Passing combinations with finishing: la trenza

Passing combinations with finishing: la trenza
Football Techniques Book

“La trenza” (plait or braid in Spanish) is a passing drill often practised in South America. These passing combinations are particularly challenging as they need good coordination between players. There are many variations of this drill. This post describes a variation involving a goalkeeper to keep it fun.


This drill requires 3 field players and 1 goalkeeper. You will need half a football pitch and cones to mark the running lanes. There are two running lanes, one at each side of the goal, with cones separated on equal distances to leave enough space to allow players to run and cross the ball to the other side of the field. If you use half of a full-size pitch, you will roughly need 5 cones per running lane. Have a look at the image and animations on this post for reference.

If you have an entire field and enough players, organise two groups running the same drill in parallel. You will need enough balls to keep the game running without wasting time.


This drill is made up of a set of passing combinations and runs. The first couple of rounds will be clumsy, but over time and with practice, players should move at speed through the field. Follow the instructions below using the animation for reference:

  • Player 2 and 3 start running in each lane, while Player 1 starts in the midfield spot.
  • Player 1 starts by passing the ball to Player 2 closer to the second cone on the running lane.
  • As soon as Player 1 releases the ball, they run behind Player 2 toward the third cone in the lane.
  • Player 2 receives the ball and then passes it to Player 3 on the opposite running lane.
  • As soon as Player 2 releases the ball, they sprint behind Player 3 toward the fourth cone in the lane.
  • Player 3 receives the ball and then crosses it to Player 1 on the opposite lane, completing the first cycle.
  • Players continue the progression, crossing the ball from side to side, changing lanes and moving through the cones until they reach the last cone by the goal.
  • The player that received the ball by the last cone passes it back to the penalty spot, setting it up for a chance at scoring. In the first cycle, as in our animation, Player 2 sets the goal opportunity.
  • The player who started from the midfield spot (Player 1 in the animation) runs into the penalty spot to shoot at goal.
  • The goalkeeper must stay on the goal line and can only move once the ball moves towards the penalty spot.
  • All players run back to the middle of the field as soon as the shot at goal is executed and swap starting positions. In our animation Player 2 moves to the midfield spot, Player 1 moves to the lane that Player 3 started from, and Player 3 moves to the lane Player 2 started from.
  • Repeat the progression and swap the starting position of players enough times to allow each player to have at least three shots at goal.

The following animation and video should clarify the instructions above.

Passing combinations - Trenza


This drill aims to improve passing combinations and understanding between teammates. Additionally, your team will practice:

  • First touch. While there are no restrictions on the number of touches players can make, players must improve their first touch to move quickly through the field.
  • Passing. Players must improve their passing technique to ensure the receiving player can easily control the ball.
  • Teamwork. This drill encourages collaboration and synchronisation between players.
  • Positioning. Players have to move on and off the ball to create passing lanes.
  • Shooting accuracy. Practising with goalkeepers requires players to read their movements and shoot.
  • Quick finishing. Players must shoot when they receive the ball to avoid the keeper closing in.
  • Goalkeeping at a short distance. This is a good drill for goalkeepers to practice saving shots from a short distance.

I hope you find this drill helpful. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. Also, if you know about other exercises or have questions, comment on our Facebook page.

Pablo Matamoros

I am a software engineer with 25+ years of experience across diverse industries. I've climbed the corporate leader over the years, which has some benefits but means I moved away from my love for tinkering with technology. So, I build the odd website or application to keep learning and stay in touch with technology. FootballTechniques allows me to combine my programming knowledge with my passion for football.

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