1 v 1 Narrative

Someone has said that the team that wins the most 1 v 1 situations will win the game. That makes some sense (and is a great discussion point) but either way it is a good way of simplifying the game for coaches, especially coaches who are trying to dissect and analyze the game

The Germans have broken the game down, tactically, into scenarios which begin with one player versus another player. That is the most rudimentary tactical scenario in the game of soccer. Consequently many coaches begin their seasons training sessions with a series of 1 v 1 exercises. Below are a variety of training exercises which all accomplish the same thing – teaching attacking and defending at the most basic level of the game.

The teaching points in 1 v 1 provide the basics for the most rudimentary tactical situation in soccer and, consequently, are vital for the teaching of the game. ALL coaches must know them.


  1. Get turned so that you can face the defender. You cannot dribble past the defender if you are facing the wrong way.
  2. Attack the defender by dribbling directly at them.
  3. Change your direction or change your speed or BOTH to beat the defender.
  4. Accelerate past the defender and prepare for the next action.


  1. Position yourself to try and intercept the pass into the attacker.
  2. Prevent the attacker from turning so the attacker must protect the ball by facing away.
  3. If the attacker turns with the ball slow the attacker down and try and angle your body so they can only go one way.
  4. Tackle when the attacker takes a mistouch on the ball. 

Coaching demonstrations are enormously helpful.

The Bull Ring 1 v 1 Drill

1 v 1 Introducing Individual Zonal Positioning Concepts

The following drills comes from Jeff's book, “Drills and Exercises to Develop the Elite American Soccer Player©.”

This book focuses on sessions and exercises which address the issues specific to American players. It is a book for coaches at every level but, especially, coaches of players aged U9 to U14. This is a vitally important age when players are, without even knowing it, making decisions on which sport they will choose to play. Preview

Two feeders are feeding the ball into an attacker who is marked by a player defending a goal behind. The defender is given four tactical options;

  1. Intercept the pass into the forward. If not -­-
  2. Intercept the ball after the forwards first touch if it is poor. If not -­-
  3. Do not allow the opponent to turn. If not -­-
  4. If the opponent turns delay the opponent and try and win the ball. 

One of the keys here is for the defender to stay goal side and ball side. In other words, the defender must, constantly, change position and try and have a pathway to cut out the pass coming into the attacker. The attacking player is encouraged to move around and get behind the defender and then spring forward and see how the defender reacts. The key defensive skill we are practicing here is for the defending player to always be able to see the ball and the attacker at the same time. The defender must gauge whether it is possible to intercept the ball and, if it is not, then must adopt a position behind the attacking player’s receiving foot. Sometimes attacking players spill the ball when they are under pressure and the defender can, sometimes, win the ball after the attacker misplays it.