Third-man running


In this practice, the front two are the primary unit. However, it will involve all other players in the attacking aspect of the practice to keep engagement high, and also because third-man running principles are applicable across the pitch – from the full back combining with the winger to the two central midfielders creating space. These ideas are not exclusive to the forwards.


Use a 30×30 area with two pairs inside the square who combine to release a runner. Here, the white pair work north to south, and the red pair east to west. This provides an added challenge of spatial awareness.


Begin as an unopposed drill and one ball for each group, then progress to a 2v2. The team in possession can make use of the supporting runner when in possession to make it 3v2. You can add stipulations, such as at least two players must touch the ball before transferring to the other side.


Communication is key in order to be on the same wavelength as your teammates (e.g. “set”, “right/left shoulder”). Weight of pass, spatial awareness and scanning also becomes more important as this practice is more dynamic and multidimensional. Disguise and timing come into play to ensure the correct pace of the supporting run and to keep the ball away from the other team.

1. Two teams set up to play in opposite directions, with the practice unopposed to start

2. An outside player passes to one of the central players. The two central players combine, while the original passer makes a forward run

3. The central players play a forward pass for the original passer to run on to and play to the opposite end

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