Over the past decade, the emphasis on attacking play in the beautiful game has grown and grown. Coaches and fans are increasingly more excited about the attacking moments of the game, rather than defensive moments. Defending has become an afterthought, and teams that set up to defend are often deemed "boring" and "dinosaurs" by fans around the world. But defending remains an integral component to the modern game, and often it can be seen that teams with the better defense structures (Atletico, Manchester City, etc.) often win more football matches.
Players engage in 1v1 battles just about as much as anything else in the game. So, to help players defend their 1v1's to the best of their ability, we provide eight tips for success when defending 1v1 situations.
Over the years of coaching youth soccer, I have seen entire curriculums made up of 1v1/2v2 and activities. Sometimes clubs focus solely on these topics throughout their curriculums, particularly with regards to younger players. For me personally, I love to be more possession-focused and most of my activities revolve around topics of how to get the most out of our attack and time on the ball. 1V1 and 2V2 activities can also be dangerous to implement as a lot of them involve far too much waiting in lines. That said, 1v1 defending and attacking is still an essential session topic to cover in any season, regardless of your coaching philosophy and approach. As the great football pundit and commentator Don Hutchinson once said - "People think it's a game of 11v11. It's not. It's a game of 1v1. Win your individual battles." So with that, here is a session all about both 1v1 attacking and 1v1 defending.
Over the past year of coaching 9v9 soccer, the 3-2-3 has become my favourite formation to use. I am a firm believer that the formation of any team should not be based around a club identity or a coach’s personal style of play, but rather based around the team’s style of play and the personnel of the team. However, I have found that the 3-2-3 is fantastic in suiting nearly every type of player and the simple and easy variations that can be created using the formation such as shifting into a 3-1-3-1, allow coaches to tweak and change their style of play to fit the needs of the vast majority of youth soccer players.