What Do We Mean by the Mixed Passing Game?

What You Will Learn:

What is required if we are to develop the passing game

  • A good pitch
  • Reasonable technique
  • A willingness to learn
  • Tactical awareness - movement and positioning to help the person with the ball

You should now be familiar with two key issues. Space, and how to use Time to find space. The next stage is to look at the way the ball is moved between spaces. This is usually by a pass. Football is essentially a simple game based on giving and receiving of passes. On average, four out of five times when a player has the ball he will pass it. These passes can be long, short, lofted, etc. Playing the ball long at every opportunity was a tactic used by Ireland under Jack Charlton as well as teams such as Sheffield United and Wimbledon. As we shall see, this tactic was limited. However, many teams in rejecting it fell into the trap of over playing using too many short passes. Successful teams use a mixture of long and short passes to exploit time and space.

It is not a question of believing in short passing as opposed to long passing, it is a question of combining the best of both. Terry Venables.

The mixed passing game also reflects a desire to pass and move and create space. The long ball game has often resulted in a more gladiatorial (physical) soccer as teams constantly battled for the fifty/fifty ball this tactic generates. A description of this type of game follows (football in the 1990s).

If you look at the build up to goals or general team play you will find that passing makes up the vast majority of the game. Other skills, such as running with the ball and skill on the ball are important, but none so important as passing. Terry Venables points out that brains and good passing are as effective as trying to go past defenders

Passes can be long or short. It is the choosing the correct pass that determines if a team is successful. Tord Grip believes that a team needs to know when to play short through midfield and when to release the long ball and when and how to change the nature of attack.

These passes can be played quickly to exploit available space, or slowly to attract the opposition to the ball and create space elsewhere. The best way to draw players in will probably be a short pass, the best way to exploit space on the transition may be a long ball.

The easiest attacking tactic is to pass the ball in the space between the opposition's back four and their keeper for a forward to run onto. If this option is available in any game it should be taken. Therefore, using a long ball option is fine (on a bad pitch it may be the best tactic). However, as we shall see, using the long ball game as the dominant tactic throughout a game is limited: good defences don't allow you to deliver balls into this space.

Passing is a two way process. Without tactics to determine player movement and good communication a player will not have the full range of passing options.

The mixed passing game is a tactic in which the ball is played long and short and regularly out from the back. It relies on a team/players being aware of a number of tactics - how to switch the ball, bounce the ball, and the angles of passes and runs. They need to be aware of the movement that is required to offer options. It relies on players being confident and not afraid to fail. All successful teams, at all levels, play the mixed passing game.

Extra Tips

  • Defenders need good technique to play the ball out from defence
  • The whole team attacks and defends

Return to Advanced Soccer Tactics Preview Navigation Page