Playing a match 1 against 1

See the video


Court size 3x3 m to 6x6 according to age
2 players + 1 referee
(+ 1 line judge depending on numbers)

Aim of the task:

Win the match in 11 points
Serve and play by hitting the ball
They can touch the ball several times in a row


  • Touching the ball more than three times is rarely an advantage. However, it this appears and persists against the spirit of the game we will set a limit of 3 touches.
  • Service from the centre of the court can be authorised for pupils in difficulty. Than evolve towards a serve from the back of the court.
  • It is interesting to change the size of the court:
    • longer, it will open up long spaces and create problems of movement forward / back,
    • wider than long it created problems of sideways moves and orientation.

    In any case, it must be big enough to require moving and open up spaces.

What the pupil learns

  • Where did I place myself to defend?
    I prefer moves towards the front.
  • How to reach the ball?
    I am ready and alert (attitude). I set off at the same time as the ball.
  • I aim where the opponent is not.
  • After the hit, I re-place myself to defend my court.

Observation and key points

Preparation, placing and reaction time.
Put more value on the tactical attack of empty spaces than on ill oriented hit backs.


This is an opportunity early on in the first matches to introduce refereeing gestures.

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During the game we intervene on the successes and failures in order to identify the problems and solutions. The game is an emotionally charged moment. The role of the teacher and of some pupils as observers or 'trainers", is to highlight the sources of progress and success, the possible learning.

Placing and replacing

  • The net acts like a magnet. The player comes forward systematically and places himself relative to the ball alone. After hitting he stays where the first hit brought him.
  • In the beginning, there is no representation of the target to defend (similar problem to the beginner goal keeper) See the resource on
    representations of the target to defend
  • The immediate replacing after hitting, particularly from the front to the back is an indicator of progress worthy of praise.
  • When in technical difficulty on low balls players try to stay "under" running the risk of being lobbed.
  • And yet without great technique, they are more successful with low hits by moving forward, than on high hits by stepping back.
  • In our diagnosis of failures we will always be watchful, beyond the initial placing, to the attitude in preparation and the concentration on the signal of opponent hit. Nevertheless the 1 against 1 favours involvement in the game and we will still need to be alert to these elements when we move on to a team game which introduces fluctuations in the mental commitment in the action (player spectator).

It is not necessary to limit the hits in so far as they do not constitute a manifest advantage. We look to encourage attack construction and continuity of the game: improve the position of attack and for example reach the empty spaces in the opponent's court or recover an unfavourable situation created by the first hit. It is on these points that we will focus.

We will limit them only if there is an obvious abuse of the spirit of the game which consists in defending one's court and counter-attacking towards the opposite camp. For example when things turn to a pointless juggling game. However, these behaviours are generally detrimental to the player and you only need to point this out for them to disappear.

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