Complete Guide to How to Pass a Soccer Ball

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Passing a soccer ball is one of the most basic elements that you need to know if you want to play soccer. If you are a newbie in the game or even if you have been playing the sport for a couple years, there is always something new to learn or time to improve on your already founded skills.

Soccer is game made up primarily of passing, and learning how to pass a soccer ball will serve you very well. We go through learning how to pass the soccer ball, but also the types of soccer passes, and all of the different ways to execute a pass.

​How to Pass a Soccer Ball

​Passing a soccer ball isn’t hard in principle, but it takes a lot of practice to get good at it. It can be a little difficult to visualize, so we recommend having a soccer ball on hand while you read through the instructions.

White soccer ball in the middle of the field

​1. Approach the Ball

​Your approach will vary depending on your situation on the field and the type of pass you’re trying to make. Know that you’ll need a longer approach if you want to make a longer, more powerful pass.

On the other hand, a quick, short pass does not require much of an approach.

Approach the ball taking into consideration which foot you’ll be using to pass with, and what part of your foot you’ll be using. The most common pass, which uses the inside of your foot, does not require very much run up.

​2. Plant Your Non-Kicking Foot

​You’ll need to plant your non-kicking foot into the ground next to the ball. For the best and most accurate pass, you’ll typically want to plant your foot on the same horizontal plane as the ball.

Planting your foot allows you to have a lot more stability as you swing your kicking leg through the ball. Sometimes, when you’re in game action, the situation doesn’t allow for planting. This is where practicing your passes really helps, so you’re able to adapt in the game.

​3. Kick the Ball through the Pass

​Move your kicking leg through the ball, making your pass. Your accuracy will be based on a variety of factors, ranging from where you kick on the ball and where you kick on your foot.

Longer, more powerful passes are typically less accurate. Shorter passes off the inside of your foot are usually more accurate.

Keep your head down as you pass, not opening up your body. Opening up your body can cause your pass to go into the air, forcing the ball to go over your target.

Your hips dictate the direction the ball will take, so make sure that they are pointed at the target.

​4. Follow Through

​Follow through with your kicking leg. You don’t want to stop abruptly, as this can affect both your pass and your leg.

Smooth follow through will help your pass stay on target, and will keep you from producing any spin on the ball.

Man in a white jersey has his leg swung back to kick the ball

​The Various Parts of Your Foot for Passing

​When you’re playing soccer, you can use various parts of your foot to pass the ball. The type of pass you’ll hit depends on what part of your foot you’ll be using.

Whether you’re crossing, playing a through ball, engaging in a give-and-go with a teammate or hitting a long ball across the field, the way you approach the ball will dictate how successful your task will be.

The most basic, and most important, is the inside of your foot. While this isn’t the easiest to master, it is by far the most important.

Related: Top 10 Physical Benefits of Playing Soccer

​Inside of Your Foot

​To begin with the most basic, using the inside of your foot is the most common pass. It can be used for passes that are five yards away to passes that are across the field.

To pass with the inside of your foot, use the inner surface of your shoe. You’ll have to turn your foot a bit sideways as your foot approaches the ball, so that you strike the ball with the inside of your foot.

Finish with a follow-up (leave your leg extended in the direction you want the ball to go).

At first, this can feel a bit unnatural, as it is more intuitive to approach the ball and kick it with the top of your foot, or your toe. However, with practice it will start to feel much more natural.

Passes with the inside of your foot are the most accurate, which is why this is a necessary skill to have. Practicing passing with this technique will help you gain more power and accuracy.

​Outside of Your Foot

​You can also use the outside of your foot, or as in Brazil, we like to call “tres dedos”, which means three toes. This is a fancier method of passing, and usually less accurate. But, sometimes it is necessary due to the way your are positioned on the field.

To pass the ball with the outside of your foot, use the outer surface of the front part of your foot. You can bend the ball, curving outward when using this pass. You’ll notice the ball might have some spin on it as you pass, which is normal because of the motion you used to kick.

