Controlling the soccer ball is a fundamental soccer skill for all players of the beautiful game. When a pass is delivered to us, we have to control the ball effectively at whatever angle, height or speed it arrives. This means that when we play soccer we must really pay attention to the path of the ball as it comes to us. Receiving the ball requires good eye-foot coordination in order to get hold of the ball and keep possession for our team.
- It is all about our first touch. This is where we immediately soften, cushion or deaden the ball.
What we are aiming to do is to put the ball exactly where we want it with the same touch we use to bring it under control. This gives us the time and space to consider what to do next: pass, dribble or shoot. This takes lots of practice. Over time we will know what to do with the ball before it arrives.
Kick a ball against a wall and control the ball when it comes back at you. For now aim to ‘cushion’ it with your feet. Use the inside of your foot at first as this is the easiest way to control the ball. Later use the outside of your soccer shoes and the sole of your soccer boots.
Kick the ball at various heights and with various amounts of power. Each time control the rebound. Once you are comfortable with this drill, ask a friend to kick the ball against the wall and control the rebound.
As you do these drills, focus on the part of the ball where contact will occur.
Practice controlling a tennis ball (or mini-ball) as well as a full-sized ball. Notice how easy the bigger ball is to control after trying to control the smaller tennis ball. Remember to use both feet so that you don’t have a ‘weaker’ foot. Have a selection of soccer balls to practice with, including training balls and skill balls.
Now you can practice using your body – head, chest, thigh – to control the ball. Play a game of ‘head tennis’ with a friend. The aim is to keep the ball from touching the ground by using your head, chest, thigh or feet.
Practice controlling, trapping and cushioning the ball. Do these fun 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.
- Pay attention to the path of the soccer ball as it approaches.
- Focus on the part of the ball where contact will occur.
- Soften, cushion or deaden the ball as it arrives.