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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Timing:

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.

Variations:

  • 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.

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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.

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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).

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Timing:

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.

Variations:

  • 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

Finishing Drill to Improve Reaction Speed

By Alex Trukan

This exercise involving finishing in the penalty box focuses on developing reaction and starting speed. Therefore, players improve physical component in the engaging and fun practice what stimulates their interest and motivation. The content of this practice is especially relevant for strikers, however it will benefit any player in the penalty area who needs to react quickly in order to score a goal.

Set up and directions
Organise 5 players (the numbers are flexible) around the penalty box with two balls each, two players in the penalty box without the ball and a goalkeeper in the goal. Each outside player should be given a number. Also smaller area marked out by cones can be used. Recommended minimal amount of outside players is three.

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As the coach shouts a number, relevant outside player plays the ball into the penalty box. The pass can be

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Crossing and Finishing to Improve Speed

By Alex Trukan

The crossing and finishing pattern exercise helps in developing starting speed. This physical component is particularly required in the final third of the pitch in wide areas as well as in and around the penalty box. Starting quickness and short distance speed often create difference and can determine whether player gets to the ball or into space first.

Set up and directions
Divide the team into 6 groups and organize as shown on the diagram below. Starting positions for the wingers should be placed around 15 m. from the penalty box. Strikers attacking centrally and defenders should start another 10 m. behind the wingers. Organize a goalkeeper in the full sized goal. All players should work position specifically whenever possible.

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The practice starts by a horizontal pass to the second striker, who then

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2v2+2 End Line Game

By Alex Trukan

The 2v2+2 game is designed to develop anaerobic power altogether with dribbling and ball control skills. Relatively small space and constant pressure requires the players in possession to look for space and adjust by quick movement with and without the ball.

Set up and directions
Organise a rectangle of approximately 15×20 m. Divide the team into three teams of two. Two teams play in the middle area and two remaining players are positioned one on each side as shown on the diagram. The aim of the team in possession is to dribble through the opposite end line, which is defended by the other team.

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The game starts by coach playing the ball into attacking team, which tries to

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3v3 Wave Conditioning Practice

By Alex Trukan

This modification of 3v3 game involves transition scenario. That places conditioning demand on both attacking and defending players. Regardless the decision made by central striker upon receiving the ball, supporting players have to make forward runs on full speed. Also defenders are required to make quick recovery runs. Players are encouraged to finish the action as a counter-attack, however, if that is not possible, positional attack can be also used.

Set up and directions
Organise two goals and area as shown on the diagram. The size should be approximately 30×50 m. The length of the pitch should allow players to make forward and recovery runs. Divide the team into attackers and defenders and organise them as shown on the diagram. One goalkeeper should be placed in each goal.

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The game starts by the goalkeeper playing the ball into attacker who is marked 1v1 by a defender. The attacker should receive the ball in the penalty box half circle.

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At the same time, attackers make forward runs and defenders make recovery runs to create 3v3 counter-attack scenario.

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Attacking team is encouraged to progress forwards as soon as possible. That can be achieved by playing the ball straight into space in behind. If that is not possible, patient positional attack can be used.

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Timing:
The practice should include 4-6 repetitions in 1-2 series. The rest between repetitions is 1 min. while between series it is 4 min. Each repetition should be done with 100% intensity and last up to 15 seconds.

Variations:

  • 2v3 (1 supporting attacker) progressing into 3v3
  • 3v2 (1 supporting defender) progressing into 3v3
  • Vary starting positions of attackers and defenders

By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest