4 Effective 1v1 Soccer Drills to Improve All Skills
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.
Drill #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.
Drill #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.
Drill #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.
Drill #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.
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.