How to Pass a Soccer Ball: Tips for Success
Last updated on July 15th, 2023 at 11:50 am
Learning how to pass a soccer ball is one of the first and most important skills every player should master.
Passing is an essential part of the game that can help accelerate a player’s success for years to come.
When we think of passing a soccer ball, we just think of kicking it from point A to point B but there’s more to it. The effectiveness is in the details.
Knowing how to pass a soccer ball effectively can help your team create more scoring opportunities, maintain possession of the ball, and control the pace of the game.
It is noticeable to watch players and teams that know how to pass effectively. Ultimately, these teams typically have to run around less as the ball is pinged with precision up the field. Each player who touches the ball is just a sequence of the overall play. It is fun to watch!
In this article, we will explore different techniques and tips for passing a soccer ball, as well as the different types of passes and when to use them.
How to Pass a Soccer Ball (Step-by-Step)
When it comes to passing a soccer ball, how and where you place your foot makes all the difference. In fact, the position of the foot can affect the accuracy, power, and direction of the pass.
Here are some tips on how to position your foot for the perfect pass:
- Plant Foot: The plant foot is the foot that is stationary and provides balance and stability during the pass. It should be placed next to the ball, pointing towards the target. The closer the plant foot is to the ball, the more accurate the pass will be.
- Passing Foot: The passing foot is obviously the foot that makes contact with the ball. It should be placed behind the ball, with the toes pointed down and the ankle locked. The part of the foot that makes contact with the ball will depend on the type of pass being made. We’ll address the different types of passes further down in this article.
- Body Position: The body should be facing the target, with the shoulders and hips squared with each other. This helps generate power and accuracy in the pass.
- Weight Distribution: The weight should be distributed evenly on both feet, with slightly more weight on the plant foot. Your plant foot will feel like it’s digging into the ground a bit. This will help maintain balance and stability during the pass.
A soccer player should always be aware of their body position in relation to the ball and their intended target.
The following tips can help ensure proper body positioning:
- Plant foot: The plant foot should be placed slightly behind the ball and pointed towards the target. This provides stability and helps guide the ball in the right direction.
- Hip and shoulder alignment: The hips and shoulders should be aligned with the target. There should be a direct path from the passer to the intended receiver. This allows for a more accurate and powerful pass.
- Body angle: The body should be angled towards the target. This allows for a better view of the target and helps guide the ball in the right direction. There will be times when a player needs to turn and shift their entire body to make that angle.
It is important to note that body positioning can vary depending on the type of pass being made. For example, a long pass may require a wider stance and a more angled body position compared to a short pass.
Additionally, the player should always be aware of their surroundings and adjust their body positioning accordingly. For example, if there is an opposing player blocking the intended receiver, the player may need to adjust their body angle or use a different type of pass to get the ball to their teammate.
Players need to adjust accordingly based on the situation that arises. Being a robot and following the mechanics to a T will do players a disservice.
Striking the Ball with Different Areas of the Foot
There are several types of passes that can be used depending on the situation. Sometimes a pass needs a remix to be effective but more times than not you’ll find these common types of passes in soccer.
Using the Inside of Your Foot to Pass
The most common type of soccer pass is one made with the inside of the soccer cleat.
To execute this pass, the player should point their plant foot towards the target and use the inside of the foot to strike the ball.
The player should follow through with the kicking foot after making contact with the ball. This pass is typically accurate and easy to control, making it ideal for short to medium passes.
For the golfers out there, think of a put and the fluid motion it takes to make the ball go straight. This is the same type of motion for a pass on the inside of the foot.
Using the Outside of Your Foot to Pass
The outside of the foot pass is used when the player needs to pass the ball quickly and accurately over a short distance.
For instance, if a player is dribbling at an opponent and needs to lay a pass to the right, the player will use the outside of their foot. In this case, they won’t need to turn their body and waste precious time.
In order to execute this, the player should point their plant foot towards the target and use the outside of the foot to strike the ball.
The player should follow through with the kicking foot after making contact with the ball. This pass is useful for changing the direction of play or for passing the ball around an opponent.
A pass with the laces of a player’s cleat is used when a ball needs to go the distance.
To execute this pass, the player should take a few steps back from the ball (or run toward the ball). As they approach the ball, the planted foot should dig into the ground and be used as leverage. Subsequently, the player will strike the ball with power.
