Training for six- Chapter 3: Training for three


Training for Three. Now we’re cooking.

Training with only 3? Many an empire has started with less. Now you can practice forward work, follow up, backline, on-ball. Lots.
I just transcribed an interview with Barry Capuano. Essendon Premiership winger, 1950, and long time CEO in the successful 80s years. What an absolute ripper of a bloke! Just gold. A gentleman. Hope we’ll be mates forever, Barry. One of the things his said that was so great about Coleman as a coach was, “He never just told us what to do, he always said why.” Everything had a reason.
If some of the Training for Six drills seem a bit long in their unfolding, it’s because, while I was never the fart of an ant that crawled on a Coleman’s bootlace, I very much agree. It’s not enough to just get fit. There has to be a reason for every drill. A way for you to improve.
Warm Up 1.
To warm up, the three of you jog down the middle of the ground and back, just once, to get your legs. Kick up heals-to-arse, zip-zag step a bit, little spurts of knees up. Do a few air kicks, touch ground, a few jumps, as you go. Then, the next time, take a footy. Chip and weave and handball and roll it in front of each other at half pace, no kick more than 20 meters. As with Training for One and Two, do this for a few lengths of the ground most muscles will be getting warm, not just the straight running ones.
With each up and back slowly increase your speed, and distance with your passing, but do not go beyond ¾ anything.
Again, while boring people buried in the past will have jogged three laps, you will have touched the ball 40 times each. What a lazy head start!

Then, when warm, do your lunges, one-two-three groins, sumos, yadda, yadda. Back, hammies calves. You are usually in a position to be training with three during summer. Grounds will be hard. Make sure you ALWAYS stretch your back before you do your hammies. Most hamstring injuries are back related. You will double your stretch if your back is loose. And ALWAYS do you calves and shins. (for shins, do the standard calf stretch, but bend your knee, just a bit, until you feel it in the front half of your leg, not the back)

Now, the fun stuff
Warm Up 2. Triangle.
Go through handball on ground, in air, whatever in triangle for about five laps, then back the other way. Be rapid. Cannot stress enough two things. 1. Make it spin right! Such a good habit to get into. So few players at lower levels do it. 2. Can never get enough of picking ball up around ankles. That goes to the very core of the game. Quick reflexes, clean hands around your feet. Stupid bloody shaped ball! Handball into the ground to your teammate, do others as half-volleys, and normal ones, of varying pace. This is also important for modern footballers. At training players always handball at the one pace. But in a game sometimes you must lob them, sometimes you must punch hard through traffic. Also, receiving, sometimes you must have soft hands, sometimes you must be quick. Changing pace stops the receiver treating it like a routine/zoning out. Great for concentration.

Repeat going back the other way, on your left.

Triangle 2. As ball enters hands of Player A, Player B raises their hand left or right up or down to give the deliverer a target, as when in traffic. Again, only do about five each. As said, this is a warm up. Bang through each of these. I am a firm believer of rolling through many warm-ups. Banging out the routines for variation and touch. Variation is huge.
Drill 1. The Sammy Mitchell.
Put middle player on centre square line, or, if there is no centre square in summer, make your own using cones/jumpers/thongs for all I care. Middle player can go left and right along the line, but not forward or back off it. Other two stand either side of middle player.
Outside two handball to each other while middle player tries to intercept, slap it down. Do not just go over their head. Two outside players will have to do a lot of darting left and right and faking handballs and punching through, as well as reading each other.
Is a hugely good drill for players to realise; even as handball receivers they have to move sharp and hard to find space in tight. To gets two-way talk up. Make receiver call for ball. No point calling when player in middle has you covered. Gets receiver’s hands moving, pointing up or down or wherever to get it away from middle person’s bulk. It also teaches not to panic handball. Wait for the gap.
After a minute you will be puffing. Have a brief spell, then let one of the outside players have a go in the middle and repeat. Obviously, do three times.
This drill can be done with any multiple of three players. On nights of three, six, nine, whatever.
Warm up 3. The Triangle. Boot.
Pt.1. Start with a few circuits of stationary kicking.

Pt.2. Then, do the Three Man Yo-Yo, as done in Training for Two. All three of you about 20 meters from each other. Player A has ball. They, and Player B run backwards away from each other, as if pushing back hard from taking a mark. Do it with urgency, and NOT just for one or two steps, but about ten. Do not cut corners in any drill, no matter how few people are there! It is an attitude you are practicing, a hunger, as much as a skill. This is everything towards being a good player. Hunger! Players A and B push back away from each other until player A starts coming forward with the ball to kick it. They both run straight at each other. Straight kick, straight lead. Hardest kick and hardest mark in football. Player B marks. Do not wait for the ball, run through the mark, in front of your eyes. Both players finish about 20 meters from each other again. Now Player B and C repeat.

