Soccer is a sport of speed, fitness, stamina, precision, and agility. Anything you do to improve one of these areas will assist your soccer game. For this reason, starting training with some laps of the oval and some technical skills such as juggling the ball, is a useful idea.
Dribbling the Ball
Dribbling a soccer ball involves moving the ball around the field in a controlled manner. To dribble the ball well, you need to become very comfortable with a soccer ball – almost until the point that you feel the ball is an extension of your feet and you know exactly where each tap of the ball will cause it to go. Even better if you can do this dribbling without watching the ball all the time. I used to walk around our streets dribbling my soccer ball all the way. This gives some variety to your practice regime.
There are different ways to dribble a soccer ball, such as using the inside, outside and sole of both feet.
Once again, the more versatile you can become with dribbling, the better your soccer game will become. You will also find it much easier to get the ball around players who are opposing you – as you will have good ball control and not lose the ball as easily.
Receiving/Trapping the Ball
Receiving/Trapping the Ball is a vital skill in Soccer. When the Ball is coming towards you, you can receive it with your feet, head or any part of the body except your hands/arms. When you trap the ball, you bring it to a point of control so that you can efficiently manage what happens to the ball next.
One way to trap the ball is with your foot. To do this you bring the toe of the receiving foot up and put the heel down while at the same time locking your ankle. As the ball touches your receiving foot, you slightly relax your foot to cushion the ball so it comes under control and does not bounce away.
Striking/Kicking the Ball
Striking/kicking the ball is a vital skill in soccer
- When the ball is under control look up to where you want to kick the ball
- Look at the ball
- Plant your non-kicking foot on the ground, bring back your kicking leg ready to kick the ball
- Kick the ball according to where you want it to go
- If you want to kick the ball high, aim for the bottom of the ball
- If you want to curve the ball in the air, aim for the sides of the ball
- For a standard kick aim for the center of the ball
- Kick the ball with the inside or outside of the foot or the laces of the soccer boot
During a soccer game if the ball goes out over the sideline the game will be re-started using a throw-in. A good throw-in can make a great deal of difference to your soccer game. You must throw the ball in…
- with both hands
- from behind the head
- with both feet on the ground
- You may run up to the field before throwing the ball, but when you release the ball both of your feet must be on the ground. Before doing your throw-in you need to decide whether you are going to do your throw-in from a standing position or a run in.
Stationary (standing) Throw-ins
- Grip the ball firmly on the sides with both your hands
- Have your feet a shoulder-width apart
- Point your elbows outwards to give you as much throw power as possible
- Decide who you are going to pass the ball to, but do not look directly at them
- Now throw the ball from behind your head
- Note that you may lift your heels to help you balance, but both feet must be touching the ground when you do your throw-in
For a running throw-in, both feet still must be in contact with the ground when you release the soccer ball. To perform a running throw-in well
- Go back from the sideline several steps
- Hold the ball behind your head and run in towards the sideline
- Stop just before the sideline by planting your comfortable foot down
- You will need to drag the toe your other foot to make sure it stays in contact with the ground
- Throw the ball into your teammate as soon as you stop
A penalty kick occurs during a soccer game when the referee indicates that a penalty kick (a type of free-kick) is to be taken. In a penalty kick situation, the goalkeeper of the defending team is the only soccer player between the penalty kicker and the goal. Taking a penalty kick can be a stressful experience.
- Practice being focused, calm and composed while facing the goalie as you are ready to kick the penalty
- Visualize the penalty kick being successful
- Understand that the goal keeper will be reading your movements and knows your playing style
- Be careful where you look and place your feet, because the goalie will be looking for any indication of your intentions
- Know your best penalty kick strategies
- Work out your tactics while the referee is placing the ball
- Take the shot once the referee has whistled that it is time to kick the ball
- Shoot with speed
- Stay focused even after the penalty kick in case the ball rebounds
Heading the Ball
Heading a soccer ball is an extremely important skill! it can help your team score more goals and keep possession of the ball when it is in the air. At first, soccer players are often scared to try heading a soccer ball in case it hurts. However, if you learn how to head a soccer ball correctly you will not need to be afraid to use this skill in a game.
To head the ball well you need to have your feet planted firmly on the ground. Bend your knees slightly to keep yourself stable when the ball hits your head. Watch the ball very carefully as it comes towards your head. You want the ball to connect with the center of your forehead.
Juggling the Ball
Juggling the ball is an extremely important technical skill. It requires that the soccer player is very comfortable with the soccer ball and accurate in directing the ball with precise force. Although juggling is difficult to master, it is a skill well worth persisting with, as it will improve your ball mastery and pay dividends in your game.
Juggling the ball can be done with any part of your body except your hands/arms. Most commonly, however, the feet or knees are used in juggling. To start juggling, drop the ball from waist height onto the dominant (strong) foot. Gently use the flat top of your foot to propel the ball vertically upwards so that you can catch it in your hands. Repeat this process until you can confidently catch the ball each time. Next start this process again with your non-dominant foot until you are confident with it too.
When you are able to do this easily, start juggling the ball multiple times on the one foot before catching it. Now you are ready to juggle with alternate feet. Once again drop the ball from waist height onto your dominant foot and when you kick it upwards, receive it on your non-dominant foot as it falls. Repeat this process until you are able to easily juggle the ball with both feet alternately. To add to the challenge as you master this skill, start by leaving the ball on the ground and kicking it into the air for the first juggle. Each time, try to beat your previous record. After this try juggling with your knees or shoulders for an added challenge… Or add in a few tricks like an ‘around the world’ every now and again!