Combination Play: The Wall Pass

The wall pass is a two player combination play and one of most effective ways to penetrate organized defences.What makes it so effective, is the quickness of the movement. It does not allow the opposition time to get re- organized, especially in small spaces.

Every coach would love to have players with the ability to beat an opponent to automatically create numbers up.

Unfortunately these type of players are rare, and teams alternatively have to rely on passing combinations like the wall pass in order to :

·create numerical superiority

·advance the ball

·get in dangerous spaces for a shot on goal

·keep possession of the ball.

It's almost a must for quality midfielders and strikers to recognize the wall pass situation on the field and being able to use it when required.

Where and When to use it

Although this combination play can be used on any part of the field, generally it is most effective when in the middle or attacking third of the field. The wall pass can be used to achieve the following objectives:

· To deliver a shot on goal (combination between the strikers centrally at the top of the box).

· To advance the ball (between a midfielder and a striker) in the attacking third, centrally.

· To penetrate in wide areas for a cross (between an outside midfielder and a striker).

In order for this combination to succeed, it is important that there is a synchronized common thinking between the ball carrier and the supporting player. Sometimes young players do not recognize this two-player combination play, and they prefer to engage in individual efforts that usually end with loss of possession.

The Execution

For the wall pass to be successful, both the ball carrier and the supporting player must be aware of the following key factors:

Ball Carrier

  • Recognize that this combination is on.

  • Be able to commit the direct defender.

  • Take into account the movement of the supporting player.

  • Provide a quality pass to the supporting player.

  • Accelerate to receive the ball in the space behind the defender

If the situation would warrant a wall pass, the ball carrier would approach the direct defender at the right distance. Not too close (to be intercepted) and not too far (element of surprise), and then decide to pass the ball to an oncoming supporting teammate.

Which passing technique is the most appropriate?

Passing the ball with the outside part of the foot closest to the supporting player is the most effective technique when the distance of the two players (passer and receiver) is close.

For greater distance and accuracy, the inside part of the foot furthest away from the supporting player would be used.

After the pass the player must accelerate to the space and direction most appropriate to receive the ball.

Supporting Player.

In regard to the role of the supporting player, the main key factors are:

  • Creation of space for himself by loosing his marker by a counter movement of checking out then in (check-off movement.)

  • Timing of the approach to the player with the ball.

  • Angle of support

  • Quality of the pass, back to the running path of the passing player.

The wall pass is the maximum expression of communication and cooperation between two players

in team play. Coaches should introduce this combination play as part of their passing and receiving training program.

Table 1 explains the didactical path for the teaching the wall pass and in particular the timing factor of this skill.

Table 2 lists some of the key components of this skill, and a full session to train it.

Table 3, is an observation card I have designed to be used by the coach to see how a particular player or players rate in the execution of the skill.

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To see the above session plan click here