Pt.3. Start 30 meters apart from each other. Player A has footy. Player B leads AWAY from Player C, marks out wide, (like a switch kick, turns, running through the flight of the ball, not double backing, three ripping steps. Player C leads AWAY from Player A, repeat this loop for a good five minutes. Let it get some rhythm up.
There will always be someone who runs towards the next player rather than out and away from them. Then when the mark is taken is only five meters away from who they must deliver it to. The drill is stuffed up. Trust me on this. Always. Ha! The second you see them leading the wrong way, call “Away.”

Again, this will get you very fit, but it will be a football fitness, with three different paces, not an athletics fitness. And you will be learning to run through the ball, rather than losing your momentum by propping by reflex onto your preferred foot.
Drill 2. Doing Some Loose.
A great shake off between drills. Kick and handball between the three of you for a minute or two, moving back, forward, left, right, coming by for handball, pushing wide. Whatever. Start off ¾ pace. Just roll the ball over. Then build up to just two minutes of flat out. As always, each time you get the ball do those first three hard, dig ‘em in steps.
This is not a long kicking, long striding drill. You would have done that in Boot Pt.3. This is just kicking it around. Not thinking too much, getting your touch up.
Even this most basic drill cane have things to learn, though. If you kick it to player B and see C is going to come in for a handball, the second you kick it you should be pushing through to the side player C is running to. Don’t let them double back. Same with receiving a handball, be aware of where your next target is, and try and shift your running to suit. Such a simple thing, but always practice thinking two possessions ahead. This is what makes players who are slow, from Mark Lee to Sam Mitchell, still be so good.
Try to never double back. Run through the ball every time. Kick on the opposite foot if you must. Always practice exploding. Not stopping and propping.
Drill 3. Three Man Weave. Handball.
We’ve all done it. Do it across the ground. Breath, do it back. Repeat. This is great because it teaches you to take hard steps after you have handballed. Not think your job is done.
Drill 4. Three Man Weave. Kick.
A real beaut. Also a real test.
Player A start with ball beside left point post. Player B start, say, 20 meters out from right point post. Player C start next to Player A. And you’re away!
Player A kicks to B then takes off like the clappers to run about 20 meters in front of where he kicked it to, while Player C, runs like the clappers straight down the ground from the side the ball started. Player B, having taken the mark, turns, running towards where player C is running, puts it out in front of them, then runs like the clappers to get twenty meters in front of where player C will mark. Player C marks, Turns, running forward and across to where player A is now on the other side, and kicks out in front of them, then runs like the clappers to get twenty meters in front of where they will mark. The three of you get a weave up, heading down the ground for what will be about four kicks each, and when in range shoot. Suck in breath and go again.
Brilliant for fitness. Passing on the run. Running through the ball. Taking off the second you kick.
Drill 5. Set and Run.
Basic goal kicking. Only do it from 35-40 out. Get your technique right before you start hooking the ball trying to kick the shit out of it. It’s those shots from 35-40 out that win and lose you the match. Malcolm Blight did that one from 75 meters to go into folklore, but, hey that was 40 years ago!
Player A starts with the ball in the goal square. Player B is out to the Right, Player C out to the left. Player C leads bloody hard, wherever they want. Sometimes at the kicker, like a forward, sometimes to the side, as if in a kickout. Marks, pushed back. Set shot. Again. Always kick OVER the fullback’s reach. Player A marks, does mongrel kick to Player C, or out in front, or whatever. Player C marks/gathers runs through the ball and had a shot on the run. Repeat for five goes each. B always set shot, C always on the run. Everyone moves one spot to the left. Now A gets five set shots, B gets five on the run. Then to the left again.
As discussed last week. So often at training players, and especially coaches, settle for less. They do drills cone to cone. Who cares if it was not a perfect kick! As long as it spins through the air and they mark it, the drill rolls on. Even if they had to wait a bit. Come game day, when you have opponents, the kicks are just as imperfect and the receiver gets hammered. With this drill, if the kick is not spot on, the defender spoils. It teaches you, even when kicking out at practice, to take pride in your kick.
This drill is simple, but the hardest of all of Training For Six drills to master, because it involves getting rid of a lifetime of bad habits.
Drill 6. Three Weave Goal.
Train as you play and play as you train, yet 98% of all goal practice there is never anyone on the mark.
Also, Train as you play, the player kicking out at training always watches his kick to see if it worked, when their first instinct should be to take off.
This is great. It teaches forward work, back work, and REAL set shots.
Major alert!! Common sense is needed.
Player A has ball in goal square. Player B is 30 out. Player C starts five meters from Player B. Player A calls “Yep!” player B leads hard. Player A takes off as if playing on from fullback, those three ripping take-off steps, then running towards where player B is leading. Player C acts like the defender, chasing Player B. Player A kicks to Player B on the run, at pace.
Mark or spoil, Player B goes back for a set shot. While they are lining up, the player who kicked out, Player A, runs out and stands the mark. Player C runs back to defend the goal line.
THIS IS VERY, VERY HARD TO DO. Most players have spent a lifetime kicking out and just watching to see if their kick was any good. They are not used to then sprinting to make position. It will take a few goes to get the hang of.
Also, players are totally used to, if they are on the mark, then they are on the mark. Yet, you look at the AFL, so often someone who has done a lot of running and is cooked, will call “I’ll get it” and push the bloke on the mark back into defence.
As soon as Player B shoots for goal, and the ball is gathered by Player C, now fullback, Player A becomes the forward. Player B stands five meters from them, Player C does the play-on kick out. You repeat. Player C kicks out. Player A marks (or not) and goes back for shot. Player C keeps running on from their kick to be person on mark. Player B runs back to be fullback. Player A has their shot.
Obviously, then Player B is now at fullback kicking out. Player C goes from standing on the mark to being the leader. Player A becomes the defender five metres away.
If you do this right you will get a great rhythm up, learn to lead and mark under pressure, kick out under pressure, have set shots with a man on the mark. You will have completed a cycle.
It is a beaut.
Do this for five cycles (net result of five shots each.)
Again, if kicking for real goals (over the fullback’s head) as opposed to practice goals (to the goal line) means the ball is always going over the fence, put fake goals in the middle of the ground. Better to practice kicking real goals through imaginary posts than practicing kicking motions you just would not use in a match.

