Reaction Speed and Finishing

By Alex Trukan

The reaction speed and finishing exercise is designed to improve the time needed to accelerate, change direction and win a 1v1 duel. In addition to that, there is an engaging element of finishing and competitiveness, what makes the practice enjoyable and motivating.

Set Up and Directions
Set up two triangles as shown on the diagram. Divide the team into two groups and organise players between the two cones on the edge of the penalty area. Goalkeeper should be ready in the goal, and coach should be on the opposite side, with min. of 5 balls. Players shuffle between two cones and wait for the signal from the coach.


As the players move between two cones with the back to the goal, a coach plays the ball in the central area, into the direction of the goal. Players then have to run around the red cone placed in front of them and chase for the ball.


First player to the ball becomes an attacker, second player becomes a defender. The ball should be played in a way that enables players to catch it in front of the penalty area.


The aim of the attacking player is to score a goal, while a defender has a task to stop him and win the ball back.


Each repetition should be performed at 100% intensity and last no longer than 6 seconds. That should be repeated 4-6 times with 1 min. breaks in between (5-6 players in each group should enable that automatically). The exercise consists of 1-2 series with 4 min. rest in between them.


  • Players facing the goal and reacting to coach’s signal
  • Different movement combinations (between the cones) before chasing the ball
  • Different sprinting shapes before chasing the ball

By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest

Anaerobic Endurance Circuit

By Alex Trukan

This circuit is focused on improving anaerobic endurance – the ability of a body to produce high quality actions throughout the whole match. The organisation of the practice is rotational. Players are constantly involved and rotate between different exercises in a circuit. All of the exercises should be football specific and if needed, adapted to the needs of the team.

Set up and Directions

Organise four cones and four exercise stations between them as shown in the diagram. In this example, there are following exercises: dribbling square, ladder, shooting, sprinting slalom with one-touch passing. On each of the four cones, there should be a minimum of 2 players. Rotation can be in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. It is crucial that all exercises are performed with a maximal effort. Between each station, players should jog in a slow tempo.



On the coach’s signal, one player from each group starts the practice on each station. Following instructions apply to each exercise:

  1. Dribbling square: a player dribbles to each of the four cones and touches them. Player has to return to the middle of the square before dribbling to the next cone.
  2. Ladder: different combinations of quick feet and sprinting work.
  3. Shooting: a player starts on the red cone, runs to one of the balls, shoots and comes back to the red cone before running on to the second ball and shooting on goal.
  4. Sprinting slalom and one touch pass: a player performs a slalom between the flags and then passes the ball back to the coach using one touch.


As it can be seen on the diagram below, second player waits until the first one finishes the exercise. Players rotate in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction.


Work and rest periods management is crucial in this exercise. Players should perform each exercise with a maximal effort and then actively rest in between. The distances between each exercise should enable players to do so automatically (suit it to the group characteristics).



Work on each station should last up to 4-5 seconds. Between each exercise players should have 10 seconds rest (slow jogging between stations). The circle should be repeated twice, then 4 min. of rest should be applied. In all, players should go through 2-4 series (each series consists of 2 complete circuits).


  • Changes of direction
  • Passing stations
  • Combinations of different ladder work

By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest

1 v 1 Line Game

By Alex Trukan

The presented exercise is a 1v1 line dribbling game which can be used as an extensive speed endurance conditioning game. This practice is very simple to organise and manage, but at the same time due to constant involvement of players, competitive element as well as high physical load can be effectively used as a tool to develop the ability to sustain and repeat high effort activities.

Set-Up and Directions

Organise a number of rectangles of 3x5m. Divide the team into pairs. One player is an attacker and second player is a defender. Each pitch can be named after a league. For example: Premier League, Championship and League 1. That is especially useful for younger players and can be used a tournament.


The game starts by a defender passing the ball to an attacker. The pass should be of a correct timing, pace and quality.


As soon as the ball is played, defender closes the attacker down. The space between attacker in possession and defender should be reduced immediately.


The aim of the attacking player is to dribble through the opposite line. If the defender gets the ball, he attacks the other side. Winner of each round gets one point and moves to the ‘higher’ pitch.



