"How to teach the first
attacker to beat a

I like this quick video on how the first attacker takes on a defender...this is a great explanation on the basic moves for an attacking player.

The kids need to know the following...

  • The attacker is the player who has the ball, dribbling at the defender, looking to make a move and beat the player in front of the defender.
  • The defender is the one closest to the ball so they start defending right there.
  • A good attacker makes a defender better and a good defender helps shape a good attacker.

The question I ask my players all the time is where does attacking start? wherever the ball is...

  • This helps the players understand it does not matter what position we are playing if we win the ball we are the first attacker.
  • When the right defender wins the ball and is going forward the team is attacking.
  • Everyone on the team has to be good with the ball.

Plus we don't know what position young players will end up playing later on their teams if they keep playing and enjoying the game.

Good vs bad defenders

How do you know the difference?

  • Bad - When a defender is flat footed and standing in front of you with feet apart that is ideal for an attacker...just go right around the defender and they will never recover.
  • Good - If a defender is side on, moving their feet and the knees slightly bent this is a little tougher proposition. A good defender will also try and push an attacker to on side to make play predictable. This is a good defender!

A good dribbler can fly past bad defending...

How to attack a good defender

The first attacker should have the following elements to his or her play when going at a defender.

  • Attacking the defender with speed.
  • Attacking the front foot of the defender or getting the defender off balance with the move.
  • Making a move and accelerating by the defender.

Coaching tips:

  • Don't slow down once the player is beaten.
  • Work on accelerating and changing speeds to get passed a defender.
  • Try not to cut back as this allows the defender back in and they end having to beat the player a second time.

The coach can easily correct this by emphasizing that the players accelerate after each move.

1 on 1 dribbling practice

No pressure - Players just working in free space...

  • Scissors.
  • Step-Over.
  • Body Swerve.
  • Cuts.

The most important thing is getting the moves down with a good fake and accelerating past the defender as discussed earlier.

Light pressure - working on the move with a partner.

  • Partners stand 10 - 15 yards apart depending on the age group.
  • The partners dribble towards each other making a move when they are just a few yards apart.
  • Make sure to accelerate past the player once the move is done.


Pressure - Trying to beat a live defender.

  • Partners stand 10 - 15 yards apart with one ball.
  • This time partner "A" plays the ball into partner "B" and they play 1 on 1 soccer.
  • Partner "B" tries to use a move and get behind partner "A" which is what attacking play is all about.

Go live and play a competition!

Once the players have finished the competition we play small sided games and bonus points are handed out if they pull off a really good move in the 3v3 or 4v4 game.

Return to Coaching Kids Soccer from First Attacker

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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!!