Applicability: Warm-up passing activity suitable for all ages (u8 and up) and levels. You can also precede this activity with Soccer Pong!
Area: 25 x 25 yards (W x L) or larger, depending on how many players you have.
Activity: Put players in pairs with a ball. Set up a number of 1.5 yard gates randomly arranged in your grid. The size and number of gates can vary depending on the number of pairs of players you have and their skill level. I would start with at least as many gates as pairs. Players score a point for each completed pass they make through a gate to their partner. Go for 30-45 seconds and have pairs keep count of how many points they get. See how many they get and ask how the top pair got so many. Get them to demonstrate. Repeat. Switch partners. Repeat.
Regressions: If your players are struggling with this game, make the gates bigger. The objective is simply to get them passing with their partner. You should always start an activity so that everyone can quickly find success. Once they understand the game, that’s what you can start to make it progressively more challenging.
- Add restriction that players must use a certain foot or surface of the foot to make a pass and score a point
- Replace some of the gates with pinnies (or different colored gates) and say that pairs must go through a cone gate followed by a pinne/bib gate
- Make the gates smaller
- Reduce the number of gates
- Introduce a bandit (or pair of “bandits”) whose job is to stop pairs from scoring in gates. Change the bandit(s)
- For advanced groups, mandate that the pass must go “over” the gate (chip pass)
Guided Discovery Questions:
- What do partners need to do to be successful at this game? (See what they say, ask why, get them to demonstrate)
- What is the best distance between partners so that you can be most efficient? (See what they say, ask why, get them to demonstrate)
- What types of things can you communicate to make it easier for your partner? (See what they say, ask why)
- How do you know where the open gates are? (See what they say, ask why, get them to demonstrate)
After you have added progressions:
- How has this game become more difficult? (See what they say and ask why)
- What do you need to do to score more points? (See what they say and ask why)
Numbers considerations: Rather than creating two grids, just make your current grid larger to accommodate greater numbers of players.
Additional notes: Sometimes players will stand either side of a gate and just pass the ball back and forth. I love this! This means that they are using their brains! Rather than berate the pair that does this, celebrate them for doing the smart thing (remember, you gave everyone 30-45 seconds to get the ball through as many gates as possible). However, after you praise them, now tell the group that they cannot go back and forth through the same gate. Take this approach as players come up with new and innovative ways to scam the system! Simply modify the rules so that the players are forced to adapt.