Finish with a follow-up (leaving your kicking leg extended not only in the direction in which you want the ball to go but also with your toe pointed “inward” of your body).

The outside of your foot is typically used as a “dump off pass.” In other words, this is usually a short range pass to a teammate, and most often done laterally, or side to side.

Man in blue jeans and blue shoes swung his leg to kick the soccer ball

​Top of Your Foot

​Normally, you wouldn’t use your laces (the top of your foot) to pass the ball. This part of your foot is normally reserved for shooting.

You’ll get a lot of power when you kick with the top of your foot. However, when passing, power isn’t necessarily a good thing. A powerful pass is much harder for your teammate to control.

You would really only use the top of your foot for a pass when you are kicking an extremely long ball, such as a through ball to a striker making a run on goal.

​Your Heel

​You might have seen this in a professional game or two. It certainly looks fancy and, when done correctly, can be really effective. However, it is very difficult to do, especially at game speed. And, there is usually another type of pass that is available to you.

You’ll be making contact with the ball at the point where your Achilles heel is. Simply by running over the ball and starting with your foot in front of the ball, you can reach back with your kicking foot and strike the ball, making sure that your kicking leg follows-up directly behind you.

​Bottom of Your Foot

​You can also use the bottom, or sole, of your foot. When you are wearing indoor soccer shoes, this is a lot easier, because you don’t have studs on the bottom of your feet.

To pass with the sole of your foot, your kicking foot should be stopped on top of the ball, as if you’re stepping on it. You should notice that you have full control of the ball, able to roll it forward, sidewards, and backward. Use that momentum to roll it forward and then let go.

The ball probably didn’t go too far in your first time but with a little practice, you can start to get how you can add some power.

​Your Toe

​Although not mentioned before, you can use a little toe jab every now and then if you’re stretching for the ball and need to get it to another player. Know that this pass probably won’t be able to gather much distance to it but it is still a valid pass.

Toe passes are not encouraged for several reasons. For starters, you can actually injure your toes using this method. Also, a toe pass isn’t very accurate, and has a tendency to spray all over the field.

A toe pass is also a lot harder for your teammate to receive, as it usually has spin on it. Using the toe is often the easiest to start with in soccer, but you should practice all of the other types of passes right away.

​Other Parts of the Body

​We didn’t want you to leave without realizing that you can also use many other parts of your body to make a pass, as well. You can use your head, chest, thighs, and feet—even shoulders! Each will require different techniques and power.

We don’t go through how to use these various parts of your body for passing in this article, as they are each a skill set in and of themselves.

Man in a red jersey uses his shin to hit soccer ball in a match

​Hitting Different Parts of the Ball

​The success of a pass is also dictated by the part of the ball that you hit—not just the part of the foot that you hit it with. Even though you may think that the ball is a spherical shape and there possibly cannot be any difference in where you hit it—think again.

Picture how a ball looks like when you’re looking at it—about to kick it. It should like a 2-D circle. The points of contact where your foot meets the ball can change the trajectory of your pass.

Where you kick the ball all depends on what type of pass you want to make and how far you want it to go.

When approaching the ball, you can make contact with your foot:

  • Under the ball: This part of the ball is met best for chipping and getting the ball up in the air.
  • Middle of the ball: If you want to drive a pass over a long distance, meeting this part of the ball with your foot keeps the pass low and straight.
  • ​Side of the ball: If you are ready to get a bit advanced and fancy, you can curve the ball, whether outside or inside by meeting the two different lateral sides of the ball. When met with the right part of your foot, you can send the ball curving around your defenders.

​Types of Soccer Passes

​Direct Pass

​A direct pass is a simple, easy pass to a teammate. It is often referred to as a push pass because you are literally pushing the ball with your foot to your teammate.

