How to Teach Kids to Spread Out & Pass in Soccer

Understanding how to teach kids to spread out and pass in soccer is important for coaches working with youth. The most successful teams in soccer are often those that know how to pass and move into space as they advance down the field. One of the most simple and effective drills for teaching passing and spacing is Team Keep Away. Use this drill to get the kids on your team accustomed to passing and moving without the ball.

Team Keep Away

Divide your team into two squads. Make sure each squad is wearing practice shirts or jerseys with a distinct color so both groups of kids can tell who they should be passing to or defending.

Use only half of the full playing field so players are forced to pass and move in a smaller, more controlled space. Mark off the boundaries of the playing field with cones. Place cones at each corner of the field and explain to the kids that there will be no goals used in this Keep Away drill.

Outline the concept of Team Keep Away for your players. The object of the game is to maintain control of the ball. To do this, players will need to spread out and pass efficiently in order to keep the ball away from the other team. A point is given to a team each time they string together a series of 10 passes without having the ball stolen by the opponent.

Have the two teams line up on opposite ends of the field. Place the soccer ball in the middle of the field between them. Each team picks one player to sprint for the ball to start the game. The race to the ball begins when the coach blows his or her whistle. Whoever gets to the ball first should immediately try to start passing with the rest of the team to get 10 consecutive passes for a point.

Keep track of the pass count and point tally for each team. Shout out the number of passes each time a player completes a pass. Announce the scoring of a point each time a team completes 10 passes.


Try using this drill on a smaller scale to get all players more involved. Create more squads with fewer players on each team and let them play simultaneous games of Keep Away on smaller fields. This way everybody gets to pass and run without the ball.


Provide positive feedback and constructive criticism rather than ridicule or insult. Remember that kids are only just beginning to learn how to play soccer. Children are more fragile emotionally than adults and may respond poorly to criticism or shouting.