As said, there are more drills than there is night. Chose the ones right for you.
We’ve all done one-on-one. It’s a beaut. Never gets old. Base running is vital, but you want to bust your gut and get match fit. The only real way to do that for footballers is, I believe, competitive drills. Not only do you use every muscle type, you do not take it as a given the ball will come to you, as in other drills. You must earn it. Time and again, AFL champs are telling m;, nice, mean, quiet, extroverted, whatever – the really good footballers are the ones who are competitive beasts. Here is one-on-one with a defensive bent.
Drill 7. The Spoiler.
Player A is the coach. Throws/kicks ball out for one-one-one contest between Players B and C. BUT. Whoever gets it back to Player A, Player A is now going to try to deliver it to them. So, you lost, no worries, they have the ball, cover your man!! Get between them and the delivery. If you don’t they will get three deliveries to Player A in 10 seconds, like in a game, you lose. If you turn the ball over Player A now looks after you.
Whoever wins, suck in air. Player A now plays the winner.
This way, the winner, often a better player, will have to compete against a fresh bloke until he loses. Like good players have to deal with rotating taggers.
It is a great drill for all. You pit yourself against the best of you. If you are the best, you have to push yourself twice as hard.
I don’t care what anybody says, the nature of football players is you will always try harder if competing for something, and get fitter for it.
The trouble with one-on-one it is always finishes with the ball winner delivering to a stationary target. But not anymore.
Drill 8. Long Range One-On-One.
Player A starts with the ball. Player B and C are 50 meters away. Player A kicks high to a long contest, like a bomb into a forward line, or out wide, like a ball rolling onto the wing, then pushes back hard for twenty while ball is in air/dispute.
Player A learns to time their lead. Waits for one of them to gain clear possession, then leads hard. It is very hard to kick to a leading target when you are knackered from competing, yet this is the game. And something we don’t practice. So practice it. Player A does NOT slow their lead for the ball. Does not prop and wait. If it is a bad kick, show it up for being a bad kick by running past it. Again, either rotate turns, or loser kicks, keeping the winner out there really testing themselves when they are knackered.
Drill 9. Chip and Charge.
Player A starts on goal line. Player B is thirty meters away, five meters off Player C. Player B calls, “Yep!” and starts leading hard. Player C is in pursuit. Player A takes off, running at player B, whatever angle the lead is, chips, keeps running, gut running, to either receive the handball back, or, if Player C can reach them, run past, as Player B goes back from mark as if in a game and Player C then stands the mark. Player B chips over to Player A, Player C chases to spoil. Player C and A are now thirty meters past Player B/further down the ground. They give the ball back, while sucking in air. Player B is now the kicker. Player C is the marker, A the spoiler. Repeat length of oval until goal can be kicked. Suck in air, go again from other goal line.
This is great because the easiest kick in footy comes as a result of hard work. Remember, this is not AFL, AFL is a brand. A great brand, but a brand. This is Aussie Rules. In a game almost all minor league footballers will run by for the handball, then stop when they do not get it, even though they already have momentum up, are probably free of their man, and if they just keep going a few more meters are in the perfect spot for that breaking the lines chip over the top, or now within range of a goal/breaking up the zoning.
Drill 10. The Long Lead.
Player A starts with the ball about 80 out. Player B is forward standing in goal square. C defender. A rolls ball forward, gathers, three hard steps then looks up. THIS is when Player B leads. Learn to spot that looking up motion. Kick, mark 30 out. Deliver back. Resume positions. Do this for three goes, then swap rolls. Everybody has a go at being a forward, a defender, and the player who delivers from the wing.
Now, to wrap it up with some fun, then a warm down.
Drill 11. Two- Up.1.
Remember – marking is a skill, but most coaches, not being key position players, or thinkers, seem to think you don’t have to practice it. One of the three most important skills in the game. No idea why.
Part One… be thirty metres from the kicker. Just do ‘first to two marks wins’, next player in. You are tired and don’t want to be there all night.
If the ball goes over both your heads, whoever gathers has to do a little one-two handball with the other contester, run past and drill it back to the tit of the kicker, then shuffle back for next mark. If you take a mark, with your body momentum forward, you must continue on to drill it to kicker then shuffle back. If you mark it with your body on the back foot, handball to the other contester, who plays on and drills it back to kicker. Not running flat out, but again, just practice good habits, always, always, always. Back foot, hand off, front foot take off. Kicker always gives them time to resettle.

