1v1 Defending the Dribble

Chris Johnson 237,773 Views Rating 3.81 (108 Reviews)

This 1v1 soccer defending drill will isolate the defender to focus on the first defender and defending the dribble. Modify this drill to focus on the first attacker taking on the defender.

Soccer Drill Diagram: 1v1 Defending the Dribble

1v1 Soccer Defending

1v1 soccer defending drill to isolate the defender to focus on the first defender and defending the dribble.
Drill Setup

  1. Create a 10X10 grid with a cone placed 10 yards from the grid from each side.
  2. Split the team evenly into two groups with pinnies (red/yellow).
  3. Line up each team on the cones opposite one another, facing the middle square.
  4. Place one defender inside the middle grid. In our soccer drill diagram, the red player starts as the defender, and the yellow team is the attacking team.
Drill Instructions

  1. The attacking team dribbles at the defender and attempts to dribble through the other side of the grid by beating the middle defender.
  2. If the player successfully makes it through the grid and out the other side by dribbling, he then plays to the first player in the line he is facing.
  3. This next player again takes on the defender in the middle.
  4. If the defender wins the ball, or the ball is knocked out of the grid, the player losing the ball becomes the defender.
  5. The player who won the ball or forced the player out of bounds passes the ball to a teammate in line who now attacks the new defender in the middle in an attempt to get through to the other side and pass to the next player in line.
  6. This drill's pace must be very fast and encourage players to take advantage of an off-balanced defender.
  7. The defender will have to transition quickly to get out of the middle.
Drill Variations

  • N/A
Drill Coaching Points

When defending 1v1's in soccer, it is essential to focus on the following key elements:

  1. Staggered stance with toes at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Bent knees with weight on the balls of the feet.
  3. Chest leaning over the toes.
  4. Low center of gravity for greater explosion/quick change of direction (upright takes longer to start).
  5. Ability to shuffle quickly.
  6. Pay attention to the distance of pressure (depends on the speed of attacker vs. the speed of the defender), usually 1-3 yards

Remember that the player closest to the attacker should be the player pressuring the ball. Players should sprint to close down space as quickly as they can, then when they get 5 yards from the attacker, they should slow down and take steps backward to match the attacker's pace. During this time, the defender should slowly close down the space between the attacker and defender. Often proper pressure will cause the attacker to lose the ball.

One way to have players recall the proper way to defend is by "Quick, Slow, Sideways, Low."

Quick refers to the defender's speed while closing down the attacker with the ball. This should be done at full speed sprint, and note that it is often best to close down the ball when the ball is in flight.

Slow refers to the defenders' ability to change speed and direction required to start moving in the same direction as the attacker.

Sideways refers to the body positioning often used when defending. The defender should turn their body at a 45-degree angle to create the largest amount of defensive area.

Low refers to the body positioning with the knees bent and the center of gravity low to the ground.

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