von Moritz Kossmann
This time I will write about how we train 1v1 at Young Bafana. In general, it is important to note that duels are an important part of any football match, training of this therefore is an integral part of any football player’s development. This is frequently noted by the DFB in its conception for the development of youth players. While acknowledging the importance of the training of the 1v1 situation, one major problem encountered in the training thereof is that it is often placed out of context.
The most obvious example would be isolated dribbling practice with no defenders, players might improve at the move itself, however they do not learn to place the move practiced into context. When we look at the best players around, we see that one of the major factors in them dominating the duel situation is that they have the right solution at the right moment. Why do a step-over for the sake of a step-over? Rather do this when it helps create space/beat a direct opponent. Due to this problematic it can be said that the above-mentioned exercises are far from the ideal solution for football-specific improvement.
A common example used is an exercise with 2 goals and goalkeepers where 1 player dribbles at a defender and tries to beat him with a dribble, if successful he finishes at goal, if he gets tackled the ball-winning defender finishes at the other end. This undoubtedly has significantly more value, firstly it involves a context for dribbling, so we have arrived at a form of decision making, and secondly transition moments and other key aspects of play also come into the equation.
The next step we need to arrive at is the fact that during a game of football, 11v11, isolated 1v1 situations do not happen. If a player receives the ball wide in an attacking position and beats an opponent to the inside, the success of this move will at large be determined by the position of opponents and teammates. This is a simple example to illustrate why interaction needs to be considered when training 1v1.
To tackle the above mentioned we have created a small and simple training form which nevertheless has high competitive value. We lay out a field of 7×10 meters (for example, field sizes can vary per focus point or age group being trained). The 7-meter line is the goal-line each player must defend in a 1v1. Points are scored for dribbling over the opposition players goal-line. On the side of the field we have a neutral player that can be used as a wall player for the player in position. This has a couple of interesting consequences:
- Players that are not front on confrontational dribblers can still be dominant in the exercise by using wall passes or creating dynamics with the wall players.
- The defending player has a game near situation. Instead of just having to close the ball carrier front on he now must worry about the wall player too. This means that the use of cover shadows is taught on a very basic level.
- Orientation as a defender but also as an attacker is trained more complexly with a variety of possibilities to beat the opponent to get across the line to score.
- Movement out of the cover shadow is trained, especially for the wall player but also for the player infield that is in possession.
The main advantage of this exercise is that it gives a context to 1v1 situations albeit a very simple one while at the same time having a lot of repetitions thereof. The task of the defender to use the cover shadow to isolate the attacker makes his job more complex and football-specific. Of course, it is possible to vary this exercise to suit your situation. For example, if you want to train a long-distance 1v1 you can make the field longer and give the rule that new situations start with attackers on their respective goal-line. Another variation that we introduced later was that points could also be scored by neutrals moving from the sideline to the opponent’s goal-line and receive the ball there, this would count for 1 point while a dribbling action was awarded 3 points.
Periodization is a crucial factor in this exercise, as the intensity and amount of actions per minute is very high you need to make sure that you award enough rest time in between repetitions. We used to play games between 45 and 60 seconds with 60 seconds’ rest in between. This was done in 2 sets of 5/6 repetitions each. Another useful element of this would be that you could use players that have had a high load recently as the wall players, therefore making sure that these players aren’t overloaded unduly by playing high intensity within the field.
Usually we play this game as a promotion relegation format where the winner moves up to a higher field and the looser moves to a lower ranked field, the player who wins the last game in the highest field is the winner of the day. This makes the whole exercise very exciting and players enjoy the competitive element of trying to finish in the highest field. Usually I rotate neutral players between rounds, however this is very individual as it depends on the individual periodization of each player and how much load would be right in a certain session.
Within the context of a session I would use this as a first main part followed by different bigger game forms.