Spacing Soccer Drills (Stop Bunching)

When defending, make the space small and when attacking stretch the opposition – this is the key to winning a soccer game.

This collection of drills is my favorite type, making space and stopping bunching makes a huge difference to how you play.

After using these drills you’ll pass and move like the pros – have fun!

Soccer Players Bunching During A Game
Soccer Players Bunching During A Game ○ Soccer Blade

Spacing – Stop Bunching Drills

Pass, Move, and Shuffle: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: Pass, Move, and Shuffle
  • Age Group: All age groups
  • Session Length: 5 minutes
  • Number of players: minimum of 2 as players work in pairs
  • Skills learned: first touch, passing, and quick feet
  • Equipment: 2 cones, 1 ball per pair

Drill Setup

  • Each pair of players needs 2 cones. 
  • Place 2 cones approximately 5 yards apart to create the passing lane. 
  • Create separate passing lanes parallel to these cones for each pair of players. 
  • Each pair requires 1 ball.
Pass Move And Shuffle
Pass Move And Shuffle

Drill Instructions

  • P1 stands 1 yard to the right and behind the cone, with the ball at their feet.
  • P2 stands in a mirrored position, 1 yard to the left and behind the cone, waiting to receive a pass.
  • P1 plays a firm, right-footed pass along the ground to P2. 
  • P1 then shuffles to the left side of the cone and waits for the return pass.
  • P2 takes one touch to shift the ball from the left to the right side of the cone, before playing return pass to P1.
  • P2 then shuffles back to the left side of the cone. 
  • P1  takes one touch to shift the ball from the left to the right side of the cone, before passing it to P2 
  • In the first and second rounds, allow 3 touches. In the third and fourth rounds, allow only 2.

Drill Variations

  • Switch starting positions to focus on opposite foot passing.
  • Increase the distance between players to improve passing accuracy, control, and range. For this drill, the maximum distance between players should be 15 yards.

Progressive Passing Drill: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: Progressive passing drill
  • Session Length: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Age Group: 10+
  • Number of players: 10 to 12
  • Skills learned: Passing, movement, awareness, 
  • Equipment: 6 cones, 1 ball

Drill Setup

  • Create a 20-yard, 4-cone square grid. Split the grid into 2 sections using 2 more cones.
  • Elect 8 players to perform as attackers, and 2 as defenders. 
  • P1 and P2 stand outside the grid on one end, with P3 and P4 outside the grid on the other end. 
  • P5 and P6 begin inside the grid on one side, with P7 and P8 on the other side. 
  • D1 occupies the same space as P5 and P6. D2 occupies the same space as P7 and P8.
Progressive Passing Drill
Progressive Passing Drill

Drill Instructions

  • Throughout this drill, all players must stay in their designated spaces.
  • Players cannot pass the ball through any section. The ball must travel through each individual section to score. 
  • On the coach’s signal, P1 starts by playing the ball to P5 or P6. 
  • P5 and P6 work together to play the ball into the next section to P7 and P8. They can play the ball back to P1 and P2 to recycle possession.
  • When P7 and P8 receive possession, they work together to play the ball to P3 and P4. They can play the ball back to P5 and P6, but not back to P1 and P2.
  • D1 and D2 (in black) tackle, block, and try to regain possession. 
  • If the defenders win back the ball, the attackers must restart with P1 and P2. 
  • Each time the attackers successfully play the ball from one side to the other, they score a point. 
  • Run the drill for 2 to 3 minutes then rotate player roles. 

Drill Variations

  • Add an extra defender to both center sections. 
  • Create competition by tracking how many points each group scores. 
  • Reduce or increase the size of the grid to accommodate players’ skill levels. 
  • Limit the number of touches per player inside the grid. 
  • If attacking players are struggling, instruct the defenders to play passively with no tackling. 
  • This drill is designed for 10 to 12 players but it can be scaled up or down depending on numbers. Consider increasing the size of the grid if you have a large training squad. 

Channel Possession: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: Channel Possession
  • Session Length: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Age Group: 12+
  • Number of players: 10 (minimum)
  • Skills learned: Passing, movement, positioning, counter attacking 
  • Equipment: 10 cones, 1 ball, 2 goals 

Drill Setup

  • Use approximately half the length and the full width of the field for this drill. 
  • Extend the penalty box lines by placing cones all the way from the edge of the penalty box to the halfway line (or end of the playing field). This creates 3 separate sections (1 left, 1 center, and 1 right).
  • Set up 2 goals. If you have goalkeepers, use full-size goals. If not, small goals are fine.
  • Divide the team into groups of 5 outfield players. 
  • 5 attackers and 5 defenders occupy either end of the field. 
  • If you have goalkeepers, assign 1 goalkeeper to each team.
Channel Possession
Channel Possession

Drill Instructions

  1. The objective of this drill is to score against the opposition. However, the attacking team can only score if they have at least 1 player in every section. This encourages players to create space and use the entire width of the field. 
  2. The defending team must stay in the center section. 
  3. Encourage attacking players to switch the play where possible, creating space on the wings. Attackers can rotate positions freely. 
  4. If the defenders win possession, they are now the attacking team. They should counterattack quickly to score while the opposition is out of position. However, they must adopt the same rules, meaning they must have at least 1 player in every section to score. 
  5. The first team to score 3 goals wins. 

