Passing in soccer is one of the most foundational techniques each player uses. Understanding how to pass the ball effectively can set you and your team up for success. Over the years, I’ve practiced this technique for more hours than I can count and want to share what I know with you.
To pass a soccer ball effectively, you need to point your standing foot towards your target as you kick the ball with the inside of your foot. Then, ensure you follow through with the foot that strikes the ball after making contact with the ball.
The most important thing to learn about passing a ball is the basic passing techniques and how to perform them correctly.
Passing is more than just hitting the ball. It is about how you place your standing leg and maintain your body balance.
In this guide, I’ll explain each critical factor that every soccer player must pay attention to.
I’ll also take you through all of the main types of passes used during a game and explain how you can perform each one accurately and effectively.
Best Technique for Passing a Soccer Ball
Soccer is a team sport, and to win games, you need to work together with your teammates. To successfully work together as a team, it is essential to make precise passes from one player to another.
Soccer has progressed as a game with incredible speed in recent decades. Today it is a dynamic sport dominated mainly by teams that can get the ball under their control and keep possession.
Scoring a goal in a soccer game is usually the result of the cooperation between several players of a team.
Studies show that the most successful teams have between 88% -90% successful passes during games. This statistic clearly indicates how important this aspect of the game is.
So let’s go through the steps necessary to pass a soccer ball.
1. Point Your Standing Foot Toward Your Intended Target
Many beginners believe that the kicking foot is all that matters when passing a ball, but you need to pay special attention to your standing foot.
To be precise, pay attention to the direction it’s pointing.
It helps if you always aim to point your standing foot toward your target. It will increase the accuracy of your pass, as your kicking foot will naturally follow along the direction.
The truth is, a poorly positioned standing foot will require additional effort from the rest of your body to send the ball to your target.
In addition, do not place your standing foot too far from the ball. Instead, you should put it right next to the ball as you make the pass.
2. Bend the Knee of Your Standing Leg
You also need to focus on the knee of your standing leg.
Bending your standing leg slightly before passing will allow you to have better body balance. This will directly influence the accuracy of your pass.
As you place your foot to make a pass, focus on ensuring that your standing leg is slightly bent rather than straight. This helps your body adjust to the ball’s movement and your kicking foot.
3. Pass With the Inside of Your Foot
Next comes the part where you make contact with the ball.
For the majority of the time, you will want to kick the ball with the inside of your foot. That is the curved part on the inner side of your foot.
Making contact with the ball here provides the most control and accuracy for the pass.
However, different passing techniques require using other areas of the foot.
Focus on practicing passing with the outer and laces part of the foot as well, so you can use various passing techniques during the game. That way, you will not limit your passing skill.
In 99 percent of game situations, you will use the mentioned three parts of the foot, so focus on their improvement. But make practicing your passes with the inner side of your foot the priority.
4. Follow-Through With Your Kicking Foot
After you make contact with the ball, let your kicking foot follow through in the direction of the ball.
Follow-through will allow you to apply more power to your pass and maintain better control over it.
Going short with the swing of your kicking foot after the pass can decrease the contact with the ball.
Performing follow-through provides you with a better connection and more control over the ball, which gives more power and precision.
5. Keep Your Head up When Passing
The greatest masters of the soccer game have always been those who had a great overview of the playing field. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common mistakes of all soccer beginners when learning to pass.
Keeping your head up will allow you to assess the position of your teammate adequately and will enable you to make any last-second adjustments to your pass.
Knowing proper passing technique is useless if you are not sure where to send the ball—keeping your head down limits the overview of the playing field and player’s position, which will have a negative impact on your passing accuracy.
A clear overview of the situation on the field is essential to perform well-timed and precise passes.
6. Use Both of Your Feet to Pass the Ball
Mastering passing skill requires practicing both of your feet and not limiting your passing options just on your dominant foot.
It is better to get used to it from the start, so you develop both of your feet equally, which will allow you to have better control over the ball during the game.
Being capable of passing the ball with both feet makes you a more dangerous player on the field and is an attribute that all the coaches love.
Type of Passes in Soccer and How to Pass the Ball in Each Scenario
Throughout a soccer game, you will have the opportunity to pass the ball in several ways.
The types of passes used in soccer are:
- Side short pass
- Drive Pass
- Chip Pass
- Lofted Long Pass
- Low Driven Long Pass
- Curved Long Pass
- The Volley Pass
- The Travel
- Whipped Pass
If you can become an expert in each of these possibilities, you will always have an option to pass the ball even in difficult situations.
Let’s look at each one, and I’ll share some tips and techniques to help you master them.
1. Side Short Pass
A side pass or a push pass is a type of ground pass and, most often, a short pass.
It is considered a simple pass yet is one of the most important passing skills to learn.
It is a great tool to accomplish accurate and quick passing play, especially when playing a possession game.
When making this type of pass, key things to think about are keeping the toe up and heel down of your passing foot. In addition, the ankle must stay firm in the moment of contact with the ball to achieve better control and have more power.
It’s important to have in mind the position of your standing foot.
