1v1 Soccer Defending Drill

1v1 Soccer Defending Drill

This 1v1 soccer defending drill is great to focus on individual defending techniques and is a fantastic activity to start any defending training session. This drill gives players lots of decision-making opportunities and repetitions on the ball while competing 1 on 1.

1v1 Soccer Defending Drill

Set Up The Drill

Mark off a 12×18 yard grid with small cones. Using tall cones or pugs, set up 2 small goals diagonally across from each other as shown in the drill diagram above. Split players up into two groups and have them line up in teams facing each other to the right-hand side of each goal. If you have more than 6 players we’d recommend setting up multiple grids to increase the number of touches and repetitions each player has. Have a supply of balls ready for each grid.


Play begins with the first player in line from one team passing the ball to the first player in line from the other team. They compete in a 1v1 duel against each other, trying to score on the goal they are facing. The duel is over after a goal is scored, the ball leaves play, or 60 seconds elapses. Repeat the activity with the next players in line. After 5 minutes of play alternate the team playing in the original pass. Whichever team scores the most goals overall wins!


Have players switch lines after every 1v1 duel and keep their own points. Whichever individual scores the most points overall wins.

Coaching Points

Use the rhyme “fast, slow, side-on, low!” to help the players remember how to defend in 1v1 situations. This corresponds to the following:

  • Players should close the ball down as quickly as possible after making the first pass (fast).
  • Players should then slow down as they approach the attacker so as to not get beaten behind immediately (slow).
  • Players should adjust their body position so they are side on to the ball and the attacker (side-on) with their knees bent. (low). They should also angle their approach slightly to try and lead the attacker away from the goal they are defending.