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1v1 Keep The Ball - Partners

Set Up

These are a few of the standard set ups we use for this activity. Vary your size and shape based on the number of players you have and their ability level. We tend not to make the space for this activity too big as that tends to encourage more running or kicking and chasing the ball.


Half of your players will start inside the rectangle with a ball the other half of the players will start on the outside of the rectangle without a ball. Put your players into pairs and put players of similar ability together.

The objective of the exercise is for those players who do not have a ball to win a ball from their partner and then keep it away from their partner. Players who have a ball at the end of 60 seconds are the winners. Switch who starts with the ball and play again.

One rule is that if you dribble the ball outside of the zone you must give the ball to the player who forced you out of the zone, this simulates what happens in a game.

Likewise if the defender tries to get the ball and just kicks it out of the zone the player who had the ball retains the ball.



A few variations you can use are below, simply change the starting position of the defenders to give the players with the balls a different perspective and challenge. A couple of other things you can also do for variety are:

  • Switch up the partners so players get to play against a different player
  • Add time limit, play a lightening round or a marathon round

Coaching Points

Objectives - Coaching Points

  • Show players how to shield/hide the ball when they run out of space and get near to the edges of the zone.
  • Show the player how to shield/hide the ball and look over their shoulder to see when the defender is behind them and turn away from the defender so as not to show them the ball.
  • Show players how to turn away from the defender keeping their body between the defender and the ball rather than turning into the defender and showing them the ball.
  • Encourage players who have a ball to dribble to the space furthest from their partner.

Coaching Questions

Q. When should you dribble the ball?

A. When you have space in-front of you and no other players are blocking your way.

Q. When should you shield/hide the ball?

A. When you get close to the edge or the corner of the playing grid and want to keep the ball in play or when other players are blocking the space to dribble into.


  • Use lots of cones to define your grid so your younger players can easily identify the boundaries of your grid.
  • Show your players how to take smaller softer touches on the ball so the ball stays closer to them and they can stop it from going out of the grid.
  • Show players how to use the sole of their foot to control the ball especially if they are hiding/shielding the ball.
  • Show players how they can keep possession by shielding the and hiding the ball rather than dribbling at full speed.