Taking on and Beating Opponents

Youth Session Plan – Taking on and Beating Opponents

Objective: To encourage players to take on opponents in 1v1 situations

The set up: Magic Rectangle – The overall pitch size is 40×30 with the central third being 16 yards long.

1v1 Games: The diagram below shows the four 1v1 games which are worked through with the team in order. Try and change the players around before you move onto each new game. If you have more than 8 players just use more of the rectangles.


Game 1- Leg GoalsIn pairs, one player with ball, in each grid. The blue player has ball and must dribble ball around grid trying to kick it into the legs of the red player. The red player must avoid being hit by using quick feet. The blue player gets 2 minutes to get as many points as they can then change over so the red players have the ball.

Game 2 – Keep Ball: The Blue player dribbles the ball and tries to shield the ball from the red player who must either put the ball out of play or regain possession for a point. Play for 2 minutes then change over and make the red player keep the ball.

Game 3 – Line Soccer: Players stand on a goal line opposite each other The red player passes ball to the blue player who must then try to beat the red player and score a point by stopping the ball on the opposite line. How many goals can the blue player score in 2 minutes before the roles are reversed?

Game 4 – 3 Way Goals: The red player passes to the blue player who then has to beat the red player to either of the 3 corners. 1 point for getting to the corner goals 3 points for the goal behind the defenders starting position. Play for 2 minutes then reverse the roles.

4v4 To goal or the corner –The players are then split into two teams, 4v4 or 5v5, whatever suits your group. The four central cones and the small goals used for the previous drill are removed.


The game is played with the use of the whole pitch and the support of extra players and no goalkeepers. Players score two points for dribbling the ball through the goal and one point for dribbling the ball to the corner. You can award extra points for players beating players 1v1, or where they have actively got their head up and looked for the best space to attack.

Normal Game: Play a normal game with a focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players taking on opponents 1v1.


Dribble or Pass?

Youth Session Plan – Dribble or Pass?

Objective: To develop the decision-making of the player in possession, when to dribble and when to pass?

The Set Up: Magic Rectangle – The overall pitch size is 40×30 with the central third being 16 yards long

Xavi, Iniesta, Messi Passing  – Having watched this Coerver Coaching video on the FourFourTwo Performance website, this is a variation I came up with to make it easier for younger or less able players to play using one ball.


The outside players are restricted to simple short passes, like in a Rondo, but the player in the middle could be creative with their pass (using back heels, Ronaldo chops etc).

The player on the outside passes the ball to the player in the middle and the outside player moves to the space between the two cones that is empty. Each player was given about a minute in the middle before they changed with another player, ensuring everyone gets a turn in the middle. Repeat the exercise but removed the restriction on always passing to the player in the middle, so the player makes a pass outside they feel an outside player is better placed to receive the ball than the player in the middle.

2v1 Line Soccer – Using the rectangles in the centre of the pitch pair up players to create 2×1 games, if you have odd numbers have some of the better players play 2v2. Can the players use some the creativity from the previous exercise to create opportunities to get passed the defender? No restrictions are put on the players insisting they pass, let them decide what works and what doesn’t.


Swap the players around so that each pair plays the role of the defender.

Lane Soccer – In this small sided game the channels running the length of the pitch are used. Each team must have at least one player in each of the three zones. They can receive, pass and dribble but can’t go out of their zone. Goalkeepers can be used if required. The diagram shows the game with different cones, if you use the magic rectangle set up, there is no need to change cones as the channels have already been created. As well as creating lots of 1v1’s and opportunities to switch play, it also has the added benefit of preventing younger players from bunching up. Each team must have at least one player in each of the three zones.


For older players, if they leave the a zone empty they concede a free kick wherever the infringement took place. After a few goals, swap the players to a new zone.

Normal Game: Play a normal game with a focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to taking players on or passing to create opportunities for their team.

Changes of Direction in 1v1 Situations

Youth Session Plans – Changes of Direction in 1v1 Situations

Objective: Focus on being able to change direction in 1v1 situations both with and without the ball.

Ball Work – As players arrive they are asked to get a ball, find some space on the pitch and individually practise their dribbling and juggling skills – Fifa street style. Then players where asked to demonstrate for the rest of the team any new skills they had taught themselves.

1v1 to Two Goals: Split your players into two groups, defenders and attackers. The defending group will each start with a ball.


The defender passes the ball accurately across the area to the attacker and runs forward to defend. The attacker must attempt to get past the defender in order to score in one of the target goals, by using trick feints or speed to beat them. Rotate the players the by getting them to go to the opposite line after each attempt.

Lose Your Marker – Split players into four groups. One group will be the attacking player, one group the defending player and two groups will be the passers (each one of these should have a ball. Goalkeepers are optional).


An attacker and a defender stand opposite each other, 3 yards apart, the defender has their back to goal. The attacking player has to make a run to lose their marker in order to get a first time shot at goal.They can get the defender off balance by moving left or right behind the cones. The defending player cannot move until the attacker makes their run between the two cones. The attacker has to call the name of the player they want to receive a pass from as the make their run and  we are looking for a first time shot on goal.. Rotate the players through the positions regularly as this game can be get quite tiring.

Multiball Game: Pick two teams, one attacking and one defending and place a quantity of balls in the middle of the pitch. You will need more than the number of players in the attacking team


The defending team defend the goals but are not allowed to act as keepers or permanently stand in the goals. The attacking team continuously  take a ball from the middle and attempt to beat defenders or take advantage of space to score goals, until all the balls have gone. If an attacking player misses a shot they have to collect their ball and return it to the middle. Once all the balls have been used the teams change roles. The team which scores with all the balls in the quickest times wins.

Normal Game: Focus on the skills learnt in the session, giving particular praise to players taking players on opponents.


I have been given the topic of Dribbling for my final level 2 assessment and I would be interested to hear your feedback on the session I have been planning. Pitch size is 40yds long x 30yds wide.

Key Factors:

  • Keep the ball close
  • Dribble with your head up
  • Speed/Change of pace
  • Change of direction
  • Feints
  • Positive attitude

Technical: (Time approx 7 minutes)

Level 2 Dribbling Technical

Group of players with a ball dribble to their partners. When they reach their partner they perform a “take” and the partner dribbles to the opposite line and back, keeping the ball close to their feet and their head up.  Progress the session by asking the players to add a change of pace when they get half way across the area (yellow cones). Then introduce feints and change of direction moves to the players, like Stepovers or Matthews

Skill: (Time approx 7 mins)

Level 2 Dribbling Skill
Level 2 Dribbling Skill

Playing in the same area as the technical session and still in their pairs one player attacks one player defends. The attacker then has dribble and the defender and beat them with a skill. If the attacker beats the defender they keep the ball and start again. If the defender gets the ball then they become the attacker.

Small Sided Game: (Time approx 15 mins)

Level 2 Dribbling Small Sided Game
Level 2 Dribbling Small Sided Game

Play 4v4 + Gks  in a 40×30 grid. The players should be encouraged to dribble with realism to produce an end product. Either a shot at goal, pass or cross.

Please leave a comment

NB: This session was revised on 08/11/14 following the feedback I received.