drills for backpassing

drills for backpassing

Have a team of older group of ladies who need to learn to pass the ball back, any good drills for this?

trudy adamson, New Zealand
Jon RoyceCoach, England

Hi Trudy,

With an older group of experienced athletes they will need to know why they need to pass the ball backwards. A great deal of passing backwards is done because people think its good hockey. They`ve seen it on the TV and therefore it must be good. The internationals or top club players usually are doing it for a specific purpose.

Before I answer the question, which I`d be delighted to do, can you explain why you want the ball passed backwards? When I understand the need I can then advise.

There are strategic, tactical. psychological and physiological reasons for passing backwards at the correct times. Why specifically are you keen to add this pattern of play to your team`s performance?

trudy adamson, New Zealand

Hi Jon,

They are trying to beat the player and getting the ball taken off them or do something wrong and get the whistle, when they could pass the ball to a free player square or back pass. Have had them running at a defender and stopping and passing back or putting a player square to pass to at our practice but in a game they go back to trying to beat the player.. Any ideas greatfully excepted, as we are giving away to much ball..


Jon RoyceCoach, England

Hi Trudy,

Ok, so this is essentially an issue of retaining possession.

Players in possession face the following scenarios.

  • A situation when they can pass the ball to a better placed colleague
  • An oveload situation when they will look to play 2 v 1
  • A 1 v 1 situation with space to exploit behind the defender
  • A situation where they are outnumbered

When outnumbered (or potentially outnumbered) the golden rule is not to make it easy for your opponents by carrying the ball into contact, this makes it easy for your opponents because you are reducing the amount of space and therefore time you have to make a decision. The chances of you seeing options: especially those backwards are dramatically reduced. Encourage your players to move on angles staying out of the reach of opponents.

One way to practise this is to play four versus four or five versus five between the 25 and half way. A goal is scored by crossing your opponents line, Rugby style. The rules are you must run an angle prior to passing. This often creates some flow to the play and opens up space.

In wishing to retain possession the secret is support ahead of the ball, ironic when the objective is to pass backwards. By ensuring players support ahead of the ball it forces defenders to cover the forward passes opening up space for a cross field transfer. The rule: threaten forward prior to considering a pass back.

The purpose of passing backwards is to change the point of attack and create an overload on the other side of the pitch. To help the players grasp the concept and practise transfer. Create a box (15m) on both wings. 2 v 1 in each box. Have a sweeper that runs to help the outnumbered defence on the right wing. When the sweeper arrives and the numbers are balanced (2 v 1 (plus the sweeper 2 v 2) the job of the players in possession is to switch the ball through a centre midfield position to the left wing and try and play 2 v 1. If the sweeper arrives, transfer again. The sweeper will sooner or later be late to arrive. Transfer (passing square or backwards) has a purpose and is attacking in concept.

Finally, make a note of the times the ball is transfered in match play and set a target: a performance objective based on a process.

Good luck

Hockey CoachCoach

Hi Trudy. I explain that the team must create links. Game of triangles. Your team should know who`s backing them up. They must let the ball carrier know they`re available - plenty of talk. I have possession games at trainings so there is no focus on scoring goals. I teach them to carry the ball around on their fore stick (turn their back on the opposition) and pass back to their team mate. Then get into a better position to receive the ball back. Tight 3man weave drill is helping. Encouraging overheads is fun and exciting to try something new. I have never seen a team so happy. It really is about confidence and teamwork to break the bad habits of carrying the ball into defenders and losing possession. Sounds like too many individuals in your team or complete lack of confidence. Explain what you want the team to do. Half hour possession only game half field or less. Blow your whistle stop play. Ask them what their options were and discuss which option may have been better. They will get it. Just slow it down and work as a team. You`re just steering the ship. They must work together. Goodluck :)

Answered using Sportplan on Mobile

Login or Join Now for FREE to post your answer


  • search our library of 1000+ hockey drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans


Use our expert plans or build your own using our library of over 700+ drills, and easy-to-use tools.



See the whole archive of questions.



  • search our library of 1000+ hockey drills
  • create professional hockey coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested hockey plans

Sportplan App

Give it a try - it's better in the app

YOUR SESSION IS STARTING SOON... Join the worlds largest hockey coaching resource for 1000+ drills and pro tools to make coaching easy.