Breathing Room

Drill Purpose

During the course of a game, there will be many situations in which players won’t have a lot of space in which to maneuver. Often a pass is received by a player who must then quickly make a decision to shoot or pass to another player. Breathing Room is a great footwork soccer drill that conditions players to become comfortable with quick shooting and ball control in congested areas. Also serving as a defensive drill, it enables defenders to practice containing offensive players and work with teammates in a defensive unit.


1. Seven players will be used in this drill. Four players will serve as defenders, two as offensive players, and one player will make the throw-ins to the offensive players. The drill will take place in the penalty area. The distance between offensive players is about 3-5 yards. Cones may be used to create goals.

2. Using a proper throw-in, a neutral player throws the ball in the vicinity of the offensive players.

3. Defensive players attempt to keep the offensive players surrounded. Offensive players look for Breathing Room by dribbling to get clear for a shot on goal. Only controlled shots are allowed – no wild kicking is permitted.

4. The job of the defenders is not to kick the ball away but to simply surround and act as a wall and harass the offenders who are positioning for a shot.

5. In order to score, a ball may only enter the goals from one direction, although there are no boundaries to the playing field. Once a team scores, players then line up behind the goals where they started and await a new drill to begin.

Points of Emphasis

Breathing Room is a simple defensive and finishing drill. Players will have their decision making abilities tested in a short amount of time. During a Breathing Room match, instruct players to…

– (defensive) communicate with each other and don’t bunch up.
– (offensive) do not hesitate to take a shot when you think one is available.
– start to get a feel for the combinations and possibilities of plays that could happen in a short time period. There are only a few scenarios that could take place in this drill so it’s easy to prepare for everything.


As players gain an understanding of the game, further variations include:

1. Using a larger playing area such as half of the field to strengthen player conditioning. Using a smaller playing area requires sharper passes.
2. Adding more defenders and/or offensive players.
3. Requiring offensive players to use both feet when taking shots.
4. Having throw-ins to offensive players land at the feet as well as the head and upper torse area.

Motivation / Teaching Tips

Tip #1 – There are many variations to this drill. The drill can be
structured for defensive players, offensive players, or both at the
same time.

Tip #2 – Encourage offensive players who have ball possession to
turn their backs to defenders and use their body as a shield to protect
the ball.

Tip #3 – Communication amongst players is critical and fellow
teammates must do a lot of talking to help a ball carrier under stress.

One Response to Breathing Room

  1. Jacob Anze July 31, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    Breathing room drill has really help my players in there play mostly in holding on to tbe ball in congested area…

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