Football Fitness Games

After a long pre-season your fitness levels leading into the early part of the season were at a premium. It’s important to have strategies to maintain this fitness as the season progresses and the emphasis in training shifts towards strategy and skill.

General Guidelines

These four games can be implemented at the end or start of core training sessions and scheduled for either all players or those who require extra work.

Numbers should be kept to 5-6 per side to ensure each team member has a responsibility to run. The size of the field can be modified depending on what you’re aiming to achieve; a smaller playing area for more physical contact, a larger area to increase the distance each player has to cover.

1. Two-goal run

  • Field set up: In a rectangular field approximately 35m x 25m, two sets of goals are placed at each end of the field, with one in each corner. Each of the four goals (marked by plastic cones) is approximately 1.5m wide.
  • Rules: Football rules apply in this game, but there is no kicking the ball. The players can run, shepherd, tackle and handball as often as they like.
  • Scoring: A goal is scored when the ball is handballed through either goal at the end of the field. The ball must bounce at least once before it goes through the goals (i.e. goals can’t be scored on the full). A ball is placed behind each of the four goals so that when a goal is scored the opposing team can play on immediately. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
  • Time: Because the high intensity of this game, halves of between 4 and 7 minutes are recommended, with a 2 to 3 minute break.
  • Tips: Ensure the ‘umpire’ keeps the game flowing as much as possible so there are no ball ups and packs. If a pack forms, the umpire uses another football to restart play and the ball in the pack is dead.

2. Keepings off

  • Field set up: Split a football oval down the middle with a set of plastic cones, creating two equal playing fields. Goals are not required.
  • Rules: Football rules apply. Players can run, shepherd, tackle, kick and handball the ball as often as they like. One team starts with the ball at the beginning of the first half (coin toss). The other team starts with the ball at the beginning of the second half.
  • Scoring: Points are scored by running 10m and bouncing the ball, with one point for every bounce. If the ball is turned over, the opposing team has the opportunity to score points. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
  • Time: Because the high intensity of this game, halves of 4 to 7 minutes are recommended, with a 2 to 3 minute break.
  • Tips: Ensure the ‘umpire’ keeps the game flowing as much as possible so there are no ball ups and packs. If a pack forms the umpire uses another football to restart play and the ball in the pack is dead.

3. Double-handed touch

  • Field set up: This game is played in a rectangular field with the short ends of the field serving as the ‘touch’ lines.
  • Rules: Based on the rules of touch rugby. No kicking or tackling is permitted. The ball must be handballed backwards and then carried forward. Play stops when an opponent touches the ball-carrier with both hands. If after five sequences of play a goal hasn’t been scored, the ball is turned over.
  • Scoring: A goal occurs when the ball is touched on the ground at the end of the field. A number of balls are placed at each end of the field so the opposing team can play on immediately when a goal is scored, resuming from the defended touch line. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
  • Time: This game can be played for longer periods of time. Two 15 minute halves are suitable.
  • Tips: The ‘double hand’ aspect of this game is important. If only one hand is used to ‘stop’ a play, the game will not flow.

4. Swap ball

  • Field set up: This game can be played in any size field
  • Rules: Football rules apply but there is no kicking the ball. Players can run, shepherd, tackle and handball as often as they like
  • Scoring: One point is scored every time the ball is hand balled to a team-mate. Six points are scored if the team with possession of the ball can swap the ball in play for a ball which is placed randomly on the field by the ‘umpire’. This ‘swap’ ball is only placed on the field three to four times per half and is only on available for 30-45 seconds. Only the team with possession of the ball can swap the ball. The ball in play must be placed next to the swap ball before the new ball can be brought into play. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins
  • Time: Because the high intensity of this game, 5 - 7 minute halves are recommended
  • Tips: Ensure the ‘umpire’ keeps the game flowing as much as possible so there are no ball ups and packs. If a pack forms the umpire uses another football to restart play and the ball in the pack is dead
Concussion Management
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