A direct pass should be low to the ground and easy for your teammate to deal with. It should not have too much spin on it. It should have enough power to reach them, but not so much that it is tough to handle.

It is almost always best to use the inside of your foot for a direct pass. For the most part, the majority of passes in a soccer game will end up being direct passes.

​Long Pass

​A long pass is somewhat similar to a direct pass, but it is executed over a much larger distance. You will need to have a lot more power to execute a long pass. You can use many different parts of your foot for a long pass, depending on how accurate you need to be.

Often times, your teammate will have to run on to the pass, which means that you need to have some foresight as to where you kick it.

Man kicks the soccer ball from the bottom in a soccer match

​Through Pass

​A through pass happens when you kick a longer ball to a teammate that is passed “through” the defense. Typically, this happens when the teammate is running into an open space, and you are kicking it to the spot they will end up (not where they are at the time).

A through pass is sometimes referred to as a piercing pass or tunnel pass. It is the pass that is driven over the top of a defense to a streaking striker making a run on goal.

Through passes open up a defense, but are hard to connect on. They require power, precision, and accuracy from the passer, while also requiring speed and control from the teammate receiving the pass.

However, when done correctly, they can open up a game and lead directly to scoring opportunities.

​Backward Pass

​A backward pass moves the ball away from the goal you are trying to score on. It can be done while in defense, when pressure from the opposing team has closed off all advancing opportunities. It can also be done in an effort to open up new opportunities and change the dynamic of the defensive shape.

A backward pass is often similar to a direct pass, but sometimes you need to put a lot of power into the pass. It also carries risk, as you are moving the ball in the direction of your own goal. A mistake could lead to a goal for the other team.

​Give and Go Pass

​Sometimes called wall pass or a one two pass, this pass is highly coordinated, and high effective when done right. It can open up a defense instantaneously.

You will pass the ball to your teammate, usually using a direct pass. As soon as you release the ball, you sprint past your teammate, looking to receive the ball from them. The process of “giving” the ball to your teammate, and then you “go” instantaneously is how the move is referenced.

Give and go soccer is highly effective, as it is almost impossible for a defense to stop when done flawlessly. The defense will usually be a step or two behind the initial person, allowing them an opportunity to quickly move forward with the ball.

​Soccer Passing Tips

​Practice, practice, practice

Passing accurately in soccer is incredibly important, and a very valuable skill. While shooting well gets all of the publicity, a good passer is invaluable to a team.

The only way to get good at passing is to practice a lot. At first, some of the passing techniques will feel awkward. It is also difficult to get both power and accuracy at first, and that is why you practice.

Passing in practice is one thing… passing in a game is an entirely different proposition! That is also where practice comes in. The more you master your passing in practice, the more prepared you are for the game, and the easier time you will have in passing.

Soccer player in a number 22 green jersey running in a field

​Learn When to Use Each Type of Pass

​Different situations in soccer call for different types of passes. Also, different positions on the field require different types of passes. Learning these different positions and passing options will make you a better passer.

You don’t need much power for a quick, side pass. You need a lot of power for a through pass, though.

Knowing these various circumstances will make you smarter on the field, and make your passing more effective.

​Pass Often

​Many soccer players prefer the flair of dribbling a lot. However, a soccer team benefits quite a bit more from a lot of passing.

Passing moves the ball around the field quickly, opening up and exposing holes in the defense. It is a lot faster than dribbling, which means that you are much more likely to take advantage of a gap in the defense.

Good passing is also a lot harder for the defense to defend, resulting in your team keeping possession more often. Possession typically leads to more goal scoring opportunities, and limits the opposing team in their goal scoring opportunities.

In other words, passing is better all around. And the better you are it, the better you will serve your team.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, practicing your soccer passes is what will allow you to excel. Passing is a major part of soccer, and learning how to pass well will be an invaluable soccer skill for you. Practice the various types of passes so that you know how to execute each in a game.