What is a Rondo in Soccer?

Soccer teams rely on passing and movement to maintain possession and advance the ball up the field. One of the best training methods for improving these skills is the rondo drill. Though new fans may not be familiar with the term, rondos have become a soccer staple across all levels, from youth academies to the biggest clubs and national teams. So what exactly is a rondo and why is it such an integral part of the beautiful game?

Rondos are structured possession drills that pit a small group of players against one or two defenders. The objective is for the group to keep the ball away from the defender(s) while staying within a confined space.

As the name suggests, rondos involve players passing the ball in a circular pattern around the defender(s). The tight space forces quick decision-making, communication, and crisp passing.

Rondos can be tailored in size, numbers and rules to focus on specific skills. Their repetitive nature engrains good habits and a possession mindset. While rondos may seem straightforward on the surface, executing them at a high level requires technical prowess, vision and concentration. No wonder the best teams utilize rondos regularly to hone their skills and dominate matches through superior possession.

The Concept of Rondos

In a rondo, a group of attackers (typically 4-10 players) pass the ball in a circle or square around 1-3 defenders. The aim is to maintain possession.

Defenders in the middle try to win the ball back and replace the player who lost possession.

Rondos teach players to:

  • Make quick decisions under pressure
  • Improve ball control and passing accuracy
  • Communicate and move into space

The format mimics the childhood game “monkey in the middle”.

Importance of Rondos in Soccer Training

Rondos ingrain good habits and simulate in-game scenarios like playing in tight spaces.

Key skills developed through rondos:

  • Ball control
  • Vision and awareness
  • Passing technique
  • Movement to create options

As Pep Guardiola said:

“The rondo is the best exercise I have ever seen for improving ball control and dominating space with the ball.”

Rondos teach patience in buildup and keeping possession.

Variations of Rondos

Rondos, as a versatile training tool in soccer, offer a range of variations that can be tailored to specific objectives and skill levels. Understanding these variations allows coaches and players to fine-tune their training sessions to meet their needs.

Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Rondos

3vs1 Rondo drill
  1. Basic Rondos:
    • Objective: These Rondos are designed for beginners or as warm-up exercises. The focus is on fundamental ball control, passing, and movement.
    • Player Roles: Typically, a smaller circle with one or two defenders and a few attackers.
    • Intensity: Low to moderate.
  2. Intermediate Rondos:
    • Objective: Intermediate Rondos introduce increased pressure and complexity. Players work on improving their decision-making and passing accuracy.
    • Player Roles: A larger circle with more attackers and defenders, often introducing two-touch play.
    • Intensity: Moderate.
  3. Advanced Rondos:
    • Objective: These Rondos are for more advanced players looking to sharpen their skills for high-pressure game situations.
    • Player Roles: A larger circle with a significant number of attackers and multiple defenders. Players are encouraged to apply various techniques.
    • Intensity: High.

Different Formats and Their Applications

  1. 1v1 Rondos:
    • Objective: Focusing on individual ball control and defending skills. One attacker and one defender in a small area.
    • Applications: Suitable for honing one-on-one skills and creating a competitive environment.
  2. 3v1 or 4v1 Rondos:
    • Objective: Develop quick ball circulation, decision-making, and ball control. Three or four attackers against one defender.
    • Applications: Ideal for enhancing passing sequences and maintaining possession under pressure.
  3. Positional Rondos:
    • Objective: These Rondos emphasize specific positional play, such as midfield control or defensive organization.
    • Applications: Tailored to improve players’ understanding of their roles in the team.
  4. Directional Rondos:
    • Objective: Introduce a directional aspect, requiring passes to move the ball in a particular direction.
    • Applications: Ideal for training players to pass with purpose and maintain possession while progressing up the field.
  5. Conditioned Rondos:
    • Objective: Add conditions or constraints to the drill, such as using only one-touch play or allowing a limited number of passes.
    • Applications: These Rondos force players to adapt and refine specific skills while under constraint.

