Soccer: 1-on-1 drills to break down defenders
Using 1-on-1 drills in your soccer practices helps build the skills and confidence your players need to break down an individual defender, which is a situation they constantly are facing during game play.
And while soccer is a team sport, it is a team sport that can be broken down into many, smaller 1-on-1 situations all over the field. When your players win individual 1-on-1s, they have a better chance to attack the opposition and a higher degree of success.The following five drills take the technical skills necessary to be successful in 1-on-1 instances and combines them with tactical ideas to incorporate into game-like situations. In addition, these drills also help your players develop the mentality needed to be successful in 1-on-1 encounters. Your players are going to attempt to get by a defender and fail many times but if they remain focused and stay confident while utilizing proper technical skills and tactics, they are sure to find success soon enough.
Use these simple 1-on-1 drills to start your practice as they prepare the players’ bodies for the movements needed for proper execution throughout practice.
DIAGRAM 1: Simple 1-Vs-1 Drills Set-Up. Have one player with the ball (O) and a defender spaced three yards apart. The four simple drills run 40 yards down the field.
• The first drill has O passing to X with X trapping the ball while on the move.
• The second drill has O dribbling at X while changing pace from fast to slow and vice versa. O dictates the distance between the players by switching speeds.
• The third drill involves O dribbling at X and slightly changing directions from left to right and from right to left. O dictates the direction the drill moves.
• The fourth drill has O dribbling at X and at some point during the 40-yard stretch, O tries to push the ball past X to run by and gain separation.
The Cone Touch Drill works on lateral changes of direction and changing the pace to move the defender in a specific direction so the offensive player can break free.
DIAGRAM 2: Cone Touch Drill. Place two cones five yards apart. Player O has the ball while X is defending. X is not allowed to touch the ball as O works laterally with the ball while changing direction and pace. O receives points by touching the ball to the cone. X tries to set his or her foot to the cone before the ball reaches it. Run this drill for 30 to 45 seconds, then switch offensive and defensive players. The player with the most points after each has had an opportunity to score is the winner.
Circle of scoring
The Circle Of Scoring Drill works on changing pace and changing direction while allowing the defender the ability to go after the ball.
DIAGRAM 3: Circle Of Scoring Drill. One cone is place inside a circle that is 10 to 12 yards at its widest point. O is trying to touch the ball to the cone to score a point. X defends the cone and if X steals the ball, X goes on the attack and O is forced to defend the cone. Run this drill for a predetermined amount of time and the winner is the player who emerges from the circle with the most points.
The 3-On-3 Game incorporates a reliance on teammates but still drills players in the fundamentals of beating an individual defender while in a game-like situation.
DIAGRAM 4: 3-On-3 Game. Set up a field that is 25 yards long and 15 yards wide. O passes the ball around to create a 1-on-1 situation. The only way to score a point is to dribble the ball into the opponent’s “zone.” X defends until stealing the ball, then X attacks and O defends. Play this game for three minutes. Keep score again to make this a competitive drill and to force players to want to win.
The 8-On-8 Game involves a more realistic, game-like situation while still encouraging players to beat their individual defender.
DIAGRAM 5: 8-On-8 Game. Run this game on your practice or game field but keep the length of the field at 80 yards. Teams have seven players and a goalkeeper each.
The O players are on offense to begin. They pass and move up the field as they normally would until reaching the midway point (signified by the dotted line in the diagram). Once crossing this point, the offensive player must go 1-on-1 against a defender in the direction of the goal.
Run this drill for five minutes. Defenders move to offense on a steal or errant shot.
As a variation of this drill, remove all restrictions. In this instance, players determine the best opportunity to go 1-on-1 to beat a defender and attempt to score. Ask the players afterward about why they decided to use a 1-on-1 move.