What Is A Rondo In Soccer | Definition, Benefits & Drills 2024

Rondo drills have become important in soccer training all around the world.

One particular drill that has become popular lately is called “rondo, derived from the Spanish word for “round”.

It’s a training exercise that focuses on moving the ball quickly, making good decisions, and keeping the ball even when there’s pressure from the other team.

This guide is meant to help coaches understand rondo drills in soccer better and see why they’re important.

It also gives some favorite drills and games that can be used in training sessions.

This article will give you a good understanding of what rondo is and why it matters in soccer.

What Is A Rondo In Soccer?

What Is A Rondo In Soccer | Definition, Benefits & Drills

Rondo drills are popular in soccer training.

They’re training drills that help teams get better at keeping the ball even when the other team is putting pressure on them.

The basic idea is that one team has more players than the other, which makes it harder for the team with fewer players to get the ball back.

In simple versions of rondo, like 4v2 or 3v1, the team with more players tries to keep the ball and pass it around without the defenders taking it away.

These drills help players make quick decisions, pass accurately, and move well without the ball.

There are more advanced versions of rondo where the teams are bigger and players have specific roles, like a 7v4 rondo.

In these drills, players have to stay in their positions, look around the field, and make smart passes to keep the ball.

This helps players improve their awareness of space, how they play their position, and their first touch in tight areas.

Rondos are used by coaches at all levels of soccer because they have a lot of benefits.

They help players get better at passing, receiving the ball, and controlling it even when there’s pressure.

Rondos also encourage teamwork, communication, and understanding of how the whole team moves together.

Plus, they can be changed to fit players of different ages and skill levels, so they’re flexible and can be used for all kinds of training.

Who Created Rondo?

Laureano Ruiz, a coach at the Barcelona Youth Academy in the 1970s, is widely believed to have come up with the rondo drill.

He had a big impact on how players at Barcelona developed during that time by using these innovative training methods and focusing on rondos.

One of the players who was influenced by Ruiz’s coaching style was Johan Cruyff, a legendary figure in Dutch and Barcelona football history.

When Cruyff played for Barcelona under Ruiz’s coaching, he was greatly influenced by the rondo-style activities and drills that focused on positions.

When Cruyff became a coach at Barcelona in the late 1980s, he took these ideas further and include them in a more advanced player development philosophy.

Cruyff’s coaching philosophy, which focused on positions, first touch, knowing where to be on the field, and moving the ball quickly, turned out to be successful.

When he was Barcelona’s coach from 1988 to 1996, Cruyff won 11 trophies, including the club’s first-ever UEFA Champions League title in 1992.

Pep Guardiola, who is one of the most famous and successful football managers today, was directly influenced by Cruyff’s coaching legacy.

Guardiola went through the Barcelona youth system as a player and learned from Cruyff’s teachings. He embraced the ideas of positional play and rondos.

As a coach, Guardiola carried on the tradition started by Cruyff.

He used a possession-based style of play and includes rondos a lot in training sessions.

The impact of Ruiz, Cruyff, and Guardiola on Barcelona’s style of play and the widespread use of rondos and positional play coaching has had a big effect on the modern game.

Many coaches have adopted their approaches, and they have become really important for developing players all around the world.

What are The Benefits Of Rondo’s In Soccer?

Rondos have a lot of benefits for players, no matter how old you are or what your skill level is.

Getting better at receiving the ball under pressure: Rondos give you plenty of chances to practice receiving the ball when defenders are trying to stop you, just like in a real game.

Improving how you see and understand the game: The drills are fast and happen in small spaces, so you have to pay attention to what’s going on around you.

You have to look for passing options and predict where your teammates and opponents are going to move.

Getting more creative with your passing: It helps make you think differently and come up with clever ways to pass the ball and keep possession, like using fancy moves or delicate chips to get around tight defense.

Learning how to support your teammates: You have to keep adjusting where you are and make sure you’re in a good position to receive a pass.

This helps you work well with your teammates and communicate effectively.

Understanding how to position yourself on the field: More complex ones, like the ones designed by Pep Guardiola, can help you understand where you should be on the field and what your specific role is.

