Soccer coaching game to encourage short passing

Play often takes place in crowded areas, compacted by the number of players trying to win the ball. In this situation, a team needs to retain possession by making use of short, accurate passes to feet. In this way, space can be created for a switch of play or a pass into space.

Often young players will panic and boot the ball, which will often either hit players or end up going straight to the opposition. Then the counter attack against your team is on.

This game is called "Over the border" and the aim is to encourage short passing, so play is quick and players try to keep the ball away from the defender. The defender must move quickly and try to win the ball by closing down and intercepting passes.

How to play it

  • The teams start in opposite "countries" (end zones) with each player, numbered from 1 to 6, passing in numerical order (1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4 and so on).
  • At any time, you shout out a number. The players with that number must sprint across the border and try to steal their opponent's ball. Both players move at the same time.
  • The remaining players do not have to pass in sequence but must retain possession.
  • The first player to win the ball or knock it out of the opponent's country wins a point, and both players return home to restart the sequence.
  • Ensure all numbers are called but don't be predictable. The same number could be called twice in a row.
  • The first team to reach 10 points wins.

How to set it up

  • Create a 50 yards long by 25 yards wide area with 10-yard end zones.
  • Have two teams of six players.
  • Use two balls.

What to call out

"Accurate passing"

"Support your team mates"

"Have a good first touch"


Call two numbers at a time to practise defending in pairs. Alternatively, put restrictions on the number of touches allowed for the passing players. If one team dominates, restrict the number of touches allowed for just that team or swap players.

This exercise is taken from Fun Soccer Games for 5 to 8 Year Olds.

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