#Technical Activation


Tony Colbert, 08 Nov 2021


Technical activation is a highly functional training protocol focusing on movement, technique and passing coordination. It is part of an overall training methodology based on high frequency and volume of repetition.

The protocol is based on football-movement specificity and has been fine-tuned to create a repertoire of exercises that take on board every movement pattern and passing technique while also stimulating technical and awareness developmental pathways. It is also a good way of preparing players for full training, both technically and physically.

The training programme is implemented through a variety of circuits that incorporate all conceivable scenarios of passing, receiving and movement. Not only is it a comprehensive technical warm-up protocol that fully prepares players for training while simultaneously reinforcing technical learning, it is also a standalone developmental programme for developing young players.

An introduction to technical activation
The rationale behind the methodology
Principle 1: Frequency of repetition
Principle 2: Balanced technical exposure
Principle 3: Good footballing habits
Principle 4: Technical cohesion
Principle 5: Quick feet coordination
Principle 6: Technical tempo and urgency
Final thoughts

The rationale behind the methodology

The training methodology is based on overloads in accordance with the principle of "specific adaptation to imposed demand" (SAID), which has been adapted to the very specific and unique pathways, from football technique to technical coordination, movement and spatial awareness.

The imposed demand is determined by the frequency and volume required to overload on very specific and unique pathways, from football technique to technical coordination, football movement and spatial awareness. As adapted to football based on the above, this helps to facilitate and establish technical development and reinforcement in a balanced and efficient way.

A variety of circuits helps implement all conceivable scenarios


Technical activation is a training methodology with the specific objective of providing a protocol consisting of repetition learning with specific adaptation opportunities, thus helping establish the development and reinforcement of balanced technique, technical coordination and football movement efficiency. At the same time, it creates pathways for technical and spatial awareness that can ingrain good football habits (habitual football reflexes).

As part of a well-structured general football development programme, technical activation can provide a platform for achieving balanced technical literacy that, in turn, may help technical individuality and creativity to flourish by giving players the confidence and appropriate footballing skill set to broaden their technical vocabulary and horizons.

Scope of technical activation training drills

  • From 2 players and 1 ball to 14 players and 2 balls moving simultaneously.
  • One set-up for a small group of at least 3 players, to multiple (2 to 4) set-ups for a full squad of players.
  • From 5 to 30 metres passing range, from tight spaces to longer passes.
  • Circuit: grid drills with 6 to 20 technical variations and movement combinations per circuit grid.
  • Up to 15 ball contacts per minute for the most densely concentrated drills.
  • Up to 30 seconds of continuous action for individual repetitions of technical skills (for small groups of 3 to 5 players).
  • 2 to 8 minutes’ duration for workload intervals.
  • The drill circuit grids encompass all conceivable patterns for receiving the ball as well as for movements with and without the ball and passing.

Training focus and uniqueness

  • Frequency and repetition, concentrated (supramaximal) technical exposure per unit of time (up to 15 ball contacts per minute per player). 
  • Continuous ball rotation with full left/right movement rotation, for training efficiency per unit of time.
  • Grid circuit training protocol used for very high repetition of football interconnections and communications between multiple players in a variety of technical scenarios: the grid is the fulcrum for multiple technical communications between players.
  • A wide range of technical movement, coordination and passing scenarios.
  • Emphasis on technique and technical movement patterns, with naturally imposed passing scenarios to promote balanced use of left/right foot.
  • Emphasis on left/right foot passing appropriateness.
FIFA Technical Expert Tony Colbert with a player at St. George's park
  • Emphasis on spatial awareness traits to help the development of good footballing habits (instinctive, habitual reflexes).
  • A variety of multiple-player reciprocal movements, i.e. timing of movement and of passing combinations between players.
  • Specific emphasis on helping develop functional quick feet for coordination of technical and football movements.
  • Emphasis on high-tempo pressure in order to stimulate technical quality, timing and cohesion between players.
  • Very high level of concentration needed to prevent the technical breakdown of drill.
  • Short passing distances of 5 metres to longer-range passes of 30 to 40 metres to improve passing quality.

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