This makes you better at knowing where you should go and how to move around.

Giving defenders a chance to work together: The drills aren’t just good for attackers.

They also let defenders practice working as a team, talking to each other, and learning defensive skills like pressing, marking, and supporting each other.

Making training fun and competitive: The drills feel like real games, so they’re fun for players of all ages and skill levels.

The challenge of keeping the ball and playing against your teammates and opponents makes rondos exciting and enjoyable.

Types Of Rondo Drills

They are lots of rondo drills and variations depending on how the coach wants to drill his players, but these 5 drills are my favorites

  • 2v2+2 Drills
  • 3v1 Monkey In The Middle
  • 4v2 Drills
  • 4v2 Switching The Play
  • 4v2 To Goal
Definitive Guide To Soccer Rondos

2v2+2 Drills

The “2v2+2 Rondo” drill promotes quick thinking, combination play, and the utilization of support options.

It also improves players’ ability to create and exploit overloads in different areas of the field.

The inclusion of neutral players adds an extra layer of decision-making and teamwork to the drill.

Setting up

Create a grid that is 16×20 yards in size and place four small goals, two on each side.

Choose two players to be the “neutral players” and position them between the goals, one on each side.

Divide the remaining players into two equal teams and have them line up in four groups outside the grid.

Make sure you have enough balls ready for quick restarts.

Playing the game

The coach starts the drill by playing a ball onto the field.

The first two players from each team enter the grid to play a 2v2 game.

The neutral players stay outside the grid but can move between the goals to support the team that has possession of the ball.

The neutral players should provide passing options, create numerical advantages, and help the team in possession maintain control of the ball.

When a goal is scored, all four players leave the field, and four new players from the waiting groups enter to play the next round.

If the ball goes out of bounds, play restarts with a kick-in by the team that did not cause the ball to go out.

The game continues until one team reaches a predetermined number of goals, like 5 or 10.

To add some spice, you can make this variation

After reaching the goal count, switch out the neutral players to provide different support options for the teams.

3v1 Monkey In The Middle

The “3v1 Monkey In The Middle” rondo drill is indeed a fun and effective warm-up exercise that focuses on passing, receiving, and movement skills.

Setting up

You need four players divided into teams of four.

Each team will have a 12×12-yard grid. In each grid, place one ball and one colored bib to identify the “monkey.”

Playing the game

One player starts as the “monkey in the middle” in each grid, while the other three players try to keep possession of the ball.

The three players pass the ball to each other, trying to avoid the “monkey” intercepting it.

The goal of the “monkey” is to win the ball by intercepting a pass or forcing an error.

If the “monkey” successfully wins the ball or if a player kicks the ball out of the grid, the player who lost possession becomes the new “monkey.”

The game continues with the new “monkey” trying to intercept passes.

Adding progression

Once the players are comfortable with the drill, you can introduce a touch limit, like allowing only 2 or 3 touches per player.

This will encourage quick decision-making and improve ball circulation.

You can also change the number of touches allowed for the “monkey” to make it more challenging.

That’s how you play the “3v1 Monkey In The Middle” rondo drill.

It’s a fun way to warm up and work on passing, receiving, and movement skills.

4v2 Drills

It’s a variation of the classic 4v2 rondo setup but with a scoring element added to make it more engaging.

Setting up

Divide the players into three teams of four, and make sure each team wears different color bibs.

Choose one team to be the first defending team and position them outside the grids.

Set up two grids, each measuring 12×15 yards, for the non-defending teams to play in.

Have a supply of balls ready outside the grids for quick restarts.

Playing the game

Start the game by blowing the whistle.

The defending team sends two players into each grid, creating a 4v2 game.

The objective for the attacking teams is to complete four consecutive passes without the defending team intercepting the ball.

Each time the attacking teams complete four consecutive passes, they score a point.

The defending team can score points by intercepting the ball and placing the sole of their foot on it.

Play three games, each lasting 3 minutes, and make sure teams switch roles so that every team gets a chance to defend.

Keep track of the points accumulated by each team throughout the three games.

The team with the highest total points after all three games is declared the winner.

4v2 Switching The Play

This drill is great for practicing passing, receiving, vision, and awareness.

