Beginner Soccer Skills 3: Dribbling

Running with the ball – also known as dribbling – is one of the soccer skills that is exciting to do and see others do.We keep the ball under control and use dribbling to beat defenders. They will often panic when we run right at them. There are many tricks and techniques that we can use when running at defenders such as the step-over, nutmeg, and shoulder drop.

But before we go into how to run with the soccer ball, stop for a second and think about what we are actually trying to achieve here…

  • What is essential about dribbling is our ability to keep the ball under close control and to change direction.

For dribbling we need to be very comfortable with the ball (soccer skill 1) so that we can keep it close as we run past defenders. When we run with the ball, we can use our feet in many ways – inside, outside, sole and heel – to keep the ball close at the same time as moving it forward.

The basic idea is to move the ball ahead of us in small movements and to fool the defender into thinking we are going one direction, when we really go in a different direction.

EXERCISE 1

The key is to PUSH the ball forward. Make little touches forward. Keep it simple and slow. Gradually increase your speed as you get more familiar with this movement. Keep your head up and look in front of you as you tap the ball forward.

EXERCISE 2

With a friend (or an inanimate object like a tree or a ‘No Ball Games Allowed’ signpost), practice running with a ball towards them (or it). When you get close to them, slow down for a few steps and then increase your speed past them. Notice how this can leave the defender standing still as they do not have the time to react to your new movement.

Do this many times, sometime passing on their right side and sometimes on their left. Once you are comfortable with, start pretending to go right and then quickly go left  to unbalance the defender. Then try moving to your left and then shifting your right as you go past the defender.

Maradona shows how it is done:

SKILLS HOMEWORK

Practice pushing the ball forward and changing direction. Do these two soccer drills every other day for 3 weeks. As for the other skills, take the time to imagine doing these soccer skills in your mind whenever you can.

REMEMBER

  • Keep your head up while running and look around you
  • Keep the ball close
  • Slow down as you get near the defender
  • Increase your speed to go past the defender
  • Pretend to go right and then go left  to unbalance the defender

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Beginner Soccer Skills 2: Passing

Soccer passing is the most important of all youth soccer skills. It is essential for any position on the pitch. All soccer passes – short, long, curved, crosses – have a common basis for achieving direction and speed.

But before we go into how to pass a soccer ball, stop for a second and think about what we are actually trying to achieve here. The key word is PASS. We are wanting to create a free-flowing pass – naturally- where we are swinging our foot effortlessly through the ball so that it goes in the direction that we intend.

If you only remember one thing about passing, remember this:

  • We aim to pass the ball to a teammate who is in a better position than we are.

This means that we know when to pass – whenever a teammate is in a better position – whenever a teammate is unmarked or has space to move.  This means also that we need to know where our nearest team mates are on the pitch at all times. We need to be able to ‘see’ the playing field and know who is free to receive the ball from us at any moment. This awareness is a fundamental skill that we will develop over time and it is something that we will work on in a later exercise. For now though, let’s do…

EXERCISE 1

Practice making short passes to a friend or against a wall with a full-sized ball. Look at the ball and stroke it with the side of your foot. Aim to make the ball roll along the ground. Watch the ball closely as it moves towards the target.

Which direction does the ball spin? Clockwise? Anti-clockwise? How fast is it moving?

With each pass you make, focus on stroking the ball in a smooth motion. With each pass, vary how hard you stroke the ball and vary the length of your follow through. Notice the difference in how the ball moves with each variation you make.

EXERCISE 2

Get a tennis ball. Yes that’s right – a small tennis ball. Find a wall. Pass and control the ball against the wall. Do five passes on each foot and then slowly do more. Try it close to the wall and then further away. Over time, you want to be doing more with your ‘weaker’ foot.

Practice this 100 times. The aim of this exercise is to develop both feet so that you don’t have a ‘weaker’ foot. Most won’t bother to do this kind of training. But those will who want to be good at soccer.

Once you know what kicking a tennis ball feels like, take the time to practice this skill in your mind in the same way as the soccer skills 1.

SKILLS HOMEWORK

Practice making short passes with the inside and outside of your foot with both balls. Do these two soccer passing drills every other day for 3 weeks. You can also imagine doing these soccer skills in your mind whenever you can – while in a class at school or in front of the tv .

REMEMBER

  • Pass the ball to a teammate who is in a better position than we are.
  • Focus on stroking the ball in a smooth motion with the inside and outside of your feet.

That’s it. Once you’ve got the hang of that, move on to the art of dribbling…

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Learn Soccer Skills Watching The World Cup 2010

During any sports tournament that is broadcast on television (such as tennis, golf and the Olympics), the amateur players of these sports find that their skills at these sports can improve as they watch the professionals play at the highest level. TV viewers who know what it feels like to play the sport can train the awareness and the muscle memory in their minds and bodies as they unconsciously absorb the skills through visualization and imagination.

The World Cup 2010 soccer tournament in South Africa is a great opportunity to improve your soccer skills just by watching the box. It is exciting to support a particular team and watch them progress (or not!) through to the latter stages of the competition. We feel we are part of the whole event.

There are 32 teams in the competition. There are great players to watch and learn in all soccer positions: goalkeeping, defence, midfield and attack. Players that many are looking forward to see in action are: Kaka of Brazil, Wayne Rooney of England, Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, Fernando Torres of Spain, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, Lionel Messi of Argentina, and Arjen Robben of Netherlands. Who will be the surprise star of the World Cup 2010? There is always one.

It is well-known that visualization (aka mental rehearsal) can be the difference that makes the difference at the highest level of sport. By creating a mental image or intention of what they want to happen or feel, sports performers can improve their physical and psychological reactions in certain situations. They can also build both experience and confidence in their ability to perform certain skills under pressure, and in a variety of possible situations.

I wonder how many of the World Cup teams are rehearsing the taking of penalties in the minds as well as on the training pitch. I bet not many. Yet they will need to develop mental toughness to succeed under this kind of pressure in front of the millions watching on tv.

Will watching tv improve your soccer skills? Try it and see. Play a game of soccer after watching some of the games in the World Cup 2010 and see if there is an improvement in your ability. While watching you get to wear your favorite soccer cap and soccer jersey. If only all homework was this much fun…

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