Monkey In The Middle

Using the concepts from the classic game of “monkey in the middle”, we can create a simple but effective soccer drill, which can also be used as a warm-up before games. This drill will teach players how to move to open space, think ahead, and pass quickly.

Monkey in the Middle Soccer Drill


  • Organize players into groups of 7, where 5 players are offensive and 2 players are defensive.
  • One ball is needed per group.
  • The offensive players will form a small circle around the defensive players.
  • One offensive player will start with the ball.


  • The first pass is free. After the first pass is made, the objective is for the offensive players to keep possession of the ball within their circle, a game of keep away from the defensive players, the monkeys in the middle!
  • The defensive players need to work together to take possession of the ball. This can be done by intercepting a pass or by breaking up the play.
  • The offensive player who lost possession will become the monkey in the middle. The defensive player that has been in the middle longest will then replace that offensive player.
  • There will be instances where the offensive players tend to spread out their circle a little too much, making it very difficult for the defensive players to ever gain possession. Make sure players keep their circles close and not to spread out.

Coaching Tips

  • Instruct players to stay on their toes, ready for the next play.
  • Offensive players should move to open space, always giving the player with the ball more than one option for a pass.
  • Since defensive players are at a disadvantage in terms of numbers, instruct them to force the play in one direction. This will hopefully help them intercept a pass or cause an offensive player to make a mistake.


  • If you are short on the number of players available, instead of using groups of 8 players, meaning 5 vs 2, you could use groups of 4 players, meaning 3 vs 1.
  • As players’ skills advance, you can restrict the number of passes to 2 and then to 1. You can also restrict a pass to the player adjacent to you.
  • To create a little motivation, have the offensive players count how many times they can pass the ball through the defensive players. Have the offensive players count how many passes they can perform in a row before possession is lost. If a certain number of passes is reached, the defensive players will have to do push-ups or sit-ups.