Grassroots Coaching

Clock Coaching – Improve third man runs

This is a clock coaching session, designed to improve passing, support with a focus on improving third man runs off the ball.

I first came across clock coaching when I coached at Bournemouth FC many years ago. The then manager, Tony Pulis and First Team Coach Dave Williams were big advocates of clock coaching, particularly for young players.



  • The basic organisation is that the players form a clock shape, the size will depend on the number of players and what the focus of the theme of the session is.
  • In this case, there are 8 – 10 players in a clock shape of approximately 20 – 25 yards in diameter.


  • To start, there is one ball, which is passed across the clock.
  • The receiving player sets it to their right, to a player who makes a good supporting angle.
  • The players to the left of the receiving player, makes a timed third man run to receive a pass inside the clock.
  • They then pass to a player on the outside and the practice is repeated.


  • The players should be on their toes, alert and ready to receive a pass.
  • The player to the right of the receiving players should make an angle to support the receiving players and receive a pass from them.
  • The players to the left of the receiving players should time and communicate their run, to receive a pass in the middle of the clock, then pass it to a free player on the outside.
  • After passing, the player makes a run to take a position on the outside of the clock
  • Repeat the practice.
  • Players should constantly adjust their positions on the outside of the clock to make sure there is a constant shape and distance to the clock.
  • Encourage players to pass first time if possible.
  • Encourage players to time and communicate both their support and their third man runs.
  • Accuracy, quality and weight of passing is very important.


  • Introduce a second ball
  • Make the clock bigger or smaller to encourage different types of passing
  • Set challenges of say 10 successful passes without the ball going out of the clock


Posted in
Attacking Attacking Sessions FA Level 1 FA Level 2 Hot Coaching Topics Uncategorized