Tips For Improving Ball Control
Who wouldn't want to dribble like Messi, juggle like a street pro, or bend it like Beckham used to? Every soccer player would love to have that immense control of the ball kicking around with friends or during the game and set pieces. It's not a particularly quick or easy task to accomplish, but through a journey of everyday activity and practice, you can eventually get there yourself. Thankfully, CoachUp has compiled some basic tips you can use to improve your touch on the ball right away.
Juggle the Ball Often
Juggling can make you into a much better player, obviously. It allows you to develop a "relationship" with the ball, which means you will be able to react naturally to it. Try to juggle the ball with solid touches, paying attention to which part of your foot makes contact with the ball. Keep your foot extended and pointed, hitting the ball closer to your ankle or on your laces. If the ball makes contact closer to your toes, it's easier to miss-play the ball. Also, make contact with the ball high off the ground, trying the ball with as little spin as possible.
Some players juggle the ball close to the ground with a slight bend on the knee and a flexed foot, making contact with it closer to the tips of their toes -- but find what works best for you! Try juggling using the laces with an extended foot, making contact with the ball higher off the ground. This is more like striking the ball with your laces and forces you to find the "sweet-spot" on your foot every time you hit it!
If you hit the sweet-spot, the strike should feel effortless. You barely have to swing your leg. Just basically slowly place your foot under the ball while aiming for that sweet-spot. And if your technique is correct, the ball will effortlessly "pop" off your foot and make a thumping sound.
Quickness + Agility Drills
Ladder and hurdle drills are great to develop good footwork. Remember that today a great soccer player must also be a great athlete! This type of training improves your hand-eye coordination, reaction speed, and overall athleticism. Even though these are not exercises using the ball, improving your speed allows you to perform moves more quickly, so don’t overlook that part of your training. Do you want to have sick moves on the soccer field? Then your feet have to be quick enough to perform those moves...get quicker now!
Dribble The Ball Close To You
When doing dribbling exercises, keep the ball close to you without taking extra-long touches. This will allow you to change directions quickly if needed. Save the long touches for when you are trying to speed past a defender. But before that, keep the ball close with small and controlled touches, then fake one way and go the other! That's when you'll want to take a longer touch and speed away!
Always Measure Your Steps
Repetition makes perfect! For example, when taking penalty kicks, stand by the ball, take seven steps straight back towards the top of the box, then four steps to the side. Every step should be of a natural length and same size, so you get consistent distance on the approach. From there, take a deep breath and start walking forward to kick the ball -- always by taking the first step with your right foot. Start running on your fourth step, hitting the ball the same way, every time. But find out what works well for you, practice it often, and perfect it in your own way!
(Related: Read about how to advance your ball control here.)
Huddle Up It won't be easy to develop the insane skills you find on television -- in fact, it's a daily activity that the best athletes practice every day. Even if it's just fooling around or trying new stuff, soccer players work on their juggling and dribbling constantly. If you're still struggling with a certain more or concept, consider booking one of CoachUp's private trainers. Their extensive knowledge and expertise will have you embarrassing defenders in no time -- what are you waiting for?