Passing to progress play

Graeme Dell, 29 Aug 2023


This exercise allows players to work on their directional passing and to improve their overall passing ability.



  • Use one half of the court.

  • Divide the court into three zones.

  • Mark out one end zone 2m from the goal line.

  • Mark out the other end zone 3m from the halfway line.

  • The middle zone should be approximately 18m in length and account for the majority of the playing area.

  • Position a goalkeeper and a pivot from each team in each end zone.

  • Create a 3v2 scenario in the middle zone.

  • One player from the team with a numerical disadvantage waits outside the playing area and only joins play when their team gain possession. 


  • The game should be end to end, and play should be fluid.

  • The in-possession team have a 3v2 numerical advantage at all times. 

  • Each team aim to pass the ball from one end zone to the other. 

  • Play starts with the goalkeeper, who can pass the ball to any team-mate in the middle zone. Each member of the in-possession team must touch the ball before play can be progressed into the end zone. 

  • If the out-of-possession team win the ball back, they gain the numerical advantage and play continues from that point.

  • One member of the team that is now out of possession leaves the playing area.

  • There are no restrictions on the number of touches allowed.


  • Variation 1: if a team play the ball into the pivot, they retain possession and try to transition to the opposite end zone. 

  • Variation 2: goalkeepers play in the middle zone to work on their passing and ball control skills. 

Coaching points 

  • Players must look after the ball, as a failure to do so can result in their team losing their numerical advantage and struggling to win the ball back.

  • Forward passes should be considered a priority, as they allow players to progress play more quickly through the zones.

  • Given their numerical advantage, it should be easier for the members of the in-possession team to create and open up passing lines off the ball.

  • Intelligent and constant movement can serve to disorganise the opposition, who find it hard to pick players up when facing a numerical disadvantage.

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