Welcome to our brand new weekly newsletter, On the Grass. Our goal is to deliver maximum value to our coaching community, each and every week. If you have feedback or comments we welcome your thoughts. After all, it’s designed for you.

One of the things I loved the most about working in the English academy system was the number of exciting 1v1 players who could break the game open with attacking flair.

In these academies, we always coached from a strengths based approach, encouraging players to turn their attributes into super-strengths.

I remember working with one player who at times struggled to cope with failure, but with support and consistency from us we continually encouraged him to be brave, take players on, aim to win his 1v1s and express himself. Despite a lot of adversity, this persistence from both player and coach have allowed him to go on and flourish as a dangerous winger on the cusp of breaking into the professional game.

However, since moving between both Australia and New Zealand, I see less of these exciting 1v1 players and often wonder, why?

Is it because these countries value something else? Is it because of a significant focus on passing and possession over recent decades? Do we support or question the young player who dribbles or runs with the ball?

While I don’t have the answer to these questions, I do believe we have to do better to continually encourage young players to be brave on the ball, to take players on and retain possession individually under pressure, because the player that can dominate 1v1 moments can be the player who makes the difference for your team.

More importantly, by allowing and encouraging our players to stay on the ball, they will develop confidence and competence in their game.

Three things to consider.

  1. How much time are you spending within your practices each week on 1v1 work?
  2. Do you change the space, angle and type of 1v1s in your practice? From interference, tight spaces or longer areas to dribble or run with the ball, space will impact the outcome.
  3. Do you encourage bravery on the ball on game day when a result might be on the line?

One thing for you to try this week.

Experiment with different types of 1v1. Below are three links to 1v1s from the front, side and behind to test out at training with your players.

1v1 dealing with pressure

1v1 lock the line

1v1 attacking and defending

One critical resource on the topic.

We created a complete guide to 1v1s, including a clip from a recent webinar called Developing 1v1 Players.

The PDP team talk you through different types of 1v1 players and how you can support children in your team develop attributes that will help them thrive in the game.

Watch now

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