"1on1 soccer for youth coaches"



Coaches, why is 1on1 soccer the corner stone of the game?

1on1 is the foundation of the game because if players can win their soccer duel either by defending or attacking the player will be working towards becoming a stronger individual soccer player to play against.

This is not to discount passing the soccer ball because a good pass can obviously beat defenders as well. The ball can move faster than any player on the field.


Watch out if the players can dribble and pass, as this will enable a player to go 1 on 1 which will open up the passing lanes when defending players are pulled out of position to help the player that has been exposed. Soccer in a nut shell!!

This is why it is so important for players to learn, dribbling moves, 1on1 defending, 1on1 attacking, shielding as well as passing. It is not rocket science, but it just takes time to teach the players the moves and put them in situations so the players have lots of chances to play 1on1 soccer against an opponent.

Coach do you already have all the moves down? Check out attacking and defending 1v1 at the bottom of the page.


1on1 Soccer Moves


Coaches, teaching players 1on1 soccer moves is necessary for several reasons; creativity, unbalancing defenders or a defense, shielding to beat players, creating scoring chances. The players working on mastering these little aspects of the game, especially at the younger ages, are on their way to developing as soccer players.

The first aspect of teaching 1on1 soccer moves is building a foundation. The players at the most basic level (6-10 years old) need to learn how to use the laces, sole, outside and inside of the foot. Once they have become better dribblers add moves into their game. This page will not go into the basic dribbling but, if you need a refresher coarse here is a quick review on basic foot work.

Where do we start? These are basic moves that players should be learn - watch any pro and you will see a combination of these moves.

Coaching point: These are just a few of moves that coaches can introduce to players - the kids will decide what moves they like and adopt the moves they practice and feel comfortable with...never fails!

The most effective tool is breaking down the moves and teaching the players how the moves work. The most effective way of doing this is breaking the move into steps example, a coach is teaching the step over he can break the move down into 3-4 parts.

  1. The step over or around the soccer ball so the feet cross
  2. Bring the feet together have the knees bent
  3. The touch with the outside of the foot
  4. Acceleration into space

Coaching point: This is a progression where the players can see each step and go through the steps slowly and learn the 1on1 move. Once they have the basics down the coach can help the players learn the speed of the move.

How long does the coach have to work on these moves to see progress?

Skills training is a constant progression through a soccer players career, but it also depends on level of coaching and motivation of the players. The kids who will practice outside of the soccer practices will get the moves down a lot faster. So, if the coach can get the players to buy in and practice the coach will have the kids pulling off moves in no time. Some kids just do it anyway!

Coaches, you now have the soccer moves to teach your players - lets check out how to add these soccer moves to beat an opponent.





Attacking Soccer


Attacking soccer is more about art and less science - players that play this position are very instinctive and might have a knack for finishing off chances. This does not mean that midfield players and defenders can't get forward and score goals. Everyone must become a good 1on1 soccer player.

Coaching point: A team that has won possession of the soccer ball is attacking, no matter where you are on the soccer field.

How do we take players on? What are the keys to beating a player 1on1 soccer?

Here are 4 key points that players must master.

  • Learning the moves
  • Attacking the opponent - running at an opponent with the soccer ball, attacking the front foot to unbalance the defender.
  • Placing the shoulder ahead of the defender.
  • Taking the killer touch to get behind the defender i.e. acceleration.

We must take into account that the player is not always going to be running at the defender, might be closer to the defender and have to make a move in tighter space.

Now that we have learned about the attacking side of 1on1 soccer check out the defending side of the 1on1 soccer.


Defending soccer



Defending in 1 on1 soccer situations is more of a science so there are some hard and fast rules that go along with defending. When coaching younger players I like to teach them how to tackle i.e. timing of tackles!

  • Block tackles
  • Poke tackle
  • Slide tackle

Once the players have these tackles down we can introduce and opponent to the equation. The difficulty is when the players makes a move how does the defender react. Stance - side on - so defender does not get nutmegged.

Keep feet moving Don't stab or dive in Watch the soccer ball tackle on a bad touch.

  • Opponents bad touch
  • Opponents head is down
  • Ball pops up in the air off the first touch

The basic defending is easier said than done and takes quite a bit of practice. Coaches you have soccer moves, attacking an opponent, defending an opponent. Lets go ahead and check out the next phase of the training which is 1on1 soccer games coaches can use in soccer practice.





1on1 attacking/defending games


Here are 3 attacking games that coaches can introduce to young soccer players.

Game 1

Equipment: Cone, 2 balls
Grid: Open space
Game: 1on1 soccer to a cone - the players have to defend the cone with a soccer ball on top of the cone. If the players knock the soccer ball off the cone they get a point.

Restriction: The defender cannot puppy guard - they must come off the cone and defend the player with the soccer ball.

The players will play a 1 min game.

Game 2

Equipment: Two cones, 3 balls
Grid: Open space
Game: The coach adds two cones with a soccer ball on each cone. Each player has a cone to defend and attack their own cone.

The players will play 1 min games

Game 3

Equipment: 2 cones, 1 soccer ball
Grid: Open space
Game: The coach puts down two cones and makes a gate. The players can play on either side of the gate. The players have to dribble through the gate to get a point - the player can turn and dribble through the gate turn and get back through the gate.

Time: The coach should play 1 minute games.

We now have three games we can take to soccer practices - lets so how we can design a soccer practice to help coaches teach 1on1 soccer.


Designing 1on1 soccer practices


So how do we as coaches set up an effective soccer practice to teach 1on1 soccer.

Training session: Introduction into 1 on1 soccer training defending or attacking

Equipment: Cones, vests and soccer balls

Grid: open space

Warm up: Players practice 2-3 soccer moves (v-move, step over, cuts) working on good form, body lean and using the fake to make defender move. Once the player can unbalance the defender the next touch will be the killer touch to get into the space behind the defender.

Game: 1on1 to cone - coach plays 3-5 1 minute games demonstrations in between games so as to not interrupt players that are competing. Once the players have completed this section we move to a game with shooting and 1on1.

Game: The numbers game is great after the players have played 1on1 soccer to cones. 

Grid: Goal, pennies and cones

Game: Two teams line up on each side of the goal - the coach positions him or herself top of the box with all the soccer balls. The coach calls a number like #1 or #2 - players from each group run out - first player to the ball attacks and second player defends. If the attacker loses the soccer ball the defender can score.

Game: Small sided games with an emphasis on beating players - there is only one rule in this game you must beat a player before you can pass the soccer ball.


Return to Coaching Kids Soccer from 1on1 Soccer



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Coaches, do you want to make soccer fun and motivate your players? Soccer patches are a great motivational tool that can be used for goals, assists, good defending or skills competitions. The kids love patches!!


SBI!