1 On 1 Soccer Moves! Close Those Legs!

1 on 1 soccer

1 on 1 soccer what could be better? Wait you're only taking a player on 1 on 1? That's it? Talk to me when you're ready for 1 on 2 or 3!

Every great attacking player can always improve their 1 on1 dribbling and any great defender on their 1 on1 defending so no matter which position you play and no matter which level we could all use some work on our 1 on 1's.

Wait a second, what about your keeper you ask? Well of course some of the most important moments of any game are 1 on1 versus the keeper so take those gloves out of your ears and pay close attention.

Most people when talking about 1 on 1 soccer all they think about is dribbling and the fancy moves but there is so much more to it than that.

Sometimes beating a player is just about speed or running in behind them without the ball and of course who can forget 1 on 1 defending which can make or break games. Read below all the different 1v1 areas of the game you need to work on for yourself and let's see how much you really actually know.

If your'e looking for video examples of everything to do with 1 on 1 soccer attacking and defending then look no further, oh and you feel like you want to get some reps in to improve that touch 1 on1 with a wall then this must be your lucky day.

Remember that your game doesn't improve unless you put the work in so read this page over, get some tips and watch some videos then it's your turn to get to the field and put that work in, good luck young Messi.

1 On 1 Soccer Moves You Can Use In A Game

Top 6 Things To Remember About 1 On 1 Soccer Dribbling

1. Speed First

  • Remember that pure and simple speed is the best move any player can ever do, just ask Mbappe. You don't need all the fancy tricks and rolls if you have pace and there is an opportunity to take the defender of just push it pass them and let your fast feet do the work.
  • When lining up against a defender 1 on 1 you should always be saying to yourself "is there an opening where I can just beat this player with speed?" If the answer is yes then put away the tricks for now and just blow by them.

2. Use Your Arms & Hands

  • The best dribblers in the world use their hands, forearms and elbows to create space and shield the ball from opponents when they get close to them.
  • As important as having quick and skillful feet is don't be afraid to touch players with your fingers and hands right in the chest and abs so to create that extra little bit of space you may need.

3. Change Of Pace & Direction

  • When doing your move no matter what it is there needs to be a change of pace from your approach to the defender and when you blow by them.
  • We slow down a touch so the defender slows down and the moment they do we need to explode with our move into a position in behind them where they are left trying to play catch up.
  • If your approach with the ball is slow and you do your move slowly and try and get past the defender you'll never get anywhere, lull them sleep with a slow uninterested approach then BOOM! Explode past them with power and speed.

4. Have Them Stop, Not You!

  • If you can get a defender to stand completely still then you've got them at your mercy. Everything they do from that stand still position becomes twice as difficult, trying to catch up to you, pivot or shuffle sideways becomes near impossible once you've made them freeze.
  • With that in mind don't slow down to a stand still unless you absolutely have to, keep moving and use that forward momentum to your advantage, after all you're the one moving forward and they're the ones shuffling backwards.

5. Try & Always Keep The Ball Moving

  • A defenders life is made difficult in 1 on 1 soccer situations when they're trying to track the moving player, the moving ball and everything else that is happening around them. Now don't make their job easier by stopping the ball dead (making it easy to track) and allowing the defender to get a beat on the ball and you.
  • Keep the ball rolling and constantly moving to make the defenders job as difficult as possible and make your life easy when trying to stride by them.

6. What Is Your Safe Move?

  • Not all moves are created to beat a player and sometimes half way through your move you realize they've read it and you just need to protect the ball at all costs. 
  • Your safe move should be a move you are really comfortable with. It should either beat the defender or at least protect the ball and give yourself a yard of space to think.
  • My favourite has always been the fake shot because it forces the defender to flinch for a second. Not just that it's on your dominant foot and by simply rolling the ball backwards or to the side you can shield it should the defender not fall for it. 

If you're looking for exercises you can use in small groups to help your 1v1 soccer attacking and defending feel free to find them at this link.

1 On 1 Soccer Defending Videos

Top 10 Things To Remember When Improving Your
1 On 1 Soccer Defending

soccer dribbling

What a great time is to be a defender, Messi? Ronaldo? never heard of them! Chiellini, Van Dyk and Ramos is more like it!

Being a great 1 on 1 soccer defender is all about being a counter puncher.  Most players when dribbling at a defender are waiting for them to bite on their first or second move to set up what they actually want to do to beat a player.

If you're defending 1v1 be patient, tackle with your front foot and try and make some contact (without fouling) to slow them down and give yourself a chance to make a tackle if you need to.

1. BE PATIENT!! They Will Just Give You The Ball!

  • I don't know how to say this any more clearly but as long as you don't jump in and remain discipline than nine times out of ten the attacker will just give you the ball. 
  • They will either run into you, fumble the ball or run out of room to do anything productive with it as long as you remain in a good defensive stance and wait them out.