It adds a dynamic element of switching the play to challenge your decision-making and execution of longer-range passes.

Setting up

Create a grid that measures 40×20 yards and divide it into three zones, as shown in the diagram.

Divide the players into three teams of four, making sure each team wears a different color bib.

Position two teams as the attacking teams in the outer zones, and assign one team as the defending team outside the central zone.

Make sure you have plenty of soccer balls ready.

Playing the game

Start the game with the two attacking teams having the ball in their respective zones.

The defending team sends two players into one of the attacking teams’ zones to try and win the ball.

The attacking team must make at least four consecutive passes within their zone before attempting to switch the ball to the other attacking team in the opposite zone.

The objective is to execute a successful switch, where the ball travels from one attacking team to the other through the central zone.

If the attacking team successfully switches the ball, the two defending players from the initial zone return to the halfway point, and the other two defending players enter the new attacking team’s zone to try and win possession.

If the ball goes out of play or the attacking team fails to execute a successful switch, they become the defending team, and the previous defending team takes their place as attackers.

4v2 To Goal

This drill includes shooting and provides players with opportunities to practice passing, receiving, and finishing skills.

Setting up

Prepare a penalty area or use small cones to create a similar-sized grid.

Divide the players into two teams of five, making sure each team wears different color bibs.

Assign one team as the attacking team and the other team as the defending team.

Position the attacking team with four players inside the penalty area and have one player designated as the “server” outside the area.

The defending team should have a goalkeeper and two players positioned on each side of the goal.

Playing the game

The “server” starts the game by playing a ball into one of the attacking players inside the penalty area.

At the same time, one player from each side of the goal for the defending team enters the penalty area to create a 4v2 situation.

The objective for the attacking team is to complete at least three consecutive passes before attempting to shoot and score a goal.

The defending team aims to win the ball and clear it out of play.

Once the ball goes out of play or a goal is scored, the server plays in another ball to restart the game.

After 5-10 minutes of play, have the teams switch roles, with the attacking team becoming the defending team and vice versa.

Keep track of the number of goals scored by each team.

The team with the most goals at the end of the designated time is declared the winner.

Other Fun & Engaging Rondo Drills

4v1 Rondo

Four players try to keep the ball away from one defender in a small space.

The focus is on passing quickly, moving around, and making good choices.

Diamond Rondo

This uses a diamond-shaped area with players at each point of the diamond.

The goal is to keep the ball by using good angles, passing quickly, and having options for support.

Continuous Rondo

Players stand in a big circle, and when they lose the ball, the player who made the mistake becomes the defender.

This drill helps with changing quickly between offense and defense and keeping a fast pace.

Overload Rondo

In this version, one team has more players than the other, giving them an advantage.

The challenge is for the team with fewer players to work on defending and trying to take the ball away.

Rondo with Restrictions

This one has specific rules or limits, like only being allowed a certain number of touches, passing with only one touch, or using certain areas of the field.

These rules help players improve their skills and make good decisions when they’re under pressure.


Why is it called a rondo?

In the rondo drill, the term “rondo” comes from the word “round” and it describes the shape that the passing team forms during the exercise.

Are rondos difficult?

The difficulty level of rondos can be adjusted based on your preferences.

For instance, if you use smaller grids and have fewer pressers or defenders, it will make the drill easier for the passing team.

Modifying the size of the playing area and the number of opposing players, you can adapt the challenge level to suit the skill level and objectives of your training session.

Can anyone do a rondo?


Rondos are accessible to anyone who the willingness to learn. With practice and patience, anyone can participate in and benefit from the drills.

How many people do you need for a rondo?

When it comes to the numbers involved in a rondo, it can vary greatly, but you’ll need at least three players to play the drill.

Ideally, you would have more players to resemble a traditional rondo setup. At a minimum, you would need two players as passers and one player as the presser or defender.

However, having additional players on the passing team would allow for a more effective and dynamic rondo practice.

How do I set up a rondo in training?

The article above provides a comprehensive explanation of the steps involved in setting up a rondo drill.

It offers detailed guidance on creating the necessary playing area, dividing players into teams, and providing specific instructions for gameplay.