Soccer Through Ball Drills for Practice

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A soccer through ball drill is a drill that involves using the ball to move through players and defenders.

This drill is a good option for teams that want to improve their ball control and passing. Soccer through ball drills help players improve their dribbling skills.

Soccer Through Ball Drills

through ball is when you play the ball in between the defensive line of the other team or over their heads into the space in front of the goal.

Another player should be running through from an onside position and meet the ball. Normally, through balls aren’t to your teammate’s feet and are into the space in front of them for them to run onto.

​Before you begin training, you should always put your team through a warm-up. Physically, mentally, and through soccer. A physical warm-up has your players going through dynamic stretches, light jogs which will turn into sprinting, change of directions, and interactive movements.

​Warm Up for Drills

A soccer warm-up involves players moving around with the ball, getting touches in, and getting comfortable with it at their feet. The same should go for indoor soccer, so you should have your players wear their specialized youth indoor soccer shoes as well as their top rated socks for soccer.

Once you’re finished with that warm-up, you can take your team through a passing pattern exercise before you move on to through balls. The simple passing pattern should be pretty straightforward to begin with while still incorporating essential skills and then develop into more complicated patterns that require more skill or attention.

These coupled with some solo drills for ball control will help your team develop teamwork while still being able to focus on their own skill sets for the game.

Practicing Soc​cer Through Ball Drills

​Now that you’ve taken your team through a warm-up and some soccer passing drills, you can get into the main focus of your practice—through ball drills.

Here are a few drills you can incorporate into your practice that works on through balls:

A man is about to make a through pass in a street style soccer match

​The Through Pass Game

Set up a grid that is large in the middle and has two end zones on both ends with two small goals or a significant goal at each end. The end zones should be bordered out with cones that are about 5 yards from one another.

The team should be separated into two different teams and all of them sent to play against one another in the middle, larger grid. Each team should be defending a specific side. The only way a team can get into the end zone to score is to play a through ball between the cones to an oncoming player, who must remain onside until the ball is played.

A player who runs into the end zone can have a certain number of finishing touches. You can later progress to allowing a defender in the end zone or more players for a combination play.

​The Three Grid Game

​Create a grid large enough for the entire team to fit into. Separate the grid into three different sections. The middle grid should be about half the size of the two outside grids. Separate the team into three different teams and assign each team to a grid (one on each outside grid and one in the middle).

Once the players are all in their assigned grids, give the ball to one of the outside grid groups. Their task is to pass it amongst their group and then play a through ball to the opposite outside group across the middle grid without the ball being intercepted. The middle group, however, will create some pressure on the ball—sending one or two players into the outside grid to steal the ball.

The group in the middle is also allowed to intercept the pass as it goes through to the other side. If the middle group intercepts the ball, then the group that played the ball is now assigned to the middle and has to defend.

​Through and Shoot

  1. Set up a large grid standing about 20-25 yards in front of the goal with a line of cones about 5 yards between each.
  2. Split your team into two, playing possession against each other within the grid.
  3. Have the keeper ready in goal, as well, equipped with safety goalkeeper gloves for soccer.
  4. Once a team has completed 5 passes (you can always change up the number of passes), they can play the ball through to line of cones into the box for a goal-scoring opportunity.
  5. One of the team players can enter the box and go 1v1 against the goalkeeper to try and score.
  6. If you don’t have a goal keeper, a good soccer rebounder from the market will do just as well.
Two girls chasing after each other in soccer

As your team gets better at this drill, you can modify it by restricting the number of touches, raising the number of passes, adding a defender to go along with the attacking player heading to goal, and even increasing the number of attackers, like ​as if they were forwards or midfielders.

These three drills are great opportunities to help teach your team the basics of through ball drills. Adding a defender and modifying it so that the defending team is allowed to defend after the ball is sent through creates a more realistic, game-like situation.

It also helps teach your team how to deal with a through ball on the defensive side of things, as well. You shouldn’t worry if you suffer from overpronation. There are a lot of soccer cleats made for flat footed athletes.

Benefits of ​Training for Through Balls

​Depending on the style of play your soccer team prefers, utilizing through balls might be an essential aspect to scoring the goal, and ultimately winning the game.

A quality team that relies on the counter-attack to score goals must practice and rehearse the through ball. A counter-attack relies on a well-placed through ball to be played to a streaking player. When done correctly, it can allow your team to sit back and absorb the opposing team’s pressure, and then fire back on the counter. ​

Generally speaking, a team that prefers to play more of a possession style of play would utilize through balls a little less. This style of play relies on moving the ball around the pitch, working it in and out of different pockets of space in attempt to break the other team down and get them out of position.

Man preparing to kick the soccer ball

However, even a possession style of soccer play utilizes through balls now and again. The general process of playing the ball into open space is at the core of what a through ball drill seeks to accomplish.

To summarize, training through ball play will always be advantageous. Some play styles rely on the through ball, and others don’t. However, all styles utilize through balls to find space and score.

Pros and Cons of Through Balls

Simple counterattackEasy to intercept
Good for fast playersPossibility to lose possession
Convenient for weakening defensesRequires great passing
Increased chance of scoringPlayers could get caught offside

Related Questions

Here are some related questions about through balls in soccer.

Can You Practice Through Ball Drills at Home?

Yes, if you have enough space in your home, you can practice through ball drills. In fact, you can do a lot of drills at home; all you need is some time and a couple of good soccer balls.

How Can I Defend Through Balls in Soccer?

The best method to stop a through ball in soccer is to intercept the ball before it reaches the attacker. You can do this by anticipating the pass and blocking it.

If the pass reaches the opponent, you can also safely tackle the ball, stopping the attacker.

How Can I Run Faster for a Through Ball in Soccer?

You can improve your running speed by strengthening your quadriceps and hamstrings. This will allow you to run faster and reach through balls faster than before.


​I hope that these drills can help not only teach your team about the basics of a proper through ball but help them practice it in game-realistic settings so that they have the best opportunity to pull it off during the game itself.

Through balls are an extremely useful and important aspect of a soccer game and when used correctly, can be a deadly and dangerous scoring opportunity.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.

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