Passing Combinations and Aerobic Fitness

By Jebreel Bubtana

The following exercise and progression will work on your player’s aerobic fitness whilst using a ball. It is important to incorporate the ball into fitness exercises, as this will ensure that your players are working on their technique as well as their fitness during exercises.

Set up the field as shown below in figure 1 in a 30x30 yard area. Depending on the age of your team, you can make the area smaller. The gates made by the discs are 5 yards apart. You will also need to split your team into four groups, with each group having one ball.


The idea with this exercise is that all 4 groups link together with passing in an anti clockwise direction. The exercise starts with the player who is standing in the middle of the gate checking to their right and opening their body up so that they can see their team mate who is about to pass them the ball and also see player to their left who they will pass to next (figure 2).


The player who has just checked now receives the ball with their back foot, which in this case would be their left foot. He then passes to the player in the next group as shown by the arrow and then follows their pass. The player who made the first pass now moves to the middle of the gate. All four groups must do this at the same time (figure 3).


The players will now end up looking as they did at the start of the exercise but with individuals in different positions on the field (figure 4).


After the players end up back in their start positions twice, you can get the player in the middle of the gate to check to their left, which means that their back foot will be their right foot. You can also get them to do the exercise in a clockwise direction. CHallenge your team by having them start playing in an anti clockwise direction and then on your whistle they must now pass in a clockwise direction. This will challenge the player’s communication and organizational skills as a team.


The progression starts in the same way as described previously with the player in the middle of the gate checking to their right. They now perform a give and go as shown by the arrows. The player who started the exercise will now make the pass to the next group and he will then move to the middle of the gate. The player who was in the middle of the gate now moves to the next group (figure 5). Make sure that you get your players to check to their left after they have been round a couple of times.


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In this progression it is important that the player who is checking to either side opens their body up in the same way as they did previously so that they can see where the ball is coming from and so that they can see the player in the next group. When they check to their right, they will use the inside of their left foot to pass the ball back for the give and go and the opposite when they check to their left.

It is important to emphasize timing to your players in the whole exercise. At no point should a player have to wait for a pass. By performing this exercise at a high intensity with the right timing, your players will be working on their aerobic fitness and their passing technique.

Coaching Points:

  • Ensure that the correct passing technique is used. Your players must strike the middle of the ball when passing in order to keep the ball on the ground. If the ball goes in the air, it will slow the exercise down.
  • Players must move at the right time and the passes must also be made quickly as soon as a player has moved to ensure that the high intensity is kept throughout.
  • Communication is key to let your teammates know when you want to receive the ball.

Jebreel Bubtana
Director of Marketing and U8 Programs at BRASA Brazilian Soccer Academy
NSCAA Advanced National Diploma
NSCAA Director of Coaching Diploma
Follow me on Twitter @jib1989

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