5-Pass Rule – Now I like it

To follow on from previous blogs about questioning long held beliefs http://wp.me/p5aQfW-r and placing conditions on small sided games http://wp.me/5aQfW. For this blog I am trying to bring the two topics together.

As a novice coach asking more experienced coaches for help with what I could do at training I was told about putting a 5-Pass Rule on a game. This meant there had to be at least 5 or more passes without the other team touching the ball before a goal could be scored. I thought what a great idea. It is simple to explain and will get the players passing the ball more.

* I don’t want to confuse anyone as this isn’t the topic of this post but it is interesting to note in thinking back to my early coaching days for the purpose of this blog the vast majority of advice I got was about ways to get the players to pass more.

I started using it and quickly found some real issues

1 – Players would do meaningless very short passes to each other to rack up the five passes then attack as normal

My response – Tweak it by adding that the pass didn’t count if you passed the ball back to the person that gave it to you. Secretly I did like that the players had come up with a tactic that worked although it didn’t encourage what I wanted to see.

2 – The opposition sat back and didn’t press the team in possession near their goal because there was no real reward for doing so as still had to get five passes before they could score anyway. This meant the team in possession just did five passes under no pressure then attacked.

My response – Add a condition that all five passes have to be in the opposition’s half. This often meant that there were almost no goals scored as teams rarely got to five continuous passes in the opposition half.

Another response – To help I tweaked the rules and said that the five passes in the opposition half didn’t have to be one after the other but as long as five passes were made in opposition half before you scored it was OK to pass back into your own half to keep the ball. This helped but as you can imagine caused some disagreements as to how many passes had actually been done.

Yet another response – Was to make it that the goal had to be scored on the 5th pass or between 5 and 10 passes. Neither of these worked really as scoring on the 5th pass was very difficult and both often made the players make poor decisions because they were running out of passes.

3 – Players would be in great goal scoring positions after 2/3/4 passes but would not get the ball or pass to someone else instead of scoring or simply score and the goal would be disallowed with a flurry of protests that ‘they didn’t do enough passes’.

I didn’t come up with a response to that last one because I suppose I was becoming disillusioned with the 5-Pass rule. I felt all I was doing was trying to find ways to make it work rather than it actually working properly so I stopped using it altogether.

Now I cannot claim that I have always followed my own advice to question everything because this was how I left it for quite a few years I simply never revisited the 5-Pass Rule. Until I read a Club Coaching Manual from the US and in it the author mentioned how he had tweaked it. He said that he made a goal after 5 or more passes worth double but a goal in less than 5 passes was still a goal.

I have used this and it takes away all the above issues which caused me to stop using it. I have added my own tweak to it at times to encourage a different sort of passing combination by reversing the points and making a goal in less than five pass worth double and a goal in more than five passes worth one.

I would very much like to hear from other coaches who have found ways to make this 5-Pass Rule work for them or any other tweaks they have made to conditions on small sided games to encourage what they want to see.

Please leave a comment or email me seanthecoach@icloud.com

Follow me on Twitter @SeanDArcy66

Till next time


3 thoughts on “5-Pass Rule – Now I like it

  1. Depends what your intended outcomes are. If possession then one I have found works well is ‘Your goal is worth the amount of passes that led up to it.’ keeps the theme and incentivises possession play without losing too much realism. Combine that with a ‘race to the finish’ darts-style scoring and you can create an exciting game with purpose.

    I.e. Both teams start with 20 points and the idea is to get down to zero. Score with a 20 pass sequence and you automatically win the leg. The score might come down to 10-1 so one team have earned the right to play more direct whilst the other may continue to focus on scoring with possession.

    I’ve used it and it throws up some good problems for the players to solve.


  2. Great post Sean!

    I think that the 5 pass rule game is great if you are using it purely as a possession retention game. Once you add the goal scoring element in then things change because you are taking away a decision making element by stopping players from obtaining a quick counter attack and even stopping them from being aware of the opportunity.

    Being able to keep posession in small spaces is important. Being able to win the ball against an opponent in small spaces is important so the game stands on its own as a valid training method.

    Again it comes back to purpose.

    One criticism of the game is that it lacks direction so the players don’t have to ‘invade’ the opponents space. I counteract this by playing ‘5 pass raid’ where each team has a half where it is trying to make 5 passes in. Once they win the ball from their opponents they must get the ball into the scoring half before then trying to make 5 passes. This encourages fast transition because they soon realise that they have a better chance of making the 5 passes while there is space and chaos because their opponents are recovering.

    Love the article!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s