Each round should last 1-2 mins. and be repeated 6-10 times in 2 series. Rest between repetitions should last 1-3 mins.,
while rest between series should be 4 mins.

– 2v2
– Vary area size and shape
– Number of passes before closing down

By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest

‘Cone War’ Game to maintain Anaerobic Endurance

By Alex Trukan

The exercise is focused on maintaining and improving anaerobic endurance in a fun and engaging game. The organisation of the practice ensures players enjoy the work in a competitive scenario. This exercise is relevant for players of all ages and abilities.

Set up and directions

Set up a square of approximately 30x30m. Divide the team into two groups of 5 players (numbers are flexible). Players from one team have one ball each. Place number of cones in the area.


The aim of the team in possession is to knock down (put upside down) as many cones as possible. In order to do so, attacking player should have the ball under control. The defending team, in turn, tries to raise the cones immediately. The team that will have more cones knocked down/raised at the end of a given period of time, wins the game.


As a progression, the defending team, can also try to gain possession of the ball. If min. 3 defending players will be in possession of the ball, the attacking team loses the game.



Each round should last 1-2 mins. and be repeated 6-10 times in 2 series. Rest between repetitions should last 1-3 mins., while rest between series should be 4 mins.


  • 3v3/4v4/5v5/6v6
  • Sprint outside the square after knocking down of each cone
  • Different area size/shape and number of cones

By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest

Four Boxes Ball Manipulation and Speed

By Alex Trukan

This exercise involves the combination of ball manipulation (ball mastery) and speed. The ability to manipulate the ball effectively is the core, which lays the foundation for all other skills. Taking into consideration the modern football, speed is an essential element which should be included in training at any level.

Set up and directions

Organise 4 squares of 2×2 m. as shown on the diagram. There should be 2 players (number can be adapted) with one ball each in each square. Coaching position can be in the middle of the pitch enabling all the players to see demonstrations. Coach instructs the players to perform various ball manipulation skills (ex. roll over, shuffle stops, samba, inside-outside, V drag). On the coach’s signal players dribble/pass/run to the other box as shown in the second part of the article.



On the coach’s signal, every player runs with the ball to the next box (clockwise/anticlockwise) as fast as possible. Winner gets points.


Other variation may include passing the ball to the next box. That can be used as a more active rest strategy in between maximal speed efforts.


As a progression, passing and dribbling can be combined: one player from each pair passes the ball to the next square and follows it as fast as possible.



Single max. effort action (dribbling/running to the other squares) should be repeated 6-10 times in 2-4 series and last no longer than 4 seconds. In between that, the duration of ball manipulation exercises should be 10 seconds. Rest between series should last 4 minutes.


  • Different variations of ball manipulation exercises
  • Run/pass/dribble to the next square (clockwise/anticlockwise)
  • Diagonal interchange between squares

By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest

Counter Attacking with Speed Endurance

By Alex Trukan

This exercise combines tactical theme of counter attacking from the middle areas with conditioning emphasis on speed endurance. Physical side of transition from defence to attack is based on quick reaction and forward runs both with and without the ball. Focus on speed endurance will enable players to sustain the quality of each counter attack throughout the whole match.

Set up and directions

Set up a 30×40 m. rectangle around the middle area of the pitch. Divide the team into 2 groups of 4 players and organise additional 3 neutral players. Place the goalkeeper in the goal. Team in possession tries to play the ball between two wide neutral players (1 point if the ball is played from one side to another using middle players), and into deep lying neutral player (2 points). That creates realistic scenario of possession for penetration. Defending team is trying to gain possession, at the same time preventing attacking team from scoring.


As soon as the defending team gets in possession, their aim is to attack full sized goal. Two wide neutral players join the attacking team what creates 6v4 situation. That forces defenders to recover as soon and as effective as possible.



The aim of the attacking team is to score a goal not exceeding the time limit of 10 seconds. After that, the teams swap their roles or third team comes in as a counter attacking team (depending on numbers).



Duration of play is between 10-12 mins. in 1’30’’ – 2’’ mins. intervals. The timing of counter attacking will be managed naturally according to game situation.


  • 5v5 + 2/3/4 neutral players
  • 5v5 in counter attack (neutral players don’t join)

Vary the area location (distance/time of counter attacking)

By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest