There is nothing more mesmerising than a group of players who can connect and combine with each other to produce a fast-flowing, penetrative, and effective passing style of football.
Passing is an integral part of the beautiful game; it’s a demonstration of a collective understanding, technical ability and impeccable teamwork. Players work together and use the art of passing to control and develop a flow to the game, and ultimately, score lots of goals.
The instruction to pass is shouted a lot at young players and this can make passing become mundane for them. Shouting “pass it, pass it” does not embody the beauty of the 40-yard faded pass into a teammate’s feet or the level of disguise involved when enticing and committing an opponent before delivering THAT pass that pierces defensive lines. It is used almost as a blunt instrument to keep the ball away from one's own goal and to provide a very poor replicate of the adult version of the game.
We want to develop players who are brought up on knowing the value of giving a teammate the best possible pass that is accurate, weighted and timely. If we want to embrace a passing culture then we have to value the art of passing and combining with teammates.
When working with five to 11-year-olds, there may be other priorities but passing will still occur and we should insist that this is still done to a very high standard. It is a time for players to explore and experiment so they can develop their passing, and learn different types of passes, how to disguise a pass and how to deceive opponents.
Players who are slightly older can take that next step and continue to experiment and develop their individual abilities. This is an exciting time for players to increase the ways they can pass the ball. For example, the distances of passes and the power on the ball increase and more spin can be applied to the ball if needed. Working alongside knowledgeable coaches and better players at this time will help your players become more aware of their body positioning, the timing of their movements and when to make that perfectly timed pass.
The adult game relies heavily upon passing and this is perfectly understandable. However, along the way, we want our young players to have developed the individual ability to provide skilful and creative solutions to the game problems posed by a well-organised opposition. If this is our focus, our players will possess the capability to make it hard for opponents by either brilliant individual or collective efforts and that is the most exciting part. Nobody should ignore the “art of passing” as it is an integral part of the beautiful game.
Our aim is to produce a generation of players who can sprinkle this amazing passing capability with moments of sheer individual brilliance.
We would love to know how you work on the art of passing with your players. Let us know below.