The loft pass: how and when to use it

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

This type of pass only works when it is done to perfection.  If not, it risks being a give-away and others will wonder why you even bothered making this attempt.  Be sure to practice this often in training and once you become quite good at it don’t hesitate to put it into action.  

The key here is to drop the ball directly behind a defender. Even if he jumps in the air to head the ball away, he won’t be able to intercept the ball. The ball isn’t a cross or chip shot. Instead it can be a short or long distance loft pass meaning is lobbed like a rainbow. It’s a more delicate pass that can still be short or have some have some distance on it.

Be sure not to lob the ball too high otherwise you risk it being intercepted. This pass is most effective in the offensive third of the field when the pass is made by a midfielder intended for a forward who is either running down field behind defenders or across the back line.

If the loft pass is done to perfection it can become a most deadly weapon. Zinedine Zidane often made this pass. When I saw him play live in Toronto he made at least three lob passes. Each pass was perfect as it went just over the defenders head (who was either running backwards or jumping and could still not touch the ball) and it landed perfectly on the foot of the player at the receiving end.  Zidane often did this pass across his body.  He would be in the middle of the field with his body slightly facing the right side.  Then out of nowhere he would loft the ball behind the opposing teams right back (or in other words across to his left side).  It caught everybody (but the receiving player) by surprise.

Many midfielders don’t incorporate the loft pass into their repertoire. I encourage players of all levels to develop this skill. Once you become good at it, you’ll be able to surprise all players and spectators with this pass.  This pass creates plays out of nothing.  Think about it…if you have a secret pass that can surprise anybody, why not perfect it?  And even if a defender sees you making this attempt you’ll still have the advantage because with the right accuracy and weight on the ball nobody will be able to intercept it.

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