The player should follow through with the kicking foot after making contact with the ball. This pass is useful for switching the play from one side of the field to the other or for playing a long ball to a teammate in a scoring position.
Passing Techniques for Soccer Players
There are different types of passes that players can use depending on the situation. In this section, we will cover three types of passes: short passes, long passes, and through passes.
Short Soccer Passes
Short passes are used to maintain possession of the ball and create opportunities for teammates to move forward.
A player should use the inside of their foot and focus on keeping their body squared and eyes on the target.
It’s important to keep the pass low and accurate to prevent the opposing team from intercepting the ball. Or, making it easier for a teammate to receive it as a bouncing ball is more difficult to continue the play forward.
When passing, a player should communicate with their teammates by calling out their name or using nonverbal cues such as pointing or eye contact. This will help the receiving player anticipate the pass and move into position to receive it.
Long Soccer Passes
Long passes are used to move the ball quickly up the field and create quicker scoring opportunities.
To execute a long pass, a player should use the instep of their foot to pass the ball over a long distance. The player should keep their body over the ball and follow through with their pass. It’s important to aim the pass accurately and with enough power to reach the intended target.
As youth soccer players advance in their age groups, players should consider the wind direction, field conditions, and the position of their teammates and opponents when making a longer pass.
Like any pass really, they should also communicate with their teammates to ensure that they are in position to receive the pass.
Through Passes in Soccer
Through passes are used to create scoring opportunities by passing the ball through the opposing team’s defense.
This type of pass often requires another element from a player. Field awareness, vision, and anticipation are key components to identify opportunities to make a through pass.
To execute a through pass, a player should pass the ball between defenders to a teammate who is making a run towards the goal.
The pass should be made with enough speed and accuracy to reach the teammate before the defenders can intercept the ball.
When attempting a through pass, a player should consider the position of their teammates and opponents, as well as the speed and direction of the ball.
Why Soccer Passes Shouldn’t Bounce
The most common mistake I see when passing is letting the ball bounce. Luckily, this is an easy fix. But’s important to understand why passes should bounce.
First and foremost, a bouncing ball is more unpredictable compared to a ball played on the ground. It can take unexpected bounces and be difficult for the receiving player to control. This can lead to turnovers.
Second, a bouncing ball is slower than a ball on the ground. When a ball bounces, it loses momentum and speed. This means that the receiving player will have to slow down to control the ball, giving the defending team more time to close in and apply pressure.
Third, bouncing passes are more difficult to execute accurately. When a player tries to bounce a pass, they have to hit the ball with the right amount of force and at the right angle. This requires a high level of skill and precision, which can be difficult to achieve under pressure.
Every short soccer pass should be played on the ground. It should be a habit to instill at a young age. This will provide more accuracy and make it easier for the player’s teammate to receive it.
Receiving a Pass in Soccer
Receiving a pass in soccer is just as important as passing the ball. In order to receive a pass, the player must be aware of their surroundings and ready to receive the ball at all times. It’s always advantageous for players, especially midfielders and strikers, to scan the area around them.
The player should position themselves in a way that allows them to receive the ball without having to move too much. This means that they should be facing the direction of the pass and have their body positioned to receive the ball.
When receiving a pass, the player should use the inside of their foot to cushion the ball and bring it under control. This allows the player to maintain possession of the ball and make their next move.
It is equally as important to keep the ball close to the body when receiving a pass, as this makes it harder for the opposing team to steal the ball. It also provides the receiving player an opportunity to make another quick pass or dribble.
If the pass is coming in with a lot of speed, the player should use the momentum of the ball to cushion it and slow it down. This can be done by directing the ball slightly to the side and allowing it to roll across the body. The player can then bring the ball under control and make their next move.
Communication is key when receiving a pass. The player should communicate with their teammates to let them know where they want the ball and what they plan to do with it. This allows the team to work together and maintain possession of the ball. This can be calling out their name or a hand gesture to let them know you want the ball.
Soccer Passing Drills
Passing drills are an essential part of any soccer player’s training regimen. These drills help players improve their passing accuracy, speed, and decision-making abilities.
Here are some passing drills that players can practice to enhance their skills.
Wall passes are simple yet effective passing drills that players can practice individually. To perform a wall pass, a player passes the ball against a wall and then receives the ball back.
