Pass through the thirds

Start & organisation

  • Split group into three teams as shown
  • The middle zone is the ‘defending’ zone; the team here is trying to intercept any pass through this zone. If they do, they swap with the last team to touch the ball

Timings: 20-30 minutes
Pitch area: Large rectangle with narrow middle strip
Other rules: N/A


  • Make the area bigger or smaller
  • Make the middle zone bigger or smaller
  • Limit the number of touches players can take before passing, or limit passes to below knee height only

What to look for

  • Are the defenders working together to close the space for the attackers to pass through?
  • Are the defenders furthest away from the ball moving closer to their teammates to close the space?

What the coach can do

  • Demonstrate how the other defenders can move to close the space
  • Encourage the attackers to try and move the ball quickly, to incentivise the defenders to move quickly to close the space