(Covid) Training for Two

With the Covid-19 epidemic local footy’s been stabbed in the heart! Some states like Tassie are up and running, others are restricted to training for ten, but with no footies and no contact and a fistful of other rules that are necessary, but break your football heart.


Many clubs are erring on the side of caution and holding off.


But why wait? If you’re a real footballer, if you have the hunger, nothing will stop you.


Especially when you are still allowed to have a social kick with one other person. So I’m dusting off Part 2 of my 6 part series, Training For Six, and updating it a bit.


Young, old, male, female. All it takes is one good friend.


Actually, that’s a fib. All it takes is someone who wants to get or stay as football fit as you. You don’t have to be friends at all, really.


In a bad year for our club, determined to do extra, I found a young bloke having a kick and asked if I could join him. Simple. For three years, over summer, thought winter, he called me “Old Man”, as a 19-year-old will do. He was a pisser. I really liked him! We have nothing in common, or would never meet outside the oval we kick on. But that’s what’s so good about it. We were teammates in football.


Thought the same. To play good, you work.






This is football training, not running. Any coaching manual, athletics club (which I HIGHLY recommend), or watching of AFL pre-season training, will teach you about running. There will be more drills in here than you will use in one night. Kids to seniors, hacks to semi pros, just chose what’s best for you.



Warm-up No.1. Rolling It Over

Doing laps to warm up? What a waste of time! And football! I wish some parts of prehistory would hurry up and die.
Slowly jog up and down the middle of the ground, rolling the ball at your feet, bouncing it, picking it up, chipping it forward, between each other. Just rolling the legs over. Get every muscle from back to hammies working. Get your touches in.


Remember, another part of the dinosaur age that should die is stretching before you’re properly warmed up. There is simply no point. Cold muscles are not pliable. Stretches while jogging two easy laps do NOTHING!
Pick up the pace each length of the ground, continuing to use the footy, until you have a slight sweat, THEN stretch.
The next few involve no mucking around. Each one is short and sharp.



Warm-up No.2. Speed Ups

Get your eye-hand working. Start 30 meters apart with simple straight kicking. A few each foot, move to 25 metres. To 15 metres. Then go to handball, to ten metres, to five, to two. Once you’re in that close, really punch them out as hard as you can. Get your reflexes up. Then reverse, working back out.



Warm Up No.3. Aiming

Take turns.


Player 1 stays still for a minute while handballing down low to the left and up high to the right and straight at the eyes and then at the chest of Player 2. Nothing too hard, just get them in the rhythm of moving and gathering, watching the ball. Player 2 handballs straight back to Player 1. Then, after said minute, swap roles.



Warm-up No.4. To Hand

Modern football is so much faster, better in close than in days gone. Handball is expected to be an art. Again, take turns. Player 1 is stationary, Player 2, every time Player 1 goes to handball it, quickly puts a hand low or high or left or right, or puts hands straight out. The hand-baller aims for the hand, as if it is someone calling for the ball in a crowded arms and legs pack. Great for reflexes, spotting targets in traffic, and spotting exactly where you have to handball to while the ball is already in motion in your hand.


Each time, the receiver handballs straight back, then, after a minute swaps.



Warm-up No.4.



Warm-up No.5. Tick Tock

Now get your legs working. One of you simply stays still while the other works left and right for ten handballs, returning the ones on their right with their right, and the ones on the left with their left. Then swap.
In all of these try and get your handballs spinning right.



Warm-up No.6. Fetch

Stand side by side. Stationary, Player 1 handballs out in front, sometimes along the ground, sometimes in air. Not a lot, just enough for Player 2 to get in a handful of good ¾-pace strides, turn, and handball back to you, then, in following through, be back to go again. Player 1 rolls ball out five-ten times, then roles swap.


The idea of all these warm up is you only do a few of each, warm up every muscle, and will have touched the ball over 100 times before you even start. In the time it takes boring people to run five laps. They say footballers are creatures of habit. And all the greats practiced that bit more than the rest. You don’t have to. Just be smarter.



Warm-up No.6.



Warm-up No.7: Yo-Yo.

(I swear by this.)


Good on any night, not just in the Covid Era. Stand 20 metres apart, no more, facing each other. One of you with the ball.


