Understanding the Practice

This practice is designed to provide opportunities for players to work on 1v1 skills with pressure from behind. The aim is for the attacker to try and beat the defender by receiving to face forward, or twisting and turning to find space. The practice can be adapted to a 2v1 session to allow more variety. Defenders focus on winning and securing the ball. This practice is very physically demanding, so be mindful of the size of the area and variables such as heat. Groups of 3 are demonstrated in the video below, but you can work in groups of 4 and allow an extra 20-30 seconds rest between sets for players.

About the Video

In the video below, UEFA A licensed coach, Dave Wright demonstrates the practice with a group of U15 players. Look out for examples of Dave challenging the players to find solutions, as well as position specific duels between individuals in the group.

Additional Information

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

  • 1v1 attack
  • 1v1 defense
  • Transition (defender winning the ball and securing it)
  • Counter press (attacker trying to regain the ball if they lose it)
  • 2v1
  • Forward passing
  • Receiving skills
  • Retention skills
  • Dribbling/running with the ball

It’s worth considering the groups that you set up as this practice can be valuable for position specific work (for example wingers vs. fullbacks) or you can match players up physically to ensure an appropriate challenge. Of course, it’s important you don’t do this every time so players get variety in who they oppose.

Key elements to observe and encourage are:

  • Double movements/movement to receive from the attacker
  • Can the attacker get in a position to face forward?
  • Confidence to attack
  • Persistence and resilience from the defender
  • Composure when winning the ball and securing a pass back to the server
  • Creativity and excitement: Encourage the players to take risks and be brave

Practice Overview

Topic: 1v1

No. of Players: 3-20+

Goalkeepers: Optional

Practice Type: Technical Practice

Offsides: Optional

Pitch Size: 30 x 30

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


Session organised in groups of 3 players with gates to dribble through. Each player rotates after their turn – server becomes attacker, attacker becomes defender, defender becomes server. Alternatively you could work in sets of 3 before changing roles. The white line is advisable as a start point so players have space to come short or run in behind.
This example is using mini goals. If you have goals, it’s advisable to add a scoring zone so you don’t have players shooting from distance. If you had one goalkeeper at training, you could set the practice up with one bigger goal for the GK to work in.
Example of players moving to receive and face forward. On the right of screen, the attacking (red) player makes a double movement to run in behind. Encourage unpredictability from players so they don’t always go short to receive the ball. This example also shows organisation in groups of 4. One player rests, plus server, attacker, defender. Players rotate after their turn.
Example of various outcomes. On the left, a player wins the 1v1 and breaks in behind to score. Centrally, the progression of allowing the attacker to pass back to the server (2v1)( and find a new space is shown. On the right, the player receives and beats their opponent.
Example of practice set up if you wanted to work on 2v2s using the same framework.


The focus of this practice is to work on 1v1s with defensive pressure from behind. Attackers are encouraged to work on movement to receive while defenders aim to stop the attacker and secure possession.


Set up an area that is appropriate for the age of your players. A larger space will be easier to find space, but possibly more physically demanding. A tight space will be more difficult technically but more manageable physically. Set up multiple gates/goals behind the player and a starting line for the attacker/defender to start behind. If you have goals, a scoring zone is advisable. When the ball is passed in, the attacker must go 1v1. You can progress to allow 2v1s or adapt the practice so the players are side by side as opposed to in front/behind. The coach can choose whether players can only attack the gate/goal immediately behind them, or whether they can attack any of the goals (harder for defenders).

Observations & Interventions

What you might see

  • Players always coming short or failing to get in a position to face forward
  • Players losing the ball under pressure
  • Players lacking confidence 1v1
  • Defenders forgetting to make a ‘securing’ forward pass back into the server

Actions you might take

  • Encourage/demonstrate double movements
  • Praise and reaffirm bravery and creative play
  • Reward defenders with a point/goal every time they win it and secure the pass. Ensure all players keep their own score of goals or 1v1 defensive duels won to make it competitive

Adaptations: Is the session too easy?

  • Make the space smaller to increase traffic/interference
  • Give attackers a time limit to score

Is the session too hard?

  • Make the space bigger
  • Allow 2v1s
  • Allow attackers to attack any of the goals or gates (less predictable for defenders)
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