes in a small area. Then you'll need to escape pressure, so the next pass should be a switch or a longer pass that breaks from the pressure entirely. A typical play would be a few exchanges on the left with the forward and midfielders and then a switch to an open midfielder or defender on the right side of the field.

Third Man Running

Play a ball to someone, knowing that there is another teammate reading the play and running to receive this pass from the player you just played the ball to. For instance, the defender plays a driven ball into the forward’s feet because he or she sees their midfielder making a run towards the forward. Another example could be where the center midfielder plays the ball out wide to the winger or outside midfielder and the defender makes an overlapping run. The center midfielder has seen that the defender is preparing to overlap the outside midfielder and that is why he or she has made the pass.

Checking Out

Move from a certain position or area to make space for a teammate. An example would be a wide midfielder making a run into the middle because he or she sees the defender is moving up into attack.

The Overlap

An overlap is when the player with the ball plays it to his teammate and then makes a run around that player. The most common type of overlap is when the outside midfielder cuts into the middle with the ball and the outside defender makes a run down the line. A simpler run would be having a center midfielder make a pass to a winger and then run around him or her to receive the ball down the line. A good method for a player to follow is to play and follow your pace (pass and move). You don't have to follow this directive exactly but this is a good way to move without the ball.

Like the give and go, this is a stock (fundamental) play in soccer, with a number of variations.

Don’t Pass Out

The ball will never get tired. So, make the ball do the work by spreading it around the field. Always keep the other team chasing the ball and expending energy.

Play the ball into the forward’s feet, get it back, swing it to the left defender, get it back, play it to the forward, get it back and then play it in behind the defense to an on rushing winger – with an amoeba-like progression up the field. Of course, ideally there could be one or two passes and you're running at goal.

There are many different styles to play and yours depends upon your team makeup and the current score of the game. In general, vary your game. If you just won the ball back after fighting for a while to get it, don’t make a risky pass. Get the ball to your play maker and try to compose your team. However, if you see an opening, like someone making a great run towards goal, play the ball through. You can accomplish this by getting the ball to your play makers. You’d rather have them make those decisions and that type of pass, rather than, say, an outside back. So, when a defender wins it, he or she is looking to get the ball to the play makers—the central midfielders.

Remember that often, at the start of the game, both teams are playing with great energy, so you might need to just clear your lines and send the ball long out of the back. Then, as your team gets more comfortable, you can try to build out of the back. Or, you might want to make a statement when the game starts, so you send the ball long to your winger who is breaking down the line, and then try to close down the other team right from the kickoff. This puts them on their heels and gets your team right into the game and in their half of the field.

The important thing is to mix things up and keep your opponents guessing. By making quick, firm and unpredictable passes, you’ll be well on your way to that game-winning goal

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