Coaching Tips & AnalysisSoccer Drills

10 Great Exercises used from Top European teams

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Top 10 most popular football exercises (premium)

In this article , we have brought together the 10 most popular exercises among our community of coaches. All exercises contain a detailed description as well as an animation to make them easier to understand. They were created by our team and are inspired by professional coaches, such as Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri.

1- Sequence of passes with information collection in groups of 4

Duration

12 mins

Players

12-24
Warming up

Ideal for football schools, this exercise, apparently very simple, will allow your players to work on taking information as well as their passing quality.

Animation: Sequence of passes with information gathering in groups of 4
Using cups, arrange triangles of approximately 15m on each side , so that the triangles overlap. Then form teams of 4 players: 1 player at each cup then the last player at the first cup (with ball).
The sequence will unfold as follows:
  1. The 1st player A will play on the 2nd player B.
  2. The latter controls, then plays on the 3rd player C.
  3. C controls then passes to the 4th player D, and so on.
  4. A takes B’s place, B takes C’s place and C returns to the starting point.
Very simple in appearance, this exercise is ideal for working on taking information , due to the placement and superposition of the different triangles.

Progress

Once the sequence is in place, you can offer several variations to your players:
  • Change the direction of play arbitrarily in the middle of the sequence.
  • Add double one-twos after each pass to make the exercise even more challenging.
  • Modify the position of the cups to create even more “crossover” between the players.

Categories

U10 U11 U12 U13

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

2- Combinations with a one-touch circuit and supporting player

Duration

15 mins

Players

6-18
Warming up

Ideal as a warm-up, this exercise is a good start. Don’t forget to emphasize the importance of verbal, but also visual (calls and travel) communication. This workshop was used during a session in Liverpool by Jurgen Klopp.

Animation: Combinations with a one-touch circuit and supporting player
On a space of approximately 25x35m , arrange 10 cups to form 2 work spaces as shown in the diagram. Then place 12 players on each of the cups, including 2 players at the starting cup with a ball.
The 2 groups will play in parallel and each passing sequence will take place as follows:
  1. The 1st player A starts driving the ball for a few meters then makes a short pass to the 2nd player B. A then takes B’s place.
  2. B plays a 1-touch throw to the 3rd player C.
  3. C also plays a touch to the 4th player D, who will put it back in B’s race.
  4. B player then on the 5th player E, who will control, start driving the ball for 8-10m then make a short pass to the 1st player of the next circuit.
  5. The passing sequence continues in the same way on the other side.

Progression : the exercise takes place in exactly the same way, but the last player will make a long pass instead of finishing by driving the ball and short passing.

Progression with long pass
Progression with long pass

Categories

U18 U19 U20 Adult

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

3- Rafael Benitez passing circuit with one-two, opening and long play

Duration

15 mins

Players

12-18
Warming up

A passing circuit with many possible combinations, this exercise is ideal for working technically during a warm-up.

Animation: Rafael Benitez passing circuit with one-two, opening and long play
Demarcate an area of ​​approximately 25x30m then place 4 dummies (or stakes) on each side. Then place a cup approximately 1 meter from each of the mannequins and place 4 players per cup (see animation).
The circuit will take place as follows:
  1. The first 2 players located on the opposite sides (A and C) will start with a one-two with the player on their left (B and D).
  2. After performing a one-two, they will control in the direction of play and make a long pass to the 2nd player on the opposite side (A’ and C’).
  3. The latter will then control with one touch behind the mannequin then continue the passing sequence in the same way.
  4. After their passage, the players move from one cup to another: A to B, B to C, C to D and D to A.
This passing pattern was frequently used by Rafael Benitez during his training sessions at Naples .

Progress

You can offer your players a variation as progression, always with the same layout , but a different path :
  1. The first 2 players located on the opposite sides (A and C) will start with a one-two with the player on their left (B and D).
  2. After performing a one-two, they will control in the direction of play and make a long pass to the 2nd player on the opposite side (A’ and C’).
  3. This time, the opposing players will perform a one-two with the 2nd player (see animation) who will then put them back in the race (behind the mannequin).
  4. After their passage, the players move from one cup to another: A to B, B to C, C to D and D to A.
Progression with a different path
Progression with a different path

Categories

U17 U18 U19 U20 Professional

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

4- Information gathering and cognitive work in football school

Duration

12 mins

Players

4-20
Technical

Often neglected in football schools, cognitive work is nevertheless essential. This exercise will allow your players to work on taking information with a play of colors while constantly being in contact with the ball.