On “Go” each of you run backwards, away from each other, for about ten metres, exactly as if pushing back off your mark.


As THE BALL CARRIER, stops going backwards and starts going forward, the other player does the same, leading at them.


Three hard steps, kick.


The hardest kick there is: 25 metres to someone leading straight at you.


By the time you have followed through on your kick, and the other person had pulled up form their short lead/mark, you will both be where you started, 20 metres away from each other.


Repeat. Both players run backwards, but this time, obviously, the other player has the ball/will dictate when to lead forward/kick.


Do this for ten kicks each without stopping. You will really feel it in your quads, calves, shins. Have a break, then do it on your opposite foot for ten each.


Not only will you be well-stretched, you will have practiced football’s best kick, and marking running straight at the ball.


Notice all these drills have a flow/rhythm to them if done right. They are continuous.




Tonight/day we will practice ever type of kick.
To the player leading at you.
Running away.
Chips to the corridor.
Short, long.
And this; The player leading towards and across you.



DRILL 1: Pendulum

Put two cones/markers/bits of clothing 45 metres apart. Player 1 starts ten metres to the left and ten metres forward of your cone. Player 2 does the same for theirs. Player 1 starts with the ball.


Both of you sprint back and around your cone. As player 1 rounds their cone they will spot up Player 2, who has rounded theirs and is now moving forward at 45 degrees. Player 1 runs towards where they are heading, kicks, KEEPS running in the direction of their until Player 2 mark it (a HUGE skill to practice!!).


Then, both of you sprint back to and around your cones, again, only now Player 1 leads forward and across, and Player two heads towards where they are going and kicks. Repeat for five kicks each, then suck in air and swap ends.


Go again.



DRILL 2: Corridor Chip

This is a great game day tactics drill for two. Player one jogs up and down the corridor, while Player 2 runs the boundary. Player one chips the ball out in front of Player 2, who marks, and either pivots to be facing the middle, or pushes back as though there is a player on the mark, then spots up Player 1, treading water in the middle. Player 2 chips to them in the corridor, then continues jogging the boundary. Player 1 again kicks the ball out in front of them.



Repeat this for a lap of the oval, then swap. Player 2 now gets a break by cruising the corridor, Player 1 works hard.


Remember, always, don’t go through the motions! Your corners will be broad and soft. You will not learn to genuinely use your vision. At all! What a waste of time! Coaches who instruct their team to do a drill, and don’t enforce them looking in all directions before delivering it are poor in my books. Half coaches. Player who just take off towards the next cone without looking around first are lazy.


ALWAYS visualise a game.


Player 2 get the ball, push back hard, CUT your chest from facing along the boundary, to the inside chip. Or, if you are playing on; SHARP TURN your body to face the corridor.



Drill 2.



DRILL 3: Five-to-One

Stationary Player 1 has the ball. Stays stationary for the entire drill. Player 2 starts 30 metres away. Leads hard to left. Player I puts it out front of lead. Player 2 runs onto mark, delivers on left to stationary Player 1, then sprints hard across to right. When good distance is reached, stationary Player 1 then puts ball out to right. Running Player 2 marks on the run, then straightens and kicks on the right.


Very important. Do not stop on marking and swivel back onto your preferred foot. Mark and run through the ball.



Take those three ripping steps when you get it and you are straightening towards the stationary player.


It works like a weave, almost – left, right, left right, for five kicks, by which time you will be buggered. While the leader is sucking in air, the ball is delivered to them. They become the stationary player. Have five kicks to recover while the other player has a go. Left, right, without a break for five kicks.


Then back again to original set up for four each.


Three each.


Really lengthen your leads for the two and the one. You should be well warm enough now to do longer kicks. Know and test your teammate’s range.




Obviously, you are not going to do every drill here. Chose the ones for you both, and, between each drill, just kick the footy to each other until your breath is back. It is like shuffling two laps between drills, but you will have touched the ball an extra 60-100 times by the end of the night.


Until now we have been fairly down the line sort of stuff. Time to acknowledge that it is an oval ball, and that the game is often chaos. And to kick goals.



DRILL 4: Figure Eight

This is a play on drill.


