High-intensity passing circuit

by Pablo M27th Oct 2021

Drill created with Tactics Manager

Playing a possession game is pointless if you do it at a slow pace. You may keep the ball but won’t be able to break through the opposition defence. This passing circuit will help your team to create combinations at speed.


You will need about a quarter of an actual football pitch, 1 cone, 3 mannequins (or agility poles) and 1 ball. Set the circuit as shown in the picture above.

This drill is designed for 4 players. However, you can have up to 4 groups (16 players) running this drill simultaneously. Use this drill as a link between your warm-up and a global training exercise.


This passing circuit is made up of 3 main stations marked by each mannequin. Each player is identified with a different colour in the animation below to help you understand the exercise. The progression is as follow:

  • The red player starts with the ball in the cone while the other players wait beside each mannequin.
  • The red player passes the ball to the blue player waiting by the first dummy and sprints towards mannequin 2.
  • The blue player turns around and passes the ball into the empty space behind the mannequin. Immediately after, the player starts sprinting to mannequin 2.
  • The red player receives the ball, passes it to the black player and runs back and around mannequin 1 to take the position that the blue player has left empty.
  • As soon as the black player receives the ball, they turn around behind mannequin 2 and pass it to the grey player.
  • When the grey player receives the ball, they quickly pass it back to the black player and sprint behind mannequin 3 towards the cone that marks the circuit’s start.
  • As soon as the black player receives the ball, they kick a long pass towards the cone that the grey player will pickup. Then the black player sprints to mannequin 3.
  • The grey player receives the ball from the black player and runs behind the cone to restart the progression.

Have a look at the animation and videos below for more clarity.

Run this circuit for about 10 minutes while keeping the intensity. Ask players to keep moving from station to station. Do not aim at getting a smooth transition between stations. Instead, focus on continuous movement as fast as possible. This exercise will be messy the first time you execute it but will get better as players get the idea and rhythm.


The focus is on passing and automating movements. This drill will develop the following skills:

  • First touch. Players must improve their first touch to move quickly through each station.
  • Speed and reaction. Once a player passes the ball, they must sprint to the next station and be ready to receive the ball. This requires quick reaction and speed.
  • Game awareness. While players move on the field, they need to be aware of their teammates and the ball at all times.
  • Automating combinations. The combinations executed in this drill will be automated by players so that they will perform them in a game without thinking about it.
  • Fitness. Players cover an extensive area of the pitch while quickly stopping and starting.
Passing circuit progression