Pre-season conditioning


60x60 yards


Balls, cones

No. of players


Session time

Development 45mins, game 30mins

This session is about developing the conditioning of players throughout pre-season and into the new campaign, by using a strong technical passing approach.

We like to practise this because it offers match-like passing conditions, and working with a ball is the best way to increase fitness whilst brushing up on passing ability.

We find that a player lacking fitness will drop off sharply in the final quarter of a match.

What do I get the players to do?

We begin with a passing triangle – cones are 10 yards apart. The ball is quickly moved around using one-touch passing, during which we’ll also encourage ad hoc one-twos. (1)


• The first move, a simple passing triangle, gets players comfortable with the ball

We now switch to straight-line passing – two players 16 yards apart in a line with a floater in the middle. White passes to yellow, who sets back to white who then passes to red. Yellow and white swap positions. (2a)  The process is repeated when white passes to red.


• In straight line passing, white and yellow link up, swap positions, and the ball is fed to red

Coaches can vary the distance between players – shortening it makes the task easier, lengthening it means greater difficulty. (2b)


• Enlarging the playing area offers a greater challenge for passers

How do I progress the session?

In the progression, we rehearse third-man runs – the idea that a third player (not the passer) makes an attacking run and receives the ball. We use nine players in a 20×30-yard area. Players position themselves in pairs, just in from each corner along the short touchline. The spare player starts in the middle of the area.

A ball is played along the top edge from player 1 to 2, then fed to the middle man (player 3) and back to the serving player to replicate the passing triangle. (3a) Player 3 now runs to the right-hand side bottom touchline and joins the back of the queue. The server takes his place in the middle after playing a third-man pass to player 2, who sprints down the flank. As player 2 progresses, he lays a pass ahead and the move begins in the other direction. (3b)


• In the progression, third-man running comes into effect, beginning with a passing triangle


• Now as players adopt new positions, a third-man run is made and the pass finds him

How do I put this into a game situation?

We use a 60×60-yard area, with each team looking to attack a 10-yard end zone. The match is 6v6 with two floating neutrals, who always support the attacking team. Defenders cannot enter zones, but attackers can when receiving a through pass. Each zone pass completed scores a point. (4)


• In the zone game, reds link with a floating player to feed the runner and score a point

What are the key things to look for technically/tactically?

The session relies on quick one-touch passing between team mates, plus purposeful, attacking and overlapping runs.

Players must display technique, skill and the ability to launch third-man runs, so precise timing and intelligent movement off the ball is crucial.


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement