5 simple afl drills to keep the skills sharp

Stay on top of your skills with these 5 easy drills

If you want to be good at any sport, then performing the basics correctly will put you well on your way to being the best you can be.

Christmas holidays can often mean the footy boots and footballs are on ice while you chill out for a couple of weeks. Family games come out and the routine of training two or three nights a week goes on the back burner. Some athletes will continue to train, while others will be low key (in other words a little lazy), taking it easy. Being around friends and family is always amazing and there is a certain guilty pleasure to breaking the training rules and doing something different on your weeknights. But, if you are like me, the urge to have a kick will always ‘kick in’ at some point.

So ….. I have decided to put together 5 simple training drills that can be performed with some mates (boys or girls) to help keep your skills humming along. The aim is to have your skills sharp for your return to the track which in most cases is early to mid-January. Let’s be honest, it always feels better coming back after Xmas break tearing up the track.

These drills are designed for players aged 13 years and over, giving a variety of kicks that are game and training related. The skill drills are designed to incorporate different movements so your brain doesn’t forget the basics over the holidays. You can perform all the drills in the one session, or pick two or three at a time. It really depends on how you plan your session.

So grab some friends and get out there twice a week and incorporate these drills into your morning or afternoon skills sessions.


Drill 1 – Warm up drills

This is all about freestyle and building your understanding of the ball. Before you start your skills session, remember to always warm up. Injuries are not much fun so try avoid them. Next…grab a friend, or ask a parent or footy coach to join you to assist with with your skills training. Remember to adjust your kicking distance based on your age and skill level. The aim is to hit you kicks and have quality handballs. Slow everything if needed to ensure you have a quality session and get the results you want.

Pairs Handballing

Stand 2 metres apart – set the timer for 1 minute, begin using left and right hand using one football. Complete 3 minutes of this routine. Then introduce another football (two footballs). Set the timer for 1 minute again and begin with two balls using your right hand only for 30 seconds, then change to your left hand only for 30 seconds. Complete 3 minutes of this routine x 2. Once you improve, you can alternate left and right hand for 1 minute x 3. To make this harder, start to increase the distance from 2 metres apart to 3 metres apart, spreading as far apart as 5 metres if you can handball that far.

Pairs kicking

Stand 10 meters apart, kicking to each other using left and right foot for 1 min 30 secs. Make sure you keep the ball straight when dropping it so all your kicks are accurate. Move back to 15 metres apart and repeat this process for another 1 min 30 secs using your preferred kicking leg only. Kick at this distance for about 1 to 2 minutes. Next is taking it back to 20-25 metres, introducing a short lead. Once you mark the ball, get back off the mark, get your feet set and kick to the lead of your partner. These leads can be left or right or at the kicker. The kicking distance just has to be 20 metres. Kick and forward to each other on the lead for 2 minutes. Use your preferred leg only. You can repeat this process as many times as you like. Lastly, go back to standing 30 metres apart and, if you can kick further, go back to 40 or even 50 metres apart. Begin kicking to each other, but kick the ball really high. The aim of this exercise is to practice marking the ball at the highest point. So make sure you jump up high to mark the ball keeping your body in line with the ball.

Drill 2 – Kick to Triple leads

In this drill, there are two players – player A, who is based at the top of the 50-metre arc, and player B, based at the top of the goal square. The drill begins with player A throwing the ball up to themselves in the air. They grab the ball and get back off the mark. As this is happening, player B is waiting to lead, then leads to the right pocket on a fast 25m lead. Player A kicks the ball to the lead of Player B. Player B takes the mark and kicks the ball back to Player A and makes his/her way back to the goal square ready to lead again. Player A throws the ball in the air again and player B now makes another fast lead out the left pocket. The process repeats one more time with the final lead directly towards the kicker taking the mark about 35m out from goal. Finish with a set shot then change roles.

The first key teaching point of this drill is the kicker (player A) getting back off the mark and then getting ready looking inside 50 finding a leading target. The other teaching point is for player B, who provides leads to the kicker. The leading player has three solid repeat efforts but must make sure he/she does not lead too early. Remember, you need the space in front of you, if you have to hold a few moments and wait for the kicker that’s OK. Once the kicker has performed 3 kicks, swap over with leading player and perform this routine again. Rest for a few moments and repeat this process 5 times, giving each player 15 kicks and 15 leads.

Drill 3 – On the clock 3min on 2min off

The aim of this drill is to have movement, adding in a variety of kicks and continuous movement for the entire 3 mins. Four or five training friends are based inside the 50m zone with one football or inside the center square area (either are fine). One of you has a watch or starts a timer. You simply pass the ball around inside the arc for the time allocated. No hand balling is allowed, only kicking.  A player takes the mark and gets back off the mark to kick to the next option. Players without the ball provide leads in any direction they want to the person with the ball. The idea is to have fun with the drill, mixing it up with short leads and or long kicks. Players can also be stationary targets if they like. The only rule is that you must get back off your mark once you mark the ball and find the next option. Rest for 2 mins and go again. Repeat this 3 times and up to 5 times for a nice workout.

Drill 4 – 6 point kicking drill

This drill is designed to help you practice a range of different kicks. As you can see, there are different types of kicks that are all necessary on game day. Here you will need some markers and some friends to help make the drill work correctly. Start by walking through the drill first, so all participants understand what the drill is about. Think about the various kinds of kicks and where they will be used on game day and at training. Use one football only to get started and, if you have more people join in, then you might be able to use two footballs. Start the clock and run this drill for 3 minutes, taking note of how many times the ball hits the ground.


Drill 5 – Agility / Lead / Kick

In the drill there are two players, Player A and player B. You will also need four cones/markers. Set up a diamond with the markers and if possible they can be different colors. Otherwise just number each marker from 1 – 4. This diamond can be set up anywhere on the field. Player A starts in the middle of the diamond. He/she is then ready to follow the pattern that will be yelled out from player B. Player B starts about 40m away from the diamond. When ready player B will shout either two, three or four colors or either two, three or four numbers. Once called out player A listens and reacts. He/she races to each of those points going around the markers with quick feet staying in control not collapsing or falling over. Make the turns around the markers fast an quick. After the final marker is reached Player A then makes a lead in any direction they want preferably in the direction of the kicker. Be creative with your lead but make sure you lead fast into the kickers vision. The kicker, Player B, will kick to the lead. Player B can run and carry the football then kick to player A or they may choose to back get off the mark and then kick to player A. Player B controls how they kick and the method behind it. Player A repeats this process for 4 efforts then swap roles. To make this harder introduce a third player who will shadow and follow player A making it tough for them and then stay on the lead and try spoil the ball. This drill is designed for some short efforts and kicks to a player on the burst.