1v1 attacking and defending

This session looks at 1v1 attacking and defending. The philosophy is that the game can be broken down into lots of 1v1 situations all over the pitch, so it’s important that players know how to deal with these events  when they arise, which they do frequently.

We would perform aspects of 1v1 work every two weeks, sometimes with the whole squad, on other occasions with selected individual players – this session offers that flexibility.


Final third
Balls, cones, small goals
Number of Players
Up to 10
Session time
Traditional 1v1 3x4mins,
Penalty box 1v1 3x6mins,
Game 3x4mins

What do I get the players to do?

Traditional 1v1

We use a 25×15-yard area and set up as shown in the diagram. The attacker must find a way past his man before shooting at goal (1a). Each attacker then defends straight away before returning to the back of his group (1b). We use a maximum of 10 outfield players to ensure a short rest period.


• In the Traditional 1v1, attackers attempt to get past the defender and score in the goal


• At the end of the move players rejoin their line of players

1v1s in the final third

Next, attackers take it in turns to run at defenders within a channel, to create a shooting opportunity. They have to stay within their channel until they reach the area, but are then free (2).

Defenders must force attackers wide outside the coned area, and stay close once inside. Once the attacker has finished he moves to join the next channel. The defenders work their channel twice before rotating.


• For 1v1s in the final third, attacks come in channels until the penalty area is reached, where free play follows

What are the key things to look out for?

Attackers work at pace, which is extremely difficult to defend against. We want to see changes of direction, movement and skill, and a good finish.

Good body shape is key for defenders, along with the ability to force an opponent away from goal whilst staying on their feet.

How do I put this into a game situation?

Pair up attackers and defenders so each player can only tackle the other. This will create numerous 1v1s. Attackers have to work harder to create opportunities while defenders have to be tight because they know if they get beaten, an outfield team mate cannot prevent the attacker from scoring.

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