1v1 Strength Battle

  • Author: Ian Knapp
  • Age Group: U7 to U17+
  • Time: 15 Minutes

This practice is great fun, involves plenty of shooting, has a competitive edge and gets your players using their strength and skill to try and beat their opponent. With defending and goalkeeping also thrown in, there is plenty of benefit to an exercise like this.

  • Set up 2 quite large coned off rectangles next to each other (size to depend on age, size and ability of players)
  • A goal at one end of each rectangle (both goals at the same end) with a goalkeeper in each goal.
  • Split the players into 2 teams with coloured bibs.
  • Split the players into pairs, with one of each colour in each pair. Those are the initial 1v1 pairings, so you play against your partner from the other team.
  • Pairs queue up next to the goals (2 pairs by each goal).
  • 2 coaches, one to the side of each "pitch", with several footballs each.

Basic Rules:

  • Coach shouts "go" and passes a ball into the rectangle.
  • The first pair sprint to the ball. The first one there is the attacker, the other one the defender.
  • Attacker tries to score. If the defender wins the ball, they become the attacker and they try to score.
  • A goal is worth 1 point for your team. Can also give points for shots on target if you want.
  • Give the players 10 - 15 seconds to try and score, otherwise it's a draw (avoids the next pair waiting too long).
  • Players return to the side of the goal and the next pair takes their turn.
  • Switch pairs regularly so players get the chance to play against taller / quicker players and see how they can adapt to those scenarios. If you make it 100% "fair" all the time, they won't learn - it won't be fair on match day.

5 Key Coaching Points:
  • Attackers - try to use changes of pace / direction or a shift in body weight or a trick to get your opponent off balance. Be positive!
  • Attackers - keep the ball under control and close to you, before choosing the right time to knock it past your opponent and accelerating away into the space behind.
  • Both players - use your speed and strength to get to the ball first. Use your upper body strength to lean in and get your arms up to shield the ball.
  • Defenders - don't dive in! Wait until the attacker takes a poor touch or gives you an opportunity to win the ball and then go for the tackle.
  • Defenders - use your body shape to show your opponent towards the side of the pitch way from goal.

Coaching Points (FA's 4 Corners):
  • Changes of speed and direction, as well as shifts in body weight to unbalance your opponent
  • Try a trick or skill to get past your opponent.
  • Keep the ball under close control, but when the time is right, knock it past your opponent and then accelerate away into the space behind.
  • Defenders - don't dive in.
  • Defenders - body shape (side on, not "square") to show the attacker where you want them to go and give you the best chance of recovery if they do go past you.
  • Confidence to try things
  • Encourage players to be positive and creative.
  • Adapt to different opponents and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Decision making - when to try a trick, when to keep things simple, when to try and beat your opponent, when to make a tackle etc.
  • Competitiveness - how do different players respond to making the game competitive / scoring etc. Keep an eye out for anyone who's struggling and potentially adapt if they're getting demoralised.
  • Strength to shield the ball or to not let your opponent past
  • Speed to beat your opponent to the ball and to accelerate away from them when in possession.
  • Agility, balance and coordination when manipulating the ball
  • Have fun!
  • Encouragement for others
  • Team mates who are waiting for their turn can give instruction to their team mate on the pitch.