Two-Up Pt.2.
Players who do practice two-up rarely do it properly. They are lazy. Vary rarely in a game will someone kick it 30 meters to a flat footed contest. Know your kicker. Have them five meters further back than their kicking limit, and have them bomb it long, as if into the forward line. Both markers move forward to the falling ball, as in a game.
MUCH more realistic! MUCH better practice. Much harder.
Drill 12. Back Foot, Forward Foot.
To finish, a nice bit of hard yards. Player A in goal square with ball, as if in kick-out. Players B and C out front. Player A dictates, as in kick-out with a nod, or simple call, or playing on to a certain direction. “Long.” “At Me.” “Wide.” Whoever of B or C leads, but they both must be onto it. If they mark on the back foot, or running away from goal, or stationary, they must handball or chip to the other player, running towards goal. If they mark of gather on the front foot they run through the mark and continue on and kick it themselves.
This teaches player who does not get kick out or rewarded lead, to push over to whoever will get it and support. And do so in a way that does not have their back to the goal. The really good players accommodate their running. The average ones only know straight lines. Read where the ball is going, push a bit back as it travels through the air towards the marker, and be aching forward, towards goal, when receiving. It also teaches back foot forward foot, running through the ball, and kicking running goals. Repeat until knackered. Swap with Player A at some stage to give them a go.
Drill 13. Three Man Two Drop.
See Training for Two for Three Drop. Most fun post training drill for two ever! Play in a triangle, but only Two Drop. When you mark you can kick it to whichever of the two players you want to. When one of them has dropped two, there are only two of you left. Then, when one of those has dropped two you have your winner for the night. Shuffle a lazy lap. You have touched the ball heaps. Gentle stretches every 100 meters. You should be as knackered as ten marathon men and have touched the footy about 200 or more times each.

Hit the beach.

As said in Training For Two. There are more drills here than you need to do. But in Training for Three there is a drill for every type of position. Pick and chose, swap and mix to suit you and keep it fresh. For a good night I would do:

All warm ups, maybe dropping one of the handball legs.
The Sammy Mitchell. (what a champ!)
Triangle Boot. (get my kicking right)
Three Man Weave Kick, (for pure fitness)
Three Man Weave Goal.
The Spoiler. (one competitive one should be enough)
Chip and Charge.
then finish with either
Back Foot Forward Foot or Two-Up No.2

A bloody good workout.

Next, Johnno’s brought his mate Louie along! Man, Training for FOUR!

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