Train Like the Dutch

There are a number of books that I return to again and again for ideas and inspiration. Dutch Total Football is one of those books.


The author, Terry Michler, has studied the Dutch methodology over many years. This book is a in-depth review of all aspects of their system. It includes a history of Dutch soccer beginning with the, ‘Clockwork Orange’ teams of the 1970’s and discusses Dutch traits, the role of street soccer and the Ajax Youth Development system.

The part of the book I refer to the most are the chapters of practical drills, exercises and small-sided games that the Dutch use to train their players to be technically skillful and tactically aware.

Here are a few exercises ‘Y’ Drills that are commonly used in Dutch training sessions.




Y drill (Up – turn – pass)

Set up
In an area 30 (L) x 25 (W), 4 positions, 9 players, 2 balls

Rotation – follow the pass


  • First pass goes to the middle player
  • Middle player – check, receive and turn to the top corner player
  • After turning, pass to the corner player
  • Corner player – check, receive pass, dribble back
  • Finish with a pass to the waiting player

Coaching Points

  • Quality of the first pass – pass to the proper foot for the turning movement
  • Clean turn and good positioning of the ball for the pass
  • Clean receiving touch and a controlled dribble
  • Good final pass



Y drill (Up – turn – 1-2)

Set up
Same as the previous drill with same rotation.

Starts the same as the previous drill. The change comes with a 1-2 at the top corner with the middle and corner player. The drill finishes as before, with a controlled dribble and a pass.

Coaching Points

  • The middle player must move quickly following his pass to get in position for a 1-2 with the corner player
  • The 1-2 should be quick and clean, with the middle player giving off a good pass
  • The corner player continues with the short dribble and a good final pass
  • Maintain the quality of the drill to the very last touch of the last receiving player




Y drill (Up – back – 1-2)

Set up
In an area 30 (length) x 25 (width) yards, 4 positions, 9 players,
2 balls. Set up extra drills as needed, try to avoid more players


  • The sequence is:
  • First ball goes to the middle player
  • Return pass on the angle to the starting player
  • Next pass goes deep, diagonal to the corner player
  • Middle player moves towards the corner player for a 1-2
  • Corner and middle player combine for a 1-2
  • A dribble
  • Finish with a pass to the waiting player

Coaching Points

  • It’s always about the quality of the pass
  • Proper foot
  • Open up on the angle
  • Quick, clean 1-2
  • Controlled dribble
  • Firm pass back to waiting player
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These are just a handful of exercises from more than 120 diagrams and descriptions that are included in the book.

I’m always able to go to this book for great ideas to inspire me to keep my training sessions fresh.

Have a great day!






About the Author Michael Saif

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