Developing 1 v 1 Attacking

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 35 x30 Yards

Teams: 4 v 4 + 1

Time: 15 Minutes


  • To understand when and where to attack 1v1
  • To be positive in decision making

A lot of emphasis in today’s soccer is put on possession and passing but what if a team is ‘parking the bus’ passing in front of them will not work to create a scoring chance, it what the other team wants. One way is to break down a defense is for individual players to use their flair and their dribbling skills to increase the unpredictability of the attack. How can players or a team do this if they never train this way?

The area is split into three zones, two end zones of 5x30 yards and a larger middle zone of 25x30 yards. The one condition on the game is when a player is 1v1 with a defender they must take them on. The only change to this rule is if they are the last player back. This is to teach your players not to dribble out of the back and lose possession of the ball. Because if this player gets tackled there is nobody left to stop the counter attack, therefore you become vulnerable. When the last player back has possession they should be looking for a pass, when they pass this next player, if facing forwards is 1v1 with a defender must attempt to take them on. The attacker aims to dribble into the end zone for a point. Personally I don’t like to use gates in this practice as it is unrealistic. You do not have gates in a game players must attack through so why do it here. Players are able to use the full width of the field to dribble into.

Developing 1v1 Attacking1

If players are 1v2 they must identify this and pass to a teammate. The neutral is added to enable the team in possession to have a free player to stop man marking occurring.

Developing 1v1 Attacking2

A lot of times in practices the neutral just allows better possession for a team and is left out of the actual aim. So in this practice I also encourage my neutral player to attack 1v1 if the scenario presents itself, rather than passing. As the whole aim of the session is to develop the area of the field when you would attack and identify when you are in a 1v1 scenario.

Developing 1v1 Attacking3

Coaching Points

  • Identify 1v1 scenario
  • Use change of direction and speed to beat opponent
  • Do not dribble past opposition players if you are the last player or in a 2v1 scenario


  • Add goals, with/without GKs to score into after dribbling into the end zone
  • Encourage 1v2 scenarios for your better players

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

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