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.
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.
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:
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.
- 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