Find an oval with no fence hugging the boundary. If that can’t be done, use jumpers or whatever to make some goals on the fifty meter line, to imitate the boundary angle. Each played stands ten metres back from either point post. One from left point post, one from right. Player on left just in front of the boundary, the right just behind the boundary.
Player on left kicks for goal from near boundary on the run. Player on right, behind opposite boundary marks shot at goal, pushes back hard to about 4o out, sprints in an arch to be running towards goal just inside the boundary, and shoots on the run, flat pace. First player by now has jogged into a position behind the goals to mark the kick, and the drill repeats.


After ten shots each, swap ends. This way you will both practice your left and right.


Dribble goals are fine, too. It just means the receiver has to come in closer behind the goal line, and jog further back.


This drill is also a great warm-down. Not all of these drills have to be done in this order. Or at all. They are just ideas. You can always innovate.



Drill 4.



DRILL 5: Lucky Dip

Player 1 behind goals. Player 2 is 25 metres out. Player 1 nods left or right or back, inducing lead. Or drops bouncing ball short, or kicks it a mile straight up. The trick is the player out front must mark or gather for five shots at goal. No snaps. Must gather, run hard, with those three ripping steps, through the ball, straighten and kick.


Some shots will end up being from only fifteen metres out, others from distance. Always run to make your distance.
ALWAYS kick confident goals. By this I mean, do not worry about the player on the goal line having to run for it. You do not practice kicking to the fullback on a Saturday, you practice kicking well over their reach. They are very different types of kick. Hone the right one. Know your range.


If you are the defender, and they kick it in high and you can mark it within play, do so. Even if it would have gone through, yell, “No goal”


Again, this exercise should have a rhythm to it. You are getting fit while practising your goal kicking, and, at the same time, doing football running, with changes of pace as opposed to athletics, or laps.


This drill is also important because it teaches you to kick for goal when you are tired. So often the kicker gets the first two or three goals, then sprays the last couple.


After you have had your five continuous goes swap. Have a break kicking from the goal square while the other player has a go.



ON SOCIAL DISTANCING: These next few are contact. It would be up to the individuals as to whether of not they did them. If it is not allowed in your area right now, tuck them away. As said; These drills are for those who want to do extra. Either over summer, or during the season. They will come in handy one day.


Players like that are the ones I WANT in my team!! You build premierships around them.



DRILL 6: Dummy

Put a wheelie bin on the oval. Or cricket stumps. Or cardboard slab box.


One player guards it from about two metres out, while the other tries to get around them with the handball, hitting the top of the bin (about a player’s hand height). Whether it hits the bin, is slapped down or misses, keep getting it and going again for a minute, then swap. Keep count. See who hits it the most.



DRILL 7: Follow Up Fetch

We’ve all done the one where the coach stays still and keeps belting the ball away, making you bring it back to him again and again like a golden retriever. Only this time, they kick or throw or slap it away, you mark or run onto it, handball or kick it back, then run hard to get the handball back off them, pushing through for ten. The you stop and you become the coach. Get rid of the ball however you want, then they become the fetcher, gathering, delivering to you, then pushing hard to get the handball back.


Repeat for as long as you like.


This teaches you to follow-up on your possessions, not just hand the ball back. Also, different types of running. Gathering the ball and sprinting for a receive and steadying to deliver as all different paces, different motions.



DRILL 8: Two-Way Slingshot

This is a ripper! It will take some running. Each of you start on a point post either side of the goals. You are going to run down the ground on one side, while they run on the other, kicking it to each other. BUT! There is to be NO kicking around corners.


Player 1 leads out from their point post towards other end of ground. Player 2, starting on point post to other side of goals, has the ball and picks where Player 1 is running to, not where Player 1 is. Player 2 simply runs in a straight line at that spot, and puts a kick up for Player 1 to run onto. Player 1 now has the ball, and is 30 metres further down the oval than the kicker. So while Player 2 sprints down the ground on their side, leading, Player 1 now turns, sees where Player 2 is running to, runs towards that, and simply puts the ball up for Player 2 to run onto.


Repeat down the ground. Kick goal when one of you is in range. Suck in air and go back. If you do the drill right it shouldn’t matter if you are on your left or right, all you are doing is practicing kicking in straight lines… to players on the move.