This drill helps players improve their first touch, passing accuracy, and ball control. Players can also practice different types of passes, such as one-touch passes and two-touch passes, to enhance their passing skills.
Here’s how to perform a wall pass:
- Stand about 5-10 feet away from a wall.
- Pass the ball against the wall using the inside of your foot.
- Receive the ball back with the inside of your foot and control it.
- Repeat the drill, alternating your feet and practicing different types of passes.
Triangle passing is a passing drill that involves three players.
This drill helps players improve their passing accuracy, movement off the ball, and communication skills.
Players can also practice different types of passes, such as through passes and diagonal passes, to enhance their passing abilities.
Here’s how to perform a triangle passing drill:
- Set up three cones in a triangle shape, about 10-15 feet apart.
- Have one player stand at each cone.
- The player at one cone passes the ball to the player at the next cone.
- The player at the second cone then passes the ball to the player at the third cone.
- The player at the third cone then passes the ball back to the player at the first cone.
- Repeat the drill, alternating the direction of the passes.
Coaches can also add variations to this. For example, have each player pass to the cone and follow their pass so they are constantly moving towards the next area.
Passing relay is a passing drill that involves multiple players. This drill helps players improve their passing accuracy, speed, and teamwork skills. Players can also practice different types of passes, such as long passes and short passes, to enhance their passing abilities.
Here’s how to perform a passing relay drill:
- Divide the players into two teams and have them line up facing each other.
- Give a ball to the first player on one team.
- The player passes the ball to the first player on the other team and then runs to the end of their team’s line.
- The player who receives the ball then passes it to the next player on their team and runs to the end of their team’s line.
- The drill continues in this manner until all players have had a turn.
An element of competition can be introduced into this type of drill. The first team to go through the line twice wins (something). Or, the losing team does 10 push-ups.
Best Passers in Professional Soccer
Sometimes it’s good to model professional players as they are on TV and have mastered the fundamentals.
The following players have the ability to deliver accurate passes with precision and at the right moment, making them valuable assets to their teams.
Here are some of the best passers in soccer:
Lionel Messi: The Argentine forward is not only one of the best goalscorers in the game, but also one of the best passers. His ability to find his teammates with precision passes and through balls is unmatched.
Kevin De Bruyne: The Belgian midfielder is widely regarded as one of the best passers in the game today. His ability to play both short and long-range passes with accuracy has been a key factor in Manchester City’s recent success.
Bruno Fernandes: The Portuguese midfielder has been a revelation for Manchester United since joining in January 2020. His ability to play through balls and find his teammates with accurate passes has been a key factor in United’s recent success.
Luka Modric: The veteran Croatian midfielder is still one of the best passers in the game today. His ability to control the midfield and find his teammates with accurate passes has been a key factor in Real Madrid’s recent success.
Toni Kroos: The German midfielder is known for his ability to control the tempo of the game and find his teammates with accurate passes. He has been a key player for Real Madrid and the German national team.
Joshua Kimmich: The German midfielder is known for his versatility and ability to play in multiple positions, but his passing ability is what sets him apart. He has been a key player for Bayern Munich and the German national team.
By watching professional matches, players can model the behaviors of some of the best soccer players in the world.
Of course, have your own style but pick the fundamentals out of these players. Watch how they move, how they see the game, how they pass short and long, and how much confidence they have on the field.
Passing a soccer ball is easy. Passing a soccer ball effectively takes hours of training and understanding the fundamentals to master.
By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, players can improve their passing accuracy, speed, and power.
For youth soccer players, passing is an essential skill that should be a priority for all players.
Players should focus on developing their passing skills through regular practice sessions and gameplay. They should also watch and learn from professional players who have mastered the art of passing. By incorporating these tips and techniques into their training routines, players can become better passers and contribute more effectively to their teams.
Frequently Asked Questions
In soccer, a pass is a deliberate attempt by a player to transfer the ball to a teammate. The objective of a pass is to move the ball closer to the opponent’s goal or to create scoring opportunities for the attacking team.
The inside of the foot is the primary way to pass the ball. You can also pass from the outside of your foot or the laces of your cleats.
Yes, it is important to look at the ball when passing in order to ensure accuracy and control. By keeping your eyes on the ball, you can better judge its speed and trajectory, as well as anticipate any obstacles or defenders in your path. However, it is also important to be aware of your surroundings and other players on the field, so you can make quick decisions and adjust your pass if necessary.