6 Effective 1v1 Soccer Drills (2024 Update)

Whether part of a training session or simply an impromptu kickabout with a friend, 1v1 soccer drills are a great way to hone your skills and improve both your attacking and defending.

Very easy to set up, these exercises can focus on a number of different areas, with some working on your touch, turn, and technique and others on your dribbling and decision-making.

With just a few cones, a ball, and a friend, you can improve and take your skills to the next level in no time at all, providing of course that you’re willing to put the work in.

Whether you’re a coach looking for fun and effective drills or a player who’s aiming to practice and improve in their spare time, here are four great 1v1 soccer drills for you to work through.

1. Touch and Technique

Before moving on to more challenging and strenuous drills, it’s a good idea to do a small warm-up, even if you're just practising with a friend.

This small series of exercises tests both of your touches and gets you working on your ball control, passing, heading, and volleying.


Warm-up, touch, and technique


Place two cones five to ten metres apart, depending on what works best for you

How to Run the Drill:

1. Both players line up at their cone, one with the ball at their feet.

2. The player with the ball fizzes it along the ground to their teammate who controls it before passing it back at pace.

3. Both players can pass it to either of their teammate's feet to test their ball control and passing ability with each foot.

4. After having done this exercise for a while, one player picks up the ball and throws it to either of the other player's feet.

5. They then volley it back into their teammate's arms before they swap over after ten throws.

6. After having practised their passing and volleying, they move on to heading the ball with each of them throwing it up in the air for the other to head.

7. To make it more competitive, players can challenge each other's touch and technique by keeping score of how accurate and well they each do.

2. Touch and Turn

Turning in a tight space and evading an oncoming opponent is an important skill out on the pitch.

This 1v1 soccer drill sees one player control the ball while under pressure from their teammate before feinting and successfully taking the ball out of their reach and out of the box.


Touch, turn, and taking the ball away from your opponent


Make a six by twelve rectangle with cones at each corner

How to Run the Drill: 

1. One player starts inside the rectangle, towards the back of the long side.

2. The other player starts outside of the box, on the opposite side from them with the ball.

3. They start the drill by passing the ball at pace to the player in the rectangle and then pressure them by quickly running towards them.

4. The player receiving the ball needs to control the ball, throw a feint and evade their onrushing opponent.

5. The aim is for them to unbalance the defender and successfully make it out of either of the short sides of the box with the ball.

6. The players can swap roles each time.

Soccer player jogging and jumping between yellow cone markers during soccer practice

3. Close Control and Defending

If it’s trickery and dribbling skills that you’re looking to improve, then you can't beat a good ol' fashioned one-on-one.

With this drill, one player attempts to dribble their way past their opponent while the defending player does everything in their power to prevent them from passing.


Dribbling, close ball control, and defending


Set up a 20 x 10 rectangle of cones

How to Run the Drill:

1. Both players start at opposite ends of the box.

2. The player with the ball advances towards the defender and attempts to dribble their way past them and reach their line with the ball still at their feet.

3. The defending player should jockey and put pressure on them and ultimately put in a tackle or nip the ball off of them when they think the time is right.

4. By swapping roles, both players get to work on their attacking and defending skills.

5. To vary the drill up further, you can set up one small goal on one side of the defender's line. The attacking player can then either opt to dribble it around the defender to the line for one point or pass the ball into the small goal for three points. This form of the exercise teaches the defender to cover two positions simultaneously.

4. Burst of Speed

While being able to dribble well is certainly a valuable skill to have, just as important is knowing when to simply outpace your opponent and release the ball at the opportune moment.

This drill allows players to both work on their dribbling and defending, as well as decision-making and burst of speed at the same time.

In addition to this, they also learn how to turn defence into attack by going on the offensive once they win the ball back.


Dribbling, burst of speed, and decision-making


Set up a twenty by twenty square.

Along two of the sides opposite each other, place three cones with balls on them in a line, five metres apart and five metres inside the sideline.

How to Run the Drill:

1. The two players should line up at the midway point between the two sidelines with a metre or two in between them.

2. The player who starts with the ball should, on an agreed-upon signal, attempt to dribble or sprint past their opponent who tries to tackle or block them off.

3. When they’ve won themselves space and time and see an opportunity, they can then pass the ball and knock one of the balls off of its cone. This counts as a point.

4. If the defender wins the ball back, however, or blocks their strike, they can then attack their opponent's line of cones with the ball at their feet.

5. In this way, both players can defend, attack, and decide when to burst into space and when to try and win a point by knocking the ball off of the cone.

6. Players alternate between who starts, so both get to work on the various skills involved in the drill.

7. To make it more competitive, you can always award players three points for beating their opponent by dribbling or doing a trick and just one for outpacing them.

Soccer player in red jersey running between cones with a soccer ball at his feet

5. 1v1 Defense vs Attack

1v1 defending is a battle of timing, technique, and aggression. 

In this drill, opposing players scramble to get into position, and then take each other on in a 1v1 in front of goal. 


Sprinting into position, dribbling, tackling, and finishing.


Use the penalty box and the surrounding area for this drill. 

Place two cones on the edge of the penalty box where the circle meets the straight line. 

Place two more around 10 yards outside the box in slightly wider positions (starting points for attackers and defenders). 

Put the ball outside the box between all of the cones.

Set up a full-size goal. If you have a goalkeeper, use them. 

Players divide into two lines: one is the attacking line and one is the defending line. 


How to Run the Drill: 

  1. Two players compete at a time: one attacker and one defender. 

  2. The first two players stand at their cones, awaiting the coach’s whistle.

  3. On the coach’s signal, both players sprint to the cones on the edge of the box, and then around them toward the ball. 

  4. If the defender gets there first, they cannot touch the ball. They must get into position and wait for the attacker. 

  5. The attacker takes possession of the ball and the 1v1 is live. 

  6. The attacker tries to dribble past the defender and then score on the goalkeeper. 

  7. When the round is over, the players join opposite lines and the next two players take their turn. 

6. 1v1 - Pass, Move, & 1v1

In real games, 1v1s usually happen on a counterattack or a switch of play. 

So, it’s beneficial to run drills that involve a pass or movement before the 1v1. 

This drill does just that. 


Long passing, quick lateral movement, dribbling, and tackling. 


Place two cones around 20 yards apart. 

Ten yards from these cones, set up a channel or gate that’s 10 yards wide and 20 yards long. 

Divide the team into pairs. Two players take part at a time. 

They start on opposite cones, 20 yards apart. One player has the ball at their feet. 


How to Run the Drill: 

  1. The player with the ball starts the drill by playing a long pass to their teammate. 

  2. After playing the pass, they sprint to the channel. They cannot pass the halfway point of the channel. 

  3. The receiver dribbles the ball to the channel. 

  4. When the two players are at the channel, the dribbler tries to get past their opponent. 

  5. The defender tries to stop them. 

  6. After the round, the players switch roles. 

  7. If you have a lot of players, set up multiple grids for smaller groups of players. 


As all of these 1v1 soccer drills can be run with just two players, a ball or two, and some cones, they can easily be set up by keen players who are looking to hone and improve on their skills outside of training.

As they focus on a wide range of different skills and techniques, the exercises should help with both defending and attacking as well as close ball control, decision-making, and dribbling.

Coaches too can incorporate these fun and effective drills into their training sessions to make practices even more competitive and challenging.

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