Perfect for practicing kicking to wingers, or the switch.


And gets you bloody fit!



Drill 8.



DRILL 9: Snap or Dare

Make your own goals 70metres apart. Ball starts kicked up high between you both. Play on no matter what. You will be in range from the second you get it, but the other player will be there. Either snap or break free. First to three goals wins. Swap kicking ends.


Great for tackling. And kicking goals under pressure. Watch those hips!



DRILL 9: 1

Player 1 starts 30 meters out from goal with their back to it. Player 2 starts 40 out with their back to it. Player 1 has the ball. Throws or kicks ball over Player 2’s head, then sets off after them. Player 2 must gather the ball, turn, chose whether to snap over approaching player, or get around them.


The defender gets to practice corralling a forward to shoot from long, low percentage range.



DRILL 10: Cant-have-its

Simple, tough. Learn bodywork. Player 1 places ball in front of themselves. Player 2 is behind them. On “Go” player two has to see how long until they can get around Player 1 to get the ball. Repeat for three goes, then swap.



DRILL 11. Ouches

Player 1 stands five metres in front of wheelie bin/cricket stumps, empty slab box. Player 2 has ball. Player 2 must get around Player 1 tackle and hit bin with handball. Only do off three steps. Do not want to kill each other. Hit in three times them swap.


The reason the bin is only five metres away is so Player 2 has the chance to lift their hands up if tackled and still hit the bin.


Practice: tackling, handballing in tackles, getting around players, handball.



DRILL 12. Two-On.

Not everybody wants to do competitive work. Injuries and all. Cool. But if you do, here’s a beauty.


Wheelie Bin/cricket etc… in goal square, or on softest part of ground. Again, this is not AFL, there will always be a part of the oval softer than others. Two-On is like one-on-one basketball.


Player 1 starts with back to bin, twenty metres from it. Player 2 starts with back to bin, 25 metres from bin (five further metres away). Player one throws ball up, over Player 2’s head, or along the ground past them, and it’s on! There is holding the ball. Be honest about it. If you are out of handball range of the bin when tackled, do what you would in a game; hold the ball in, concede the free. They will have to try and get around you. If you are within range when tackled down, try and handball.


If you miss the bin with your shot, reload. This time Player 2 starts 20 metres from bin, back turned to it, throwing all just past Player 1, 25 metres from bin, back to it. Hit bin with handball = one goal. First to three goals wins.
The reason both players start with their backs to the bin, is they will not get a good run-up on each other, so impact will be minimal. It is about wrapping up, or evading, not collision.



DRILL 13: Sausages

We all love a goal.


One defender, one forward. Defender takes off from goal line with the ball, while forward, out on the oval, leads hard from wherever they want to. Defender runs out to about 15-20 from goal and drills a short or medium pass for long shot. While forward lines up set shot on goal, defender runs back to defend line. Sucks in air while forward lines up and shoots. When defender marks or gathers ball, forward then takes off again, hard, on long lead, (like from a kick-out) Defender, at the same time, is running the second they have got the ball, taking off with those three ripping steps, towards where forward is leading to, puts ball out in front, with small/medium kick, etc… repeat for ten shots, then swap.


Again. Rhythm. Lots of football running. Goal practice. Putting it out in front of someone at genuine match day leading pace. Set shots. Marking long bombs at goal. Has the lot.


Forward’s note. When you mark it PRACTICE ten hard, quick as possible steps backwards/away from imaginary player on mark, without turning your back to goal. Then, steady, deep breath, go through your routine.


Defender’s note. If they are kicking good, deep goals, just run ball back at half place until you are over the goal line again, then explode for those first three ripping steps.



If you want to up the ante/raise your standards; forward is not to break stride when they lead. If the defender does a bad or hanging kick, rather than wait for it, just keep running. Show them how far off the target they would have been on game day if someone was on their hammer.


It is not a good kick just because it spins right. Practice having standards with your kicking, and not accepting ‘good enough’.


Another team in my old comp did a “break from the centre and look to the leading forward” drill. We all did drills like that. We all still do. But their coach instructed their forwards to run past a bad kick rather than wait for it. They had to hit the forward leading flat out for the kick to count, and could not go in for the night until they had done so, as a group, 25 times. At the start of the season it took them 130 tries. By the end, it took them about 30-35. We did not do this. They won the flag. We did not make finals. Their coach was the duck’s guts.


