Fun passing drill for football: The Box

by Pablo M02nd Sep 2019

Image by CC BY, Marco Verch

As little boys we learned football by playing with a ball on our own, our parents or a couple of friends. Simple and fun games taught us the basic skills we needed for the game. Later in life, some of us joined a club or an academy and things got more serious. Unfortunately, often coaches miss the point and forget about the spirit of the game: to have fun. I am not talking only about kids coaching, football training should be an enjoyable experience for all ages and levels. This post will discuss a fun passing drill that will make your training sessions a more pleasant experience.


The Box gets its name from its setup: two boxes in where two opposite teams play a small football game. The first box is the defense area of a team, the second box is the whole pitch.

The setup is easy. Use a set of cones and small goals to create a 7 aside or 5 aside pitch. The number of players will depend on the size of your squad. Having a squad of 20+ players turning to training is unrealistic for amateur teams. You could play this game with as few as 2 players per side.


The main objective of this drill is keep possession of the ball by using accurate passing and good positioning in the field. The basic rules of the game are:

  • Players are allowed only 3 touches (e.g.: 1 touch to control the ball, 1 touch to change direction and 1 touch to pass the ball).
  • There are two phases when in possession of the ball: defensive possession and attacking possession.
  • To move into the attack phase, a team must complete the defensive phase. The defensive phase is done when 5 consecutive passes are completed in the team’s defensive half of the field.
  • Once the defensive phase is finished, the team in possession moves into attack. In this phase, a team is allowed to shoot to goal once a total of 10 passes is completed. This number includes the 5 passes done when defending. A key difference with the defence phase is that passes in attack can happen anywhere in the field.
  • The count is restarted once a team recovering the ball completes their first pass. If a defending player touches the ball but doesn’t complete a pass and the ball goes back to the attacking team, the attacking team can continue with their telly of passes.

There are some variations to this game that you may want to consider. Often a conflict between teams is that a player stays in front of the small goal all the time, so a variation is to delimit an area around the goal where nobody can step in. Another interesting variation is to allow the team that scores unlimited touches of the ball, the opposition must score to reestablish limited touches and score again to gain free touches. You can also use bigger goals and goalkeepers.

Be creative and add your own rules. The main point is that the game has to keep the spirit of passing the ball among teammates, forcing players with individualistic characteristics to plays as a team.


Although in the surface this game seems only like a fun passing drill, it actually teaches a few important lessons:

  • Accurate passing. The rules of the game focus on passing. You can only score after completing a given number of passes. Therefore, the only way of winning in this game is by players improving their passing technique.
  • Accurate finishing. Because the game is played with small goals, it encourages clinical finish.
  • Players have to play as a team. Although individual skills play a part in the game, limiting the time players can hold the ball forces everyone to play as a team.
  • Transitioning from defence into attack in an orderly manner. The only way to move into attack is by passing the ball in defence instead of hoofing the ball away.
  • Players positioning. In order to keep possession of the ball, and increase the passes count, players have to move in a block and be close to each other.