Long passing is an extremely useful technique and an important soccer skill that players should master!
They enable the player to quickly change the side of the play. That way you can get rid of opponents’ pressure and remove the threat of losing the possession of the ball.
With a long pass, you can exploit the empty space behind opponents’ defensive line, swiftly changing the direction of your attack and creating a chance for teammates up front.
They also are the most used way of creating counter attack opportunities!
In this article, I breakdown what it takes to master this important skill …
Drills to improve long passing in soccer …
First, you have to pay attention to a couple of points:
- Body position. You have to be slightly leaned back, and approach the ball at an angle. That way you can put more power into your shot if needed.
- Kicking foot. Your ankle must be firm, in a fixed position, while striking the ball with the top of your foot, to be more precise with your laces.
- Non-kicking foot. You should position it next to the ball, slightly behind.
- The ball. You are kicking the bottom half part of the ball. That lifts it up and makes long passes possible.
Long passing is a skill that requires constant work and you can always look for a way to improve it.
Numerous training drills are available to you to accomplish this …
1. Long pass to the box
This is the simplest drill to set up, yet very effective!
- Mark the box area with cones. This is the target area.
- Position yourself at a distance of 30 yards from the area.
- Your goal is to send the long ball straight to the marked area.
- As you are processing with the drill, gradually make it more difficult by increasing the distance to the marked zone, or by making the square area smaller.
Setting the drill to be more challenging will gradually enhance your passing ability.
The goal of this drill is to improve your long pass accuracy. With repetition of this drill you will develop mental memory of the conditions in the drill and it will allow you to play the pass with great precision during the game.
Also, one additional tip to make the drill challenging and maybe more fun for you …
… Instead of marking the box area with cones, set the bucket!
Your goal is now to send the long ball straight to the bucket. This is a much more difficult situation, but after doing this, sending the ball to your teammate’s position is now a greatly easier task.
2. Long pass under pressure
- Divide the players into two marked areas.
- One area has three players with the ball in their possession and one player trying to put pressure on them.
- Other area is set slightly further, and it represents the target area with one player whose goal is to receive the long ball.
- Three players with the ball must pass to each other and keep the possession of the ball, while the opposing player is trying to intercept it.
- With short passes between them, they must establish a good position inside the limited area for sending the long pass to the target player.
This is one simple drill with so many chances for improving players’ abilities.
Besides improving long pass precision and strength, there are several additional benefits…
… Because of the pressure from the opponent, players passing the ball around are learning how to keep possession and at the same time create necessary open space for them to make long passes.
This also increases their awareness of surroundings and communication between them.
This improves their long passing ability also, as they are learning how to send the long ball under the pressure, so they are improving their reaction speed.
You can also make a drill more complicated with putting another player in the middle, between the areas.
This way, you are putting extra pressure on players passing the ball, as any long pass that lacks accuracy or power, now has more chance to be intercepted.
3. Moving target
This drill aims to improve players’ passing into the open space and creating a play for their teammates.
Practicing this is essential for players with the playmaking role on the field!
- You are positioned in a mark and limited area.
- Target player is moving around the opponent’s goal, around the mannequins, trying to position himself for the pass receiving.
- Your goal here is to predict his movement, assess all the alternatives and make the right decision.
Here you improve your long passing precision and power, and your decision making ability.
You can make the drill more complicated both for you and the attackers, by inserting one defender into the play.
This will make the long pass task more challenging for you, and also it will help the attacker practice his movement.
Best cleats for long passing
Adidas Predator (Check it Here on Amazon) are one of the best soccer cleats for midfielders that you can find on the market today, as they are made to be comfortable and designed especially for passing, dribbling and shooting.
The upper part of the boot is made out of premium synthetic leather, covered with what Nike calls it, “speed ribs” texture.
This allows a better fit and friction, which enhances the ball manipulation and passing precision. In order to achieve the same precision control in wet and dry conditions, Nike added All Conditions Control (ACC) technology.
This technology enables constant friction between cleat and the ball, no matter what are the conditions on the field.