Again. Goals must go OVER the reach of the full back, or they are not a goal.


DRILL 14 (my favourite). Ten Crunch

As a defender for most of my 38 seasons, the hardest forward to play on were those who landed on their feet. I was okay in the air, could spoil most of them, but the ones who landed running were always a problem.


Too often, when middle and lower level coaches finally do marking drills (most are midfielders, or ex midfielders, who don’t even think of it/only think like midfielders), the contest stops after the marking contest, or, there are rovers bustling through. I hate that!


How good are Gawn and Grundy! Fetching their own ball, thumping it forward!


You and your training partner, Player 1 and 2, stand no more than three metres apart, and kick the ball straight in the air. You compete for a mark.


If you mark it, a point to you. If they do, a point to them.


BUT! If neither of you mark it, the first to pick it up off the ground gets the point.


First to five points wins. Go again.


So simple.


There’s no run-up to kill each other with. You’re learning the vital tasks of using your body, while keeping your eyes on the ball. A ripper drill for backmen, and ruckmen. And a great chance to have one over your mate!





I always finish with this, and have for 38 years of footy, because it’s FUN! And it has helped my footy HEAPS over the years. Both the distance in my kicking, and reading the ball off the boot, and attacking my marks.
The crown of Training for Two…


DRILL 15: Three-Drop

Stand 35 metres apart. DROP PUNTS ONLY. Kick the ball to each other. First player to drop three marks loses.


The trick, obviously, is to bomb it a mile in the air, or just over their head, or just at their feet, like a drop volley.


Rules: 1. No chest marks! If the ball hits your chest, even bounces off it back into your hands, you get a point. Three points loses.


Rule 2. HONESTY! If the ball is in range, you HAVE TO GO FOR IT! If your mate is a cheat, and can’t beat you fair and square, don’t play. Seeing a kicking partner chase a ball as hard as they can, reach for it knowing they probably won’t mark it, getting a finger to it and being one mark closer to being beaten is great! It means they’re a mate. It means they have character, and understand he essence of football.


Sometimes you only get a tip of a finger to it. Especially if they have bombed it over your head and you are running back with the flight. Put your hand up. “Yep. Dropped it” and call the score – say, “2:1”


Rule 3. If you do a kick so bad they cannot get to it, they do not get a point. You only get a point if you DROP a mark. You have wasted a kick.


Tip 1. At first you will think the game will go all night. Neither of you, if you are any good, will be dropping your marks. Run them around like a tennis rally from the back of the court. Aim to the left, to the right, if they drop one short, bomb one over their head, getting them running back for it. Once fatigue sets in, you will be amazed at how quickly one of you will drop three in quick time.


Tip 2. Mix it up. Drill the odd one straight at them. Look for their weaknesses.


There is often a wind advantage. As soon as you have a winner, swap ends. Go again. Mug’s away.


Three-Drop is a beaut!


Thanks for coming to Training For Two. Remember, doubtful you would do all of these, but chose the ones that suit you.


Good luck to all, with the Virus, footy and life!






Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE



  1. Rulebook says

    Old dog as always love the passion probably my note of caution is some of those drills require both players to be reasonably skilled you wouldn’t want to be trying them with the enthusiastic tries hard kid but there is certainly plenty of worthwhile material there ( I used to be enthralled watching,Michael Aish and Neville Roberts booting crap out of the footy at each other from a close distance taking it in the hands with a friendly wager on who would drop the footy first ) Old dog,Paul Puopolo you would be a huge fan of,ALWAYS did extra work after training had finished playing for,Norwood he used to a variation of the bin game aiming at it running up and down the ground by himself as Nathan Bassett had told him he had to improve his kicking to get picked up what a success story! Thanks Old dog

  2. Matt Zurbo says

    On ya, Rulebook. And, yes, I am a fan of Puopa, of course!!

  3. Matt Zurbo says

    P.S. My skills are not great, but I manage! Haha! (Sometimes drive the other bloke nuts!)

  4. Malby Dangles says

    Great stuff. Makes me want to play again

Leave a Comment