2. Keep A Low Athletic Stance

  • Stay in a pouncing and ready to go position at all times meaning on your toes, knees bent, hands by your side ready to put in a tackle, pivot quickly or shield the ball as it comes your way. 
  • Always being ready is half the battle, try and avoid being upright and your legs stiff and straight.

3. Angle Of Your Run

  • If you come at a player straight on you're allowing them all the possible options to dribble you. 
  • If you can curve your run in a way to limit their options like pushing them closer to the sideline you have now made their play predictable and now put yourself and teammates in a stronger defensive position.

4. Communicate

  • Let your teammates around you know that you're stepping to the player with the ball so they know how to adjust accordingly. 
  • Not only will you help your teammates line up in a better position of coverage for you and the team as a whole you will also strike a little bit of fear into the attacker who can feel you stepping up and breathing down their neck until the give the ball up.

5. Front Foot Tackles

  • If you have to tackle with your bad foot you're either in a bad defensive position or you're about to be. 
  • Use your lead leg (the one closest to the ball) as you tackle so even if you miss you haven't fully compromised your defensive position and can still recover. If you swing and miss with the back leg the only thing you'll be covering is your face with your hands as the opponent blows by you.

6. Create A Two Yard Cushion

  • You want to close the space of the attacker so they don't have much room to operate and you can close the space they are working with. 
  • A little more than an arms length or approximately two yards is a good distance to pounce on any mistakes and still give yourself time to turn around and sprint with them should you need to.

7. Get Their Fast But Arrive Slow

  • When closing down a player you want to get their quickly but not arrive overly aggressive where they can just blow by you with ease. Use long strides to get their and start slowing down with small quicks steps as you approach the 5 yard mark.
  • Any smart attacker will see your reckless approach and simply touch the ball forward by you and as you try and stop your feet and change direction it will be far too late for you to recover.

8. Establish Early Contact

  • When you get in that close position touch them with your arm, shoulder, hip or anything else you can to allow yourself to get some early position up in their grill and make them uncomfortable.
  • An attacker thrives on having a run way to change direction and pick up speed, your job is to crowd that space so they can't get a head of steam going in any one direction and all they are doing is trying to shake you until more helps arrives.
  • 1 on 1 soccer defending doesn't need to be over complicated, stick to the basics and remain disciplined.

9. Turn Your Hips To Match Their Top Speed

  • Your job as a defender is not to allow them to get into a full sprinting stride. Once they've done that you're in a whole different world of trouble now. Speed kills any defender so be sure to get physical with them early and don't allow them to turn or anything else that may allow them to get to full speed.
  • If they do get up to full speed running with the ball (it will of course happen) then you need to turn your hips and face your own goal to be in the same running stride as them. If you try to shuffle your feet you will never keep up with them so take on the same sprinting motion they are and just turn your head and keep your eye on the ball.

10. All About PRIDE!

  • The most important element of becoming a great 1 on 1 soccer defender is that personal pride of never wanting to get beat. Some defenders have that inner warrior in them and others don't really care when they get beat, the ones that have that pride get up and scratch and claw to make up for their mistake, be that second kind of defender.
  • The attitude of not allowing people to beat you 1v1 is as important as the technical and tactical knowledge to stop an attacker, that grit and grind is what separates good defenders from elite ones.

1 On 1 Soccer Breakaway Videos

Things To Remember About 1 On 1 Soccer Breakaways Against The Keeper

  • To find out how to beat the Goalie 1 on 1 we have to think about how they were taught to stop it and then do the opposite, confused yet? So if goalies are taught to stand up straight we have to go low, if they are taught to stay on their line we have to dribble in nice and close before shooting.
  • So how are they taught? Goalies are told to wait for the touch that is far enough out of the players foot where they can come out and collect the ball or at least cut the angle down and give the shooter no space. So what is the opposite of a long touch, small touches of course.
  • One thing I always liked to do is eliminate the distractions, what I mean is pick a spot early then put the rest of your focus on just making really good contact with the ball. There is nothing worse then being 1 on 1 with the keeper and you miss hit it or shank it. Choose your spot on the net early, head down and focus on your foot hitting the ball solidly, nothing else.

TIP # 1

  • Take small touches when approaching the net and the 1 on 1 soccer situation with the goalie. If you can mix up the small touches.
  • Now what's it going to be??? Inside, top or even outside of the foot to finish off this breakaway? Decisions, decisions. This is your next decision and it all depends on where the goalie is, where the defender tracking you down is and of course where you are on the field.

TIP # 2

  • Make this choice early, one less thing to think about. Rule of thumb is go into it thinking inside of the foot unless you see something that would change your mind.
  • Make that your default, if nothing looks abnormal use it, if the keeper is way out or you don't have time you can then start to think about the chip or even toe poke.