How the Complexity of Rondos Increases with More Players

As more players are added to the Rondo, the complexity and intensity of the drill naturally increase. Here’s how this progression unfolds:

  1. Two-Touch Play: In intermediate Rondos, players are often limited to two touches, which demands better ball control and quicker decision-making.
  2. Increased Pressure: More defenders are added, increasing the pressure on attackers. This encourages players to remain composed under duress.
  3. Tactical Awareness: With advanced Rondos, players must exhibit greater tactical awareness, positioning themselves strategically to create passing lanes.
  4. Variation in Passes: Advanced Rondos introduce a variety of passes, such as chips, through balls, and volleys, to mimic in-game situations.
  5. Positional Play: For positional Rondos, players must understand their specific positions and responsibilities, adding another layer of complexity.

By gradually progressing through these variations and increasing the number of players, coaches and players can tailor their Rondo sessions to match their skill levels and training goals. Whether it’s mastering the basics or refining advanced techniques, Rondos offer a training method that evolves with the player’s development.

How to Implement Rondos in Training

4-3-3 – positional rondo

Implementing Rondos in your soccer training regimen is a strategic process that requires careful planning and execution. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Select the Right Group Size: Determine the appropriate number of players for your Rondo drill based on your training objectives. Smaller groups with fewer attackers and defenders create a more challenging environment.
  2. Set Up the Playing Area: Mark out a circular playing area with cones or markers. The size of the circle can vary, but it should be compact enough to encourage quick passing and ball movement.
  3. Designate Attackers and Defenders: Assign roles to players within the Rondo. Typically, there are more attackers on the outside of the circle and one or more defenders in the center.
  4. Focus on Passing Techniques: Emphasize the importance of accurate passing. Players on the outside of the circle must make sharp, crisp passes to maintain possession.
  5. Encourage Movement: Movement off the ball is critical in Rondos. Attackers should constantly adjust their positions to create passing lanes and angles, while defenders should apply pressure intelligently.
  6. Rotate Roles: After a set time or a specific number of passes, rotate players between the attacker and defender roles. This keeps the drill dynamic and ensures everyone gets a chance to practice different aspects.

Benefits of Rondos in Soccer

Rondos offer a wide array of benefits that extend beyond just improving ball control. Understanding these advantages can inspire coaches and players to incorporate them into their training sessions:

  • Improved Technical Skills: Rondos enhance passing accuracy, ball control, and first-touch skills, making players more proficient with the ball at their feet.
  • Enhanced Decision-Making: In a high-pressure environment like Rondos, players must make quick decisions on when and where to pass, helping them develop their soccer intelligence.
  • Teamwork and Communication: Rondos promote teamwork as players must work together to maintain possession. Communication becomes crucial in coordinating movements and passes.
  • Pressure Situations: Players experience pressure from defenders in Rondos, which prepares them for similar situations in actual matches, where maintaining possession is vital.

Game Performance: The skills honed in Rondos translate directly to improved performance on the field, as players become more confident and capable in various game situations.


In conclusion, Rondos are more than just a training drill; they are a cornerstone of modern soccer development. Their ability to improve technical skills, decision-making, teamwork, and performance in pressure situations makes them invaluable for players and teams at all levels. Whether you’re a coach looking to enhance your training sessions or a player seeking to sharpen your skills, Rondos are a tool you should undoubtedly embrace.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Are Rondos only for advanced players?

A1: No, Rondos can be adapted for players of all levels. The complexity can be adjusted to suit the skill level of the participants.

Q2: How long should a Rondo drill last during training?

A2: The duration can vary but typically ranges from 5 to 15 minutes. It’s essential to keep it intense and focused.

Q3: Can Rondos be used for youth soccer training?

A3: Absolutely! Rondos are highly beneficial for youth players as they develop technical skills and soccer intelligence at an early age.

Q4: Are there variations of Rondos for specific skills?

A4: Yes, Rondos can be customized to target specific skills like passing, dribbling, or defensive positioning.

Anthony Molina

Anthony Molina

Hello, fellow football fanatics! I'm Anthony Molina, and my life has always revolved around the beautiful game. My mission with FOOTBOLNO is to serve as the premier soccer guide, ensuring enthusiasts continue to play and cherish the beautiful game throughout their lifetime.

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