Grassroots Coaching

Improving basic 1 v 1 Defending

A follow up to the recent post of the Technique of 1 v 1 defending. In this defending practice, we focus on the basics of 1 v 1 defending. Closing down as the ball travels: Distances: Body position: and feet movement


  • Players line up facing each other, 10 – 20 yards apart, with 10 yard wide zones for each pair.
  • Position cones directly behind each pair of players
  • On coaches’ command, the players at one end with the ball pass to their partners.
  • As the ball travels, they quickly close the ball down an
  • Initially, the receiving player walks forward with the ball, in a zig zag fashion and the defender mirrors their movement, backing off and keeping their distance



  • To develop players defensive movements and techniques and reactions to an attacker attacking them with a ball in 1 v 1 situations.
  • The players should rotate often, have lots of goes at defending  1 v 1 and gradually increase the pace of their movements.


  • On coaches’ command, one line of players with a ball each, pass the ball to their partner.
  • As the ball is travelling, they quickly close the ball down
  • They slow down and are under control as they approach the attacker.
  • Their partners (the attackers) then start walking with the ball towards the opposite line, zig zagging as they do so.
  • The defenders back of, mirroring the attackers’ movement and keeping a distance between themselves and the attackers.
  • When they reach the opposite end, the players change roles.
  • Gradually increase the pace and intensity of the players movement.


  • Pressure quickly, but slow down and be controlled as the player gets closer. Not too tight to attacker.
  • Angled approach of player –  show the attacker one direction
  • Body position, to force the attacker in one direction, be low and balanced and watch the ball
  • As attacker advances, back off and keep a good distance between attacker and themselves, don’t be too tight.
  • As attacker zig zags, mirror their movement, keeping the distance and body shape.
  • Defender to try and keep their body between attacker and cone behind them

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Defending Defending Tips