Passing Backwards

I coached each of my kids’ soccer teams from about ages 5 to 12. As the kids got older, we shifted from simple skill development to learning positions and strategies. But one concept that I never could get across was the value of passing the ball back. You see, when a soccer team is moving down the field on offense, sometimes their best move is to pass the ball back to a teammate who can redirect the flow of the attack. For kids, it’s counterintuitive to purposefully kick the ball in the opposite direction from the goal. But doing so is often exactly what a team needs in order to improve its chances of scoring.

Sometimes the best move that a leader can make is to pass the ball backwards. This is often just as counterintuitive for the leader as for a 10-year old soccer player. Here are three reasons why soccer players pass back, and why you should consider it as well:

  • You pass back when you’ve encountered opposition. It’s better to pass back and lose a few yards than to lose the ball completely. As a leader, you may be able to press forward in the face of difficulties, but at what cost?
  • The person receiving your pass can see the field much better. Since this teammate isn’t surrounded by defenders, he or she has a clearer perspective. In the same way, you need colleagues who can offer a different point of view.
  • Redirection may yield better results. Passing the ball back isn’t a retreat – it’s a chance to shift the offense’s attack. You may also need to try a different approach to accomplish your ultimate goal.

If you feel like you’re running into a brick wall with your current efforts, is it time to pass the ball backwards?