This 1v1 practice is designed to provide players with a chance to work on 1v1 attacking and defending from a variety of angles. The narrow nature of the pitches means that going forward is encouraged and of course, the designs you see here could be adapted for 2v2 scenarios as well.

About the Video

In the video below, Dave will talk you through the structure of the practice, various outcomes and how you can adapt it for your players.

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Additional Information

The structure of this practice lends itself to a number of outcomes, including:

  • 1v1 attack/defence
  • Retention of the ball under pressure
  • Dribbling
  • Running with the ball (RWTB)
  • Counter attack
  • Physical conditioning
  • Emergency defending
  • Finishing/scoring

Key elements to observe and encourage are:

  • Decision making in and out of possession
  • Ability to see and exploit space
  • Desire to defend, persistence, resilience and emotional outcomes
  • Creativity and risk taking on the ball
  • Accurate finishing

Practice Overview

Topic: 1v1s

No. of Players: 4-12

Goalkeepers: Optional

Practice Type: Skill practice

Offsides: N/A

Pitch Size: 30 x 20

Timing: 12-20 mins

Age Group: 6+

Interpreting the Diagrams

The key below outlines what the images mean on the diagrams.

If you have questions about the practices, contact the PDP Team or share your views on the Player Development Project Coaching Community.

Key For Diagrams
soccer training diagram


1v1 attacking
Area set up to accommodate 12 players. A player at each end of each narrow pitch is the server/defender whilst the player at the other end is the attacker. If the defender wins the ball, they can transition to attack and try to score. Coach can choose whether the players stay on their pitch or rotate stations.
defender and attacker 1 on 1 drill
Server/defender passes the ball to their opponent to create a 1v1 from the front. This pass represents a turnover. The attacker is tasked with dribbling through the gate or scoring in the goal. If the defender wins possession they can counter-attack. Coaches can limit time for each game or play until a goal is scored or ball goes off. Narrow area means going forward is encouraged. Adapt accordingly.
1v1 duel in soccer
Practice structure adapted to work on a 1v1 duel side by side or from behind. Red passes the ball in front of the blue attacker. The red defender pursues the pass and could be incentivised with double scores if they can win the ball and transition to attack and score. You can delay the defenders run to make it easier for attackers/harder for defenders or the coach can act as the server.
using your body in soccer
Example of the red defender pursuing the blue attacker. Coaching points to consider here are does the defender chase the ball/opponent (tackle), or do they put themselves between the ball and the goal (delay/deny).
1v1 attacking & defending
Practice adapted to create a 1v1 from the side. Ball is passed in square from red to blue creating a turnover moment. Blue must attack quickly while red player attempts to win possession and counter-attack. Coaches should be encouraged to experiment with various angles and distances to create different types of 1v1 scenarios that could unfold in the game,.


This practice is designed to provide players with opportunities to practice a variety of 1v1 scenarios from the front, side and behind. The structure of four goals/gates on two narrow pitches side by side allows a higher level of repetition.


Set up a rectangular area with a line splitting the pitch vertically. Using cones or goals, set up four goals. If you have cones, players must dribble through. If you have goals, you can adapt to scoring from anywhere, or creating scoring zones. One player serves the ball in and becomes the defender. The opponent attacks and tries to score. If the defender wins it they can attack. You can create time limits for players to score or the game to end, or play until the ball goes off or a goal is scored. The coach can decide if players rotate stations for variety of opponent and different angles, or stay on their pitch. Avoid players standing in queues. If possible, ensure no more than a 1:3 work to rest ratio, meaning players work once and rest three sets (while others have their turn). Rest is important in any 1v1 session as it can be very physically demanding.

Observations & Interventions

What you might see

  • Players getting up to the ball slowly
  • Players giving up when they lose the ball

Actions you might take

  • Add a line in that players must run over after they serve the ball in
  • Reward players with double goals if they counter press and score

Adaptations: Is the session too easy?

  • Make the space bigger (for more physical returns)
  • Make the space smaller (for more technical returns)
  • Match players with a partner who is physically/technically similar

Is the session too hard?

  • Adapt the space
  • Match players with a partner who is more appropriately matched
  • Adapt to 2v1s

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