Passing is used to get the ball to your teammates, which means it shouldn't be too difficult for them to get to and control/receive the ball you send their way. Therefore, good passing technique usually resides in giving the ball moderate speed and moderate (or no) spin. In theory, there are 3 methods used for passing: ground push, cross, air lob.
When passing, the inside of the foot is almost always used. However, most people tend to quickly get their foot into normal (toe pointing forward) position when shooting, resulting in you hitting the ball with a weird combination of inside, toe and laces. So, remember to really keep your foot almost at a 90 degree angle with the normal position at the moment of hitting the ball.
This is the simplest and most used one. It isn't necessarily a shooting technique, as it's more like pushing the ball straight to your teammate. To do it, follow these steps:
- Place the planting foot right beside it, at a good distance (rather too close than too far away though).
- Swing to the ball, hit it with the inside of your foot, not really with your foot or toes, but with the part of your ankle. This keeps the ball as straight/curveless and low as possible.
- Optional improvement detail: Move your foot a bit upwards, so that your toes point up. This really stops the ball from going up, and gives it that slight curve often seen in soccer.
- Follow through then doesn't really matter, but it's best to create the habit of always following through very well.
Crossing the ball is used when trying to get the ball from one part or side of the field to the other. Around midfield it's used to switch the play from left to right or vice versa, and sometimes from one side to the other AND forward (diagonally). Close to the opponent's goal however, it's used to swing the ball into the box from the left/right, to the head or foot of your teammate. It goes like this:
- Run to the ball at an angle. Running straight to it, makes it very hard to create good spin and height, as you impede your own ability to swing.
- Crosses need to have height, either a bit or lots of it. Therefore, place your non-kicking foot a bit before the ball (closer to yourself), so that you lean back when you hit the ball. But remember to keep your shooting technique the same, so that you still get good contact. This leaning back, makes you scoop the ball a bit, and together with a nice follow through into the air, this gives the ball some nice height.
- Swing, and hit the ball with the inside of your foot. This time, you don't want to use the part close to your ankles, but rather the part of your foot between ankle and toes. This is the biggest part with the most surface and control.
- When you first hit the ball, you hit it more at the bottom, at the 'corner' closest to you. Then, as your swinging continues, you move your foot upwards to hit the top far-corner just before the ball is released from your foot. Because of the angle of the run-up and your touch, you should have enough contact time with the ball to do this. However, because we want some nice spin and height, follow through is really important here.
- As you're striking the ball, turn your whole (upper) body with your swing, so that at the end of the shot, you're facing your target in all ways possible.
- So, what your foot is basically doing, is curling around the ball while hitting it, so that the ball takes over this curve when it's struck. But, make sure you're not striking it too much to the side to get the curve, as this really messes up your shot.
- Additionally, you'll want to play around with the amount of curve and height. Hitting the ball more with the toes results in higher shots, with less curve. If you have a lot of curve, you might consider making your non-kicking foot point a bit beside the target to make up for it. If you don't get enough height, follow through more and lean back more.
A lob pass, is a straight pass through the air, with some backspin. So, it has no (sideways) curve, which makes it easier to predict and place well, and it has a bit of backspin to make it go quite high and down again quickly. 'Why don't they use this all the time then?', you might wonder. Well, there are two sides to the story: being easier to predict, makes it easier to receive and control for your teammate, but also easier to defend or block. On top of that, it's a bit harder to pull off. So here it goes:
There are actually two techniques, and one is often called chipping and the other lobbing the ball. With chipping, you count on hitting the ball with the right part and positioning your body correctly to make it succesfull. It also has a lot of backspin, and less speed. When doing a lob pass, you're basically trapping the ball between your toe and shin and taking it with you in the swing, and then releasing it when your follow through has ended. This creates a straight ball, high in the air, (relatively) very fast, and almost no spin. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, you can decide for yourself which you like or use (chipping is discussed in the shooting section though).
- Lobbing requires a straight run up (or 90-degree turn towards the box when performing it if you're going for some cross-lob combination, but that's a lot harder to do).
- Place your planting foot right next to the ball. With a lob, you're going to want full control over the ball until you release it. Therefore, putting the non-kicking foot too much before it gives you a great chance of having the ball bounce off your foot when trying to perform it. At the other end, placing it too much behind the ball makes it impossible for you to get the ball up into the air.
- Now swing your leg at it, while your toes are pointing down. You'll want to control the ball with the laces. But, you don't want to shoot it, so try to get your toes back pointing forward once you've hit the ball, so that it stays on your laces.
- Then you follow through as much as you can and keep your toes pointing forward. At a certain moment (though the later, the beter), the ball will fly off your laces, and into the air.
- If you want the ball to go high, simply try to get your foot as high as possible on the follow through. If you want the ball to mainly go forward (and fast), lean forward a bit on the follow through, and land on your kicking foot to help yourself. You might also try keeping your toes pointed a bit more downward, but that might go wrong and result in a blazing fast shot.