Animation: Information gathering and cognitive work in football school
Create a circle using 8 cups of different colors and place 4 players with 4 cups, including a player with a ball. Create as many circles as necessary depending on the number of players available during your session (2 circles for 8 players, 3 circles for 12 players, etc.).
The exercise proceeds as follows:
  1. The 1st player starts handling the ball then passes to one of his teammates, of his choice. At the time of the pass, he will announce a color .
  2. The 2nd player controls and must then drive the ball to one of the cups of the announced color. He will then pass to one of his teammates, while announcing a new color.
  3. The exercise continues like this.
Perform sets of 3 to 4 minutes followed by 1 minute of rest. Also remember to change the order of the cups between each series .
The objective of this exercise is to make your players work on information gathering , decision-making as well as cognitive work .

Categories

U10 U11 U12 U13

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

5- Tiki Taka: passing game with 2 central players

Duration

12 mins

Players

6-18

Technical

This exercise is a variation of the famous “6 cups game” specific to the work of Tiki Taka. It is a passing circuit with 2 central players with many variations, ideal for a football school.

Animation: Tiki Taka: passing game with 2 central players
Arrange 4 cups to form a square of approximately 15m side, then place 2 cups in the centers . Then place a player at each of the cups and duplicate the workshop as many times as necessary depending on the number of players you have available.
The pass circuit will take place as follows:
  1. The 1st player (A) starts by playing a short pass to the 2nd player (B) located in the center.
  2. The latter controls then plays on the opposite player (C).
  3. C controls then makes a short pass again to the 4th player (D).
  4. D will then play again on the central player and the circuit continues.

Variation 1 : perform the same circuit but without crossing the central players.

Variant without crossing the centrals
Variant without crossing the centrals

Variation 2 : remove a central player and perform the same circuit with 5 players in total (instead of 6).

Variation with a central player
Variation with a central player

Categories

U10 U11 U12 U13

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

6- The 4 colors of Unai Emery: liveliness and reaction time

Duration

15 mins

Players

5-20
Physical

Used in 2018 by Unai Emery, this alertness and coordination exercise will allow you to work on reaction time while including playing with the ball. Quite a fun exercise, you’ll see!

Animation: The 4 colors of Unai Emery: liveliness and reaction time
Mark out a square of approximately 10m on each side then place a player in the center. Then place 4 cups (or blocks) of different colors inside the square, then place 4 mini goals of 4 different colors on each side of the square. Finally, ask 4 players to stand next to each mini goal (or behind if you are using cups). See animation for more details.
The exercise starts at your signal, when you announce a sequence of 3 colors (eg: “blue, yellow, red”). The central player must then:
  1. Touch the cup of the 1st color with your hand (blue in our example).
  2. Receive the ball from the player located at goal level of the 2nd color (yellow in our example).
  3. Score in the mini-goal of the 3rd color (red in our example).
The central player will play 2 balls in this way before giving up his place. Consider rotating regularly or duplicating the workshop depending on the number of players in training.
This exercise, taken from a training session by Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain in 2018 , can be performed at the start of the session after a complete warm-up. It combines coordination work , liveliness and brings a playful side to your session.

Categories

U17 U18 U19 Professional

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

7- Ball release under pressure and change of play to 2-1-2

Duration

12 mins

Players

6-14
Tactical

Excellent exercise to work on ball release when your central defenders are under pressure. It will also allow your players to work on their automatisms when they make a game change.

Animation: Ball release under pressure and change of play to 2-1-2
On a half-field, place 2 mini-goals on the center line as well as 2 zones of 5x5m approximately 10m from the center line (see animation). Then arrange 5 cups to form a 2-1-2 system including 2 central defenders, 1 defensive midfielder and 2 attacking midfielders. Then place 2 players at each cup.
The exercise proceeds as follows:
  1. The left central back starts with a back pass to his goalkeeper, who will then play on the opposite side on the 1st central defender.
  2. The latter controls, then plays on the central attacking midfielder who will ask for the ball by winning .
  3. He will then play one-touch on the central defensive midfielder. The latter will carry out an oriented check before playing on the opposite side .
  4. The 1st player will then ask for the ball a notch higher in the 5x5m square area before concluding with the mini goal.
  5. The exercise starts again on the opposite side in the same way.
Exercise used by Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds , it is ideal for working on ball release when your central defenders are under pressure. It requires a 2-1-2 setup but can easily adapt to different game systems.

