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High-Intensity 1v1 Pre-Season Exercises

We continue our MSC pre-season series this week by taking a closer look at 1v1 exercises and ways to maximize them alongside pre-season planning. There is no doubt that 1v1 work can be extremely beneficial to teams and players as they start their preparation for the new season. They give coaches the opportunity to communicate basic attacking and defensive principles, expose players to competitive situations, and can increase fitness levels with repeated high-intensity work. However, the choice of exercise can often determine whether those objectives can be met and experienced by the players. A traditional 1v1 exercise (in the video below), is probably one of the most common ones that we have seen throughout the years but is it finally time for an upgrade? In other words, can coaches utilize better 1v1 exercises that can engage the players in competition and meet pre-season objectives? Let's take a closer look....

With the help of data and research, we are getting more and more information today about 1v1 situations and very few of them are actually set-up like this traditional exercise above. When Nottingham Forest academy coach, Jonas Munkvold presented on for a webinar alongside MSC in 2019, he gave excellent insight into his perspective of ‘football actions’ on the youth side of the game as it relates to 1v1 situations. Jonas explained how all football actions begin with the player interpreting the game and experiencing 1v1 situations directly related to the position that they play and where they receive the ball. With that in mind, Jonas built a framework of how different positions require different skillsets (see below).

Below are some examples of exercises that expose players to different angles and situations in the game. You can also watch the full video on YouTube.

Exercise One: 1v1 Arsenal Transitional Exercise

This is a transitional exercise that is perfect for a warm-up or activation activity. Two teams are set up in an area, where the first attacker drives out through the gates and scores in the mini-goal. After the shot, the opposition attacker can go and the first attacker now becomes the recovering defender. The attacker cannot score until they drive through the gate so the recovering defender has enough time to catch them. The game continues to flow without any stoppages and players are also tested on focus, alongside that speed in the transition.

(See below)

Exercise Two: Bayern Munich 1v1 Exercise

This was an exercise that Pep Guardiola used when he was in Germany with the pitch divided into three areas and the squad split into two groups. Both teams occupy the wide areas and start the exercise with an un-opposed shooting activity to goal. After the shot, both players sprint into the middle and then play 1v1 against one another. The angle of approach is interesting in how Guardiola has designed the exercise. Again there is a constant flow with servers utilized to manage the rotations and assist with all aspects of the exercise. (See below)

We have two more 1v1 exercises to share.... to watch them, please check out the video below.

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