Drill Variations

  • Scale this drill up or down depending on the number of available players. 
  • Set time limits to score when teams are in possession. 
  • Set a minimum number of consecutive passes before a team can score. 

Piggy In The Middle: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: Piggy In The Middle
  • Session Length: 5 minutes
  • Age Group: All age groups
  • Number of players: 9 to 18
  • Skills learned: Passing, movement, positioning, blocking 
  • Equipment: 8 cones, 1 ball

Drill Setup

  • Create a 10-yard, 4-cone square grid. 
  • Split the grid into 3 even sections using the remainder of the cones. 
  • Divide the team into groups of 3. 
  • 3 groups participate at a time. 
  • 2 groups are designated as attackers, occupying the sections on either end of the grid. 
  • 1 group is designated as the defender and occupies the middle section. 
  • The attackers begin with the ball. 
Piggy In The Middle
Piggy In The Middle

Drill Instructions

  1. The objective of this drill is for the attackers to successfully pass the ball from one side of the grid to the other. However, all players must stay inside the section they are assigned to.
  2. Each trio of attackers can play a maximum of 3 consecutive passes inside their section before they must attempt to switch play to the opposite side. 
  3. If the defensive group wins possession, they switch with the group at fault. 
  4. If an attacking player misplaces a pass outside of the grid, their team must switch with the defensive group. 
  5. The team that successfully switches the play on 5 consecutive occasions is the winner. 

Drill Variations

  • Create a competition to see which group can win 3 separate games. 
  • Limit the number of touches per player. 
  • Set a time limit for players to keep the ball inside their section. 
  • Allow 1 defender to enter either attacking grid while that group is in possession.

3 Grid Positional Drill: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: 3 Grid Positional Drill
  • Session Length: 10 minutes
  • Age Group: 10+
  • Number of players: 6 (minimum)
  • Skills learned: Positioning, passing, movement, marking
  • Equipment: 8 cones, 2 mini goals, 1 ball

Drill Setup

  • Create a 20-yard long, 15-yard wide, cone grid as your playing field. 
  • Split the field into 3 even grids across the length of the field.
  • Set up 2 mini goals, with 1 on either end of the field.
  • Divide the team into groups of 3
  • 2 groups compete against each other at a time. 
  • Each team assigns 1 player to each section of the playing field, creating 1 v 1 situations across the field.
  • Designate 1 team to start as the attackers and 1 as the defenders. 
  • P3 begins with the ball at their feet.
3 Grid Positional
3 Grid Positional Drill

Drill Instructions

  1. On the coach’s signal, P3 starts the game by passing to a teammate. The defensive team allows 1 free pass to let the game begin. 
  2. Once the game kicks off, it is a live 3 v 3 game. However, all players must stay inside their assigned grid at all times. 
  3. If a player leaves their area, their opponents are awarded a goal. 
  4. Players can pass the ball the entire length of the field, bypassing the center grid if they wish. 
  5. Players can score from any position.
  6. The first team to score 3 goals wins. 
  7. If you have multiple groups, rotate teams after each game. 

Drill Variations

  • Create a tournament if you have enough players.
  • Set a minimum pass rule before teams can score. 
  • Limit individual touches to 2 or 3 per possession. 
  • Limit scoring to certain sections for a game or particular amount of time.

4 v 4 Wing Play: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: 4 v 4 Wing Play
  • Session Length: 10 minutes
  • Age Group: 10+
  • Number of players: 8 (minimum)
  • Skills learned: Positioning, passing, movement, awareness
  • Equipment: 12 cones, 1 ball, 2 goals

Drill Setup

  • Create a 20-yard long, 15-yard wide, cone grid as your playing field. 
  • Create a channel, 3 yards wide, on either sideline using cones. 
  • Set up 2 goals, placing 1 on either end of the field. 
  • Divide the team into groups of 4. 
  • 2 groups compete against each other at a time. 
  • Each group designates 1 player to occupy their right-sided channel. No other players are allowed to enter the sideline channels. 
4 V 4 Wing Play
4 V 4 Wing Play

Drill Instructions

  1. The coach elects 1 team to start with the ball. 
  2. On the coach’s signal, the drill goes live. The teams compete in a regular 4 v 4 game, with each team trying to outscore the other. 
  3. The designated channel players can move along the sideline but they cannot leave the channel. 
  4. The other players may not enter the sideline channels. 
  5. The teams are encouraged to use their wingers to set up attacks, creating overloads and crossing opportunities from wide areas. 
  6. The first team to score 3 goals is the winner. 
  7. Mix up teams after each game. 
  8. If you have enough players, create multiple teams and rotate them between games. 

Drill Variations

  • Switch wingers to the opposite side, focusing on attacking from the left sideline.
  • Introduce a rule, forcing teams to pass to their winger at least once before they are allowed to score. 
  • Set a minimum pass rule before teams can score. 
  • Limit individual touches to 2 or 3 per possession. 
  • Set a scoring time limit for attacking teams.

Soccer Blade has more than 100 drills – for more go to our soccer drills page. If you need equipment for your soccer drills, check out our soccer equipment page.

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