Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

How to pass back to a nervous goalkeeper

Watching a match a couple of weeks ago between two lower English league clubs, I heard the goalkeeper remark to his left back: “Don’t pass it back to me like that, you’re not in the Premier League now!”

The left back was on loan from a Premier League club and in his first game had given a hard pass to the goalkeeper – who it must be said has never been confident with back passes.

He likes them wide in the penalty area away from the goal and on his right foot. The young defender had used the goalkeeper to get out of a tricky situation without giving away a throw-in. It had been more like a pass to an outfield player, but the goalkeeper should be able to control the ball with one touch then kick it towards a team mate.

It is a pressure situation for a goalkeeper in youth soccer, and a pressure situation for those of us watching. If you’ve got a goalkeeper who just can’t get to grips with the back pass take the heat off them and yourself by getting your defenders to pass in the right place.

Passing so that if the goalkeeper misses the ball it goes out of play for a corner is better than passing so the ball goes into the net if its missed.

Check out the diagram of where the pass should be then watch Gary Neville pass back to the hapless Paul Robinson in an England Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia.


Do your players have skills like Manchester United? Then show them off online

If you think your players’ skills could rival the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs or Nani, and you can take a short video clip of them doing the skills then read on.

Manchester United Soccer Schools (MUSS) are running a competition encouraging aspiring footballers, aged eight to 18, to learn more skills. The 6 core skills that qualify for this are:

  1. Fake pass.

  2. Stop turn.

  3. Flick behind.

  4. Roll across.

  5. Drag back.

  6. Stepover.

The clip should show at least one of the skills and be 60 seconds long. A coach, a parent or guardian must then submit it on behalf of the player.

If you do take a video clip of one of your players, for the competition, then also send a copy to me and I will put the best ones up on my Soccer Coaching Blog.

To get you started here’s a clip showing the drag back in action and how to coach and practice it.

Robben volleys Manchester Utd out of Europe

Zinedine Zidane’s volley to win the 2002 Champions League for Real Madrid against Bayer Leverkusen is one of the outstanding examples of the skill – I was reminded of it when I saw Arjen Robben’s volley for Bayern Munich in this season’s Champions League quarter final against Manchester United. It looks easy but is a difficult skill for young players that must be constantly practiced to make it easy to do in matches when the pressure is on.

You can use the technique I have illustrated here to get your players volleying the ball. The element of surprise is vital to stop the defenders reacting to the shot. If you watch the Robben clip below you can see how the Manchester United defenders have no time to react to the Bayern Munich attacker’s shot.


  • Tell your players to keep their eyes focused on the ball and get into the line of flight.
  • Get them to use their arms for balance, imagine a strike zone in front of them and keep their head still.
  • They should plant their non-kicking foot on the ground and leading with the knee, bring the kicking leg through.
  • The leg should be slightly bent, with the toes pointing down and the ankle held firm.
  • They should strike the centre or top half of the ball with the instep and keep their head over the ball to keep the volley down.
  • Watch both the goals here and see how Zidane and Robben perform the art of the volley to score important goals then vote which one you think is best on my Dug-Out Forum here

Torres in control during training

Watching this clip of Fernando Torres in training you can see how he uses his weight and control to move past the defenders and sets himself up for a shot at goal.

This is all about using technique to create the space that he needs to get a shot in. Show this clip to any young player and they will immediately try and copy it, because it looks easy. But that’s the beauty of the move – it’s simple to watch and if your players practice it they will become good at it.

He uses the inside and outside of his foot so the defender is not sure where the ball is going. Notice how the ball is pushed away from the body when he sets himself up to shoot so he can get his foot around the ball and get power behind it to drive it at the goal.