Your standing should be next to the ball and in pointing the desired direction of the pass. Now, the passing foot follows through as you hit the ball with the inner part of your foot with the desired pass weight.
You should strive to hit the ball in the middle.
Kicking the ball lower will lift it up while hitting it above the center will give the ball additional spin and could give it a bouncing effect.
Another vital thing to have in mind is that this type of ground pass uses the movement of the hip and not the knee, as most people think.
2. Instep Drive Pass
The instep drive pass is a pass that is slightly above the ground, one to three feet above the ground, to be precise.
It is a quick, direct low pass used for swift side change or building up a counterattack. It is extremely useful when playing on slippery or wet surfaces.
The goal of using this passing technique is to pass the ball to your teammate as fast as possible.
When performing this pass, the main thing to have in mind is to hit the ball with the laces part of your cleats, sometimes even with your ankle.
The ankle must stay firm when kicking the ball, and the standing foot is placed next to the ball with toes in the direction of the pass.
With a dominant foot, you hit the middle of the ball with the top part of the cleats.
This passing technique is unique because you need to place your knee more over the ball before hitting it. Combined with keeping your body upright, the ball should stay somewhat low and not go above knee height.
3. Chip Pass
Chip pass is a type of air pass, most commonly a short distance pass used to tip the ball over the opponent to your teammate, especially for a header.
It is beneficial when you wish to make use of limited space between opponents’ backlines.
You need to strike the ball with your toes right under the ball. This often means even scraping the ground with your studs.
This technique will generate immediate height and a lot of backspin. The goal is to “chip” the ball by sliding the foot under the ball in a somewhat swift and jabbing motion.
4. Lofted Long Pass
Use this passing technique when you need to quickly change the side of play or send the ball in front of the opponent’s goal and over the defensive line.
It is a perfect pass to send the ball fast to your teammates on the other side of the pitch.
Place your standing foot beside the ball at a 45-degree angle, pointing away from the ball. Remember that the standing leg should be somewhat further from the ball than when performing a short pass.
Now, your kicking foot should drive through the ball, hitting it with the laces area underneath the ball. This will give the ball a lot of backspin and height, which will slow the ball down as it drops.
To get extra power, lean back a little before hitting the ball, but not too much to lose balance. This should give more height to the ball.
5. Low Driven Long Pass
Use a low-driven long pass to send the ball from point A to point B as fast as possible. It does not need to go over opponents’ heads or curve the ball around them.
It is a powerful and direct pass, which players use to send the ball straight through the defensive line.
To perform the low-driven pass, hit the ball with the top of your foot slightly below the center of the ball. While performing it, you should lean both your legs away from the ball to help you get full ankle rotation.
The main difference between a Lofted pass and Low Driven pass is where you hit the ball.
Hitting the underside of the ball will result in more height but less power. Striking the ball close to the center will give the pass less height but more power.
So during the game, you must assess how much power and height you need in order to decide where to hit the ball.
6. Curved Long Pass
This technique is perfect when you need to play a hard-driven pass and curve the ball enough to go around the defender.
It can be performed as a ground or air pass and is a great solution when sending the ball to the flank for a cross.
With a traditional long pass technique, your body faces toward your target. However, to perform a curved pass, you should position yourself slightly to the side of your target.
When it comes to hitting the ball, you need to strike across the ball, from a lower end to the middle, and follow through with your kicking foot strongly across your body.
7. The Volley Pass
Use the volley pass when you need to react quickly and send the ball toward your teammate, and you do not have enough time to receive the ball and put it under control.
It also opens up opportunities to create a counterattack.
The critical thing to have in mind is to keep eyes on the ball all the time before and during the pass.
As the ball jumps off the ground, aim to hit the ball directly through its center with the laces part of your foot, or sometimes the ankle part.
It is essential to pay attention to ball movement before hitting it. It is not the same if the ball is dropping to the ground or going up.
In some cases, especially when the ball is going up, hitting the ball in the center will not do the trick. Instead, it will prevent you from performing a well-controlled pass, and the ball will often go way up in the air.
In such situations, you should hit the ball just above the center part, which will keep the ball down and prevent it from going in the air uncontrolled.
8. The Travel Pass
The travel pass is a fantastic pass option when the ball is on the side of your weaker foot and you wish to avoid using it.
It is an outside foot pass and very effective at longer and shorter distances.
The goal here is to hit the ball with the outside part of your foot, to be more precise with your three outer toes. Those three toes should be in contact with the ball when performing the pass.
Place the ankle of your foot inwards, and make a slicing kick on the ball with mentioned three outer toes.
9. Whipped Pass
This passing technique is great for crossing the ball into the penalty area quickly and effectively.
It is a quite dangerous cross pass, which can cause many problems for defenders, especially in modern soccer where we have full-backs with an extremely attacking role.
To get a perfectly executed whipped pass, you want to aim to hit the ball with the bottom of your inner part of the foot, toward your inner toes.
This passing technique is a side-on technique, so you should kick the edge of the ball. Also, remember to do a follow-through up and over the ball with your kicking foot to achieve extra spin.
For more soccer “How To” guides, check out one of my previous posts: