Stop Any Attacker With These 8 1v1 Soccer Defending Drills

Defending and stopping other teams from creating chances is just as important as attacking and scoring goals. The first and most important step to building a successful defensive team is to teach your players how to defend in 1v1 situations. By teaching players to defend 1v1 you are able to show the attackers away from the dangerous areas and prevent attacking overloads by stopping opponents dribbling past you. These 1v1 defending soccer drills will help your players to defend against any attackers in any situation!

If you would like these drills as a downloadable PDF then head to the bottom of the page

How do you improve 1v1 defending?

To be a great defender you do not always have to win the ball, you can be a great defender but controlling where the attacker goes and forcing them back towards their own half.

This can be achieved through a good body position and knowing how and when to pressure the attacker. It is important that you also get lots of repetition practicing defending 1v1s in a variety of different scenarios so you can easily adapt in-game situations, read my most valued tips on defending 1v1 before moving onto the 1v1 defending soccer drills.

If you want to speed up the development of your players the best way for you to do this is to improve your knowledge as a coach. Here are some soccer coaching books I would recommend.

Here are my 8 key soccer tips to improve defending 1v1:

  1. Close the space down between yourself and the attacker till you are about a yard away. By pressuring the attacker quickly you restrict the amount of space they have, giving you more control in the situation.
  2. You should have a side on body position with your chest facing the direction you want to show the attacker. By having a side on body position you can easily adjust to changes of direction the attacker may try.
  3. Position yourself side on and slightly to the side of the attacker instead directly in front of them. This will help control where the attacker goes, for example if I want to show the attacker to my right I would position myself to the more to left and vice versa.
  4. Jockey the attacker in your side on position with your knees bent when the attacker is dribbling towards you maintaining that yard space. This helps you move easily and change your body shape to adjust to the attacker, this will also stop your feet from getting muddled when watching the attacker.
  5. Be patient when waiting to try and steal the ball. While jockeying the attacker you want to wait for the perfect moment to steal the ball, a good moment to steal the ball would be when the attacker has a bad touch. If you are not patient and dive in the attacker can easily dribble past you.
  6. Keep your eye on the ball. The attacker will try lots of skills and body feints to try and put you off and make you dive in, by focusing on the ball you will be able to time you challenges a lot easier and commit less fouls.
  7. When you step in to win the ball make sure you fully commit. If the attacker sees that you are hesitant he will have control in the situation, even if you commit to the challenge and miss the ball the worst that could happen is you give away a foul.
  8. Pay close attention to the attacker you are up against and figure out their strengths and weaknesses in the first 10 minutes. By figuring out their strengths a weaknesses such as their weaker foot, skills they like to use and their speed you can position yourself to highlight their weaknesses and negate their strengths.

1v1 defending soccer drills

Make sure you have all the soccer coaching equipment you need for the drills before starting.

1. basic 1v1 defending Drill

Set up:

  • 7 x 10 yard area
  • 1 soccer ball per pair
  • 3 goals
  • 2 teams of 3 (1 defending team, 1 attacking team)

Instructions:

Set up your area with 2 goals on one side and 1 goal on the opposite side. The attacking team will start behind the side with the 2 goals attacking the 1 goal where the defenders will be.

The defending team will start with the ball and begin the drill by passing the ball to the attacker and immediately pressuring them when the attacker has taken their first touch.

If the attacker scores in the goal they will get 3 points, similarly the defender will get 3 points if they steal the ball and score in either of the 2 goals. If the attacker is forced out of play or if the defender gets the ball out of bounds the defender will get 1 point.

At the end of the phase of play (when a goal is scored or if the ball goes out of play) the next phase of play will begin with the next defender passing the ball to the next attacker. make sure both teams get an equal opportunity to be the attacking and defending team.

The team with the most points will be the winner.

Coaching points:

  • Pressure the attacker quickly to close down their space
  • Side body position showing them away from goal/ onto their weak foot
  • Be patient wait for the attacker to make a mistake so you can win the ball

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What can you do to give the attacker less space?
  • What should my body position be like and where should I show the attacker?
  • When should I step in to win the ball?

2. 1v1 defending drill with the pitch divided in half

Set up:

  • 10 x 15 yard area divided in half ( running inline with the 15 yard lines)
  • 1 soccer ball per pair
  • 2 teams of 3 (1 attacking and 1 defending team)

Instructions:

This is a good 1v1 defending drill that helps players focus on their positioning and forces attackers into certain areas. After you have set up your area and divided your players into two teams, place the defenders in one corner with a soccer ball and set up the attackers diagonally across the opposite corners.

The defenders will start with the ball and pass the ball to the attacker and they can immediately pressure the ball. The attacker must dribble the ball past the line in the half that the defenders started on.

If they do this they will get 3 points but if they manage to dribble past the other half they will get 1 point. If the defender wins the ball and dribbles past any part of the line the attacker started they will get 3 points and if they are able to force the attacker out of bounds if they get a touch on the ball to take it out of bounds they will get 1 point.

Swap the teams around so they get an equal chance to attack and defender with the team collecting the most points becoming the winner.

Coaching points:

  • Side on body position forcing the defending to stay in the channel where they will get less points
  • Don’t dive in, be patient and wait for an opportunity to win the ball or force the defender back
  • Close down the defenders space quickly

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What body position do you want to help control where the attacker goes?
  • When should you step to win the ball or force the player back?
  • How can you restrict the amount of space attacker has?

3. 1v1 defending against the attacker with their back to goal

Set up:

  • 5 x 10 yard area with a halfway line
  • 1 goal
  • 2 soccer balls per group
  • 6 players per group ( 3 attackers, 3 defenders)

Instructions:

Set up your area with a goal at one and divide your group of players into 2 teams, a defending team and an attacking team. The defending team will start from behind the goal and the attacking team starts with the ball on the opposite side.

the attacking team will have a player start on the halfway line and the phase of play will begin when the ball is played to the attacker. as soon as the pass is played to the attacker on the way line the defender can immediately pressure.

If the attacker scores in the goal they will get 3 points, however, the defender wins the ball and dribbles past the line the attacker started on they will get 3 points and if they force the defender or ball out of bounds then they will get 1 point.

swap the teams around so they have equal chances to defend and attack. The team with the most points is the winner.

Coaching points:

  • Pressure the attacker quickly
  • Keep the attacker arms length away in a side on position staying goal side (in between the player and your goal)
  • Force the attacker back and try not to let them turn

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What should you be doing as soon as the pass is played?
  • What position should you be in when defending the attacker? Why?
  • Where should you show the attacker?

4. 1v1 defending against the long ball

Set up:

  • 10 x 15 yard area
  • 1 soccer ball per group
  • 3 players per group (1 defender, 1 attacker, 1 feeder)

Instructions:

Set up your area and designate one player to the defender, attacker, and feeder. The attacker and defender will be in the middle of the area with the feeder standing on the baseline of the area. The feeder will take a throw-in, throwing the ball towards the attacker and defender for them to compete for the ball.

The goal for both players is to win the ball and pass it back to the feeder player. If the attacker manages to pass the ball back they will get one point, if the attacker wins the ball passes the ball back they will get 3 points. If the ball goes out of bounds then the defender will get the point.

Swap the players round they have an equal turn in each role and the player with the most points will be the winner.

Coaching points:

  • Mark the defender in a goal side, side on position.
  • Keep your eye on the ball and anticipate the flight of the ball to try and time the interception
  • Put pressure on the defender, you may not win the ball but you may force him to take a poor touch.

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How should you mark the defender?
  • What should you trying to anticipate to win the ball?
  • Why do should you put pressure on the defender even if you think you cannot win the ball?

5. 1v1 defending ladder Drill

Set up:

  • 5 x 7 yard area
  • 1 area per pair
  • 1 soccer ball per pair
  • one goal per area

Instructions:

Divide your players into pairs and set up an area for each pair that you have and place one goal on the 5-yard line in each area. The defenders will start next to the goal and pass the ball to the attacker as soon as the defender has taken a touch the defender can pressure.

The attacker has to try and score a goal if they do they get 3 points, however, if the defender steals the ball and dribbles past the line the attacker started on then they get 3 points. If the defender forces the attacker or the ball outside of the area they will get one point.

The players will alternate being the defender and attacker each round and the winner will be the player that has the most points. With the winners moving up to the next area and the losing player moving down an area.

Coaching points:

  • Pressure the player quickly in a side on stance limiting their space
  • Show the attacker onto their weaker foot
  • Wait for the attacker to make a mistake so you can then step in and win the ball

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What should you do to limit the amount of space the attacker has?
  • Which side should you show the defender?
  • When should you step in to win the ball?

6. 1v1 attack to defense transition

Set up:

  • 2, 5 x 10 yard areas
  • 1 soccer ball per player
  • 2 teams of 4
  • 2 goals

Instructions:

Set up your areas parallel to each other with goals on one side and both teams starting the opposite side. Each player will have a soccer ball, it will begin with the player on one team dribbling to score in the goal directly opposite them as soon as they score they will become a defender to stop the player from the opposite team from scoring a goal.

The phase will end when a goal is scored or when the ball goes out of bounds.

After a player has defended they will collect a ball and head back to their team to go again.

This will continue until the time limit has been reached with the team scoring the most goals winning.

Coaching points:

  • React quickly after you have transitioned from an attacker to defender
  • Close the space down on the attacker
  • Be patient when trying to block the shot or steal the ball

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What should we thinking/ doing as soon as you score a goal or the ball goes out of bounds?
  • How can we make it harder for the attacker to score a goal?
  • What happens if we rush to win the ball? what must we do instead?

7. 1v1 recovery run transition soccer defending drill

Set up:

  • 10 x 15 yard area
  • 1 soccer ball per player
  • 2 goals
  • 2 teams of 4

Instructions:

This is a similar drill to the previous transition drill however instead of focusing on getting across and closing the space of the attacker the focus is to track back and make a recovery run to stop the attacker from scoring.

Set the goals up opposite each other with each team behind the goals, the teams are trying to score in the goals opposite them. Once a player has attacked a goal and scored a goal or the ball has gone out of bounds they will become the defender for the attacker on the other team.

After a player has defended they will collect a ball and head back to their team to go again.

This will continue until the time limit has been reached with the team scoring the most goals winning.

Coaching points:

  • React quickly to the change from attacker to defender
  • Recover and apply pressure to the attacker
  • Make sure you are always on the inside of the attacker when tracking back to ensure you show them to the outside, away from the goal

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • As soon as you have taken your shot, what should you be thinking/ doing?
  • What position should I be in when tracking back and why?

8. 1v1 defending in wide areas soccer drill

Set up:

  • 7 x 15 yard Channel
  • 2 teams of 3
  • 3 soccer balls
  • 5 x 5 yard square
  • 1 large goal
  • 2 pug goals

Instructions:

This setup is going to mimic wide players attempting to cross the ball into the box against a full back in a wide area of the pitch, this will represent your 7 x 15-yard channel. The large goal is there as a reference to help players understand the concept, in front of the large goal create a 5 x 5-yard area with 2 pugs in the far corners of the square in relation to where the channel is.

The drill will start with the defenders, who will start on the inside corner passing to the attacker who will diagonally opposite the defender on the outside corner facing the goal.

The aim for the attacker is to cross the ball and score in the pug goals if they do this they will get 3 points if they cross the ball and it goes through the square they’ll get one point.

The aim for the defender is to block the cross or steal the ball, if the defender is able to block the cross or the defender is forced out of bounds then the defender will get 1 point. If the defender is able to steal the ball and dribble past the line the attacker started on they will get 3 points.

swap the defending and attacking teams round so they both have equal turns defending and attacking.

Coaching points:

  • Keep your side on body position showing the attacker towards the outside
  • Be patient against the attacker wait for them to make a mistake
  • If you are able to get the attacker facing their own goal keep them facing that way and force them towards their own goal

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What position should you be in?
  • Where should you be showing the attacker?
  • When should you try and win the ball?
  • If the attacker turns and facing their own goal where should you force them?

1v1 soccer defending drills conclusion

Being able to successfully defend in a 1v1 scenario is an important skill set that every player should have. It is key that players are able to apply the same defending technique to a variety of different situations because everyone’s 1v1 scenario will look different.

This 1v1 soccer defending drills will provide your players with a variety of different game realistic situations and scenarios that will most likely occur in a game of real soccer, as a coach you need to make sure you are consistent with your coaching points and allow your players to get lots of repetition of defending 1v1.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and if you found value in these 1v1 soccer defending drills or if you have other 1v1 defending soccer drills that other coaches would find useful please leave a comment below.

If you know someone who would find these 1v1 soccer defending drills useful please share using our social media buttons below.

If you like the animated drills check out the soccer coaching software I use.

Thank you,

Toby

Related Posts:

My recommended Soccer Coaching eBook on defending

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1v1 soccer defending drills PDF

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