Categories

U14 U15 U16 U17

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

8- Construction and finishing in 9vs9 with passage doors

Duration

20 mins

Players

16-20
Tactical

This role-playing exercise is ideal for working on the construction phase. Used in Naples a few years ago, you can use it at the end of the session.

Animation: Construction and finishing in 9vs9 with passage doors
On a half-field, place a large goal at the center line, as well as 4 gates on each side of the field using 4 cones (see animation). Then form 2 teams of 9 players including 1 goalkeeper per team.
The opposition starts and the objective for each team is to score on the opposing goal . However, they will have to go through a door on each side of the field before being able to finish their action. After passing through at least 2 doors, players can end up on the opponent’s goal.
Used by Rafael Benitez during a training session in Naples, the objective of this opposition is threefold:
  • Working the construction phase
  • Work on offensive movements
  • Work on passing accuracy

Categories

U14 U15 U16 U17

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

9- Exploit the weak side with this 8vs4 from Marcelo Bielsa

Duration

20 mins

Players

12-18
Tactical

Very useful for managing the numerical advantage during a change of play, this exercise used by Marcelo Bielsa should please your players!

Animation: Exploit the weak side with this 8vs4 from Marcelo Bielsa
Using 3/4 of the field , you will demarcate a final zone of approximately 15m where you will place a second goal. Then define 2 zones on each side of the field of approximately 30x20m (see animation). Finally, form 2 teams : one of 4 players (red) and one of 8 players (blue).
The exercise will proceed as follows:
  1. The source of the ball is at the level of the 1st goalkeeper, who will throw it back to one of the 2 central defenders.
  2. The latter will then play on one of his midfielders, who will have picked up to come and ask for the ball between the lines.
  3. He will then give it with one touch to the defensive midfielder, who will immediately play on the opposite side (in the area on the other side of the field).
  4. A 3vs2 will follow in the zone, with the objective of progressing as quickly as possible towards the final zone.
  5. Once in the last zone, the players will finish their action on the big goal with the help of their attacker.
Some rules to apply during this exercise:
  • Defensive players (here the reds) are prohibited from entering the final zone .
  • Offensive players (here the blues) must complete the action as quickly as possible after changing sides (give them around 6-8 seconds ).
  • Alternate sides when restarting the goalkeeper.
Created by Marcelo Bielsa , this exercise allows you to work on the management of the numerical advantage and the exploitation of the weak side. Remember to alternate the teams regularly, as well as the 2 goalkeepers.

Categories

U16 U17 U18 U19 U20 Professional

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

10- Counter-pressing to José Mourinho’s loss of the ball in 4vs4 (+4)

Duration

20 mins

Players

12-16

Theme

Tactical

Exercise used by José Mourinho at Real Madrid, it will allow you to work on gegenpressing (or counter-pressing) in an 8vs4 situation including 4 supporting players. Be careful to close the spaces as soon as you lose the ball!

Animation: Counter-pressing to José Mourinho's loss of the ball in 4vs4 (+4)
Demarcate an area of ​​30x30m then place 2 large goals on each of the widths. Then form a team of 4 players and a team of 8 players. The team of 4 positions itself in the zone and the team of 8 players places 4 players in the zone and 2 players on each length of the field.
The exercise starts with a 4vs4 within the zone with 4 players in support . The objective for the team on the power play is to complete a series of 8 consecutive passes before being able to score. The objective of the defending team is to recover the ball and score with no limit on passes.
When losing the ball, the players on the flanks must quickly close the spaces and press the ball carrier. The idea is to counterpress and recover the ball within 6 to 8 seconds of losing it.
The rules of the exercise are as follows:
  1. Players in numerical superiority are limited to 2 touches of the ball. The opposing players (the team of 4) have no hit limit.
  2. The team of 8 players scores a point for each series of 8 consecutive passes .
  3. The team of 4 players scores 1 point if they recover the ball and score on the big goal. If the opposing team recovers the ball within 6 seconds after losing it, they score 1 point.

Categories

U17 U18 U19 Professional

We recommend using this exercise for these categories, but feel free to adapt the distances and number of players in order to apply this exercise to other age categories.

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