This Nike model is particularly effective when it comes to long passing, because it has a low toe box, which makes kicking the long distance pass more appealing.
This is ideal when it comes to quick switching of the play or giving fast, through passes.
Do you need to improve short passing first?
Before improving your long pass, you should perfect your short passing first!
Unlike long passes, short passes require less strength and you can practice them at early ages. Long passing drills come later as you gain strength in your shot.
As you work on your short passing, you gradually increase physical aspect of passing and create a foundation for learning long passing skills.
Improving short passing first is also important when it comes to pass precision!
It is easier to hit the target at 5 yards distance, then at 50 yards. Your precision practicing should start with simple drills, made for short passing, and you progressively improve your ability.
Soccer Positions that require long passing skills
Passing skills, including long passing, is essential for central midfielders!
Their role is often playmaking, so passing ability is crucial for this task. They use long passes as a tool to send the ball behind opponents’ defenders and make a play for their forwards in the empty space up front.
Long passing is important for defenders, particularly wing backs. They use long passes to quickly change the side of play and remove pressure from one side to the other.
Also, they are a vital part of attacking moves from the flanks.
Their role is to make a cross to the side and to send the ball into opponents’ box, often with long passes to the far post.
How much time does it takes for noticeable improvement?
Around 1 month of regular practice is required for developing basic long passing skill, but notable improvement will be visible after 3 months of training drills.
Training sessions should include at first practicing long passing distance, then precision with passes into empty space.
As you progress, the drills should become more complex and gradually advance toward game-like scenarios, with making long passes at limited space and under opponents’ pressure.
Types of long passes to be aware of …
One of the most common uses of the long pass is side-by-side pass!
The goal of this move is to send the ball to the other side of the field, removing the pressure from your area.
Side backs often use this, and it is a part of the opening phase of attack.
You are not only removing the pressure away from you, but you are also stretching the defending team, quickly creating a chance to use some open space of the field.
Lob pass is the right tool to send the ball over the defender, either straight to your teammate or to the open space behind the defensive line.
This can be used as a way to overcome the narrow defensive line of your opponents, as this is a great way to easily send the ball over the defenders into an empty area in front of their goal.
Long through pass is actually a ground pass, which is supposed to be fast and powerful.
This is due to the fact that it goes right through the defensive line and can easily be intercepted if done poorly. The most common use of this kind of passing is during counter attacks.
Does this help corner shooting abilities?
Being good at long passing does not necessarily mean you will be good at corner kicking!
But keep in mind, that long passing ability is a predisposition of great corner taking. Of course you must first improve your long passing technique before you start taking corners.
After all, aren’t corners just long passes from a corner of the field? But that will not immediately make you exceptional at taking them.
As corner passing is actually a pass into the space full of defenders that are expecting your kick!
To be a useful corner taker, it is not just a matter of passing precision, but also a matter of tactical knowledge!
You have to understand the movements of your teammates, as well as the movements of defenders.
You have to develop tactical ability of anticipating and evaluating players’ motion, but also to take the position of goalkeeper into account, as he is also on guard.
Famous soccer players with amazing long passing skills
When it comes to long passing, probably there is no one better than Xabi Alonso!
He is respected for his ability to switch the play at a very fast pace with sharp long passes. He would send the ball all over the field, at a range and accuracy only few players could parry.
This ability ensured him a place in elite soccer clubs such as Real Madrid and Liverpool.
Steven Gerard is the one player who could match Xabi Alonso. He had the ability to send powerful passes from long range, allowing his teammates to make use of counter attack.
Juan Roman Riquelme was one of the best playmakers of all time. Thanks to his creativity and vision, his long passing skills allowed him to create amazing plays for his teammates.
Final Thoughts …
I am really happy that you are interested in this particular skill! For me, this tells that you have had enough knowledge and maturity allowing you to recognize such an obscure skill that not many soccer players are paying attention to …
… Indeed, by sharpening this skill you will definitely become an essential element for your team and it would be hard for your coach to find a replacement for you!
Finally, I highly invite you to learn how you can improve you soccer shooting accuracy! This goes hand in hand with long passing …