Soccer Skills Training

Four SIMPLE things you can do on your own – Today - to become a better soccer player.

For about 20 years I have helped hundreds of players develop the skills needed to succeed at their highest level of soccer. Through all those years and all the players, four simple, yet powerful, training routines have proven the most effective ways to develop the skills that help you dominate the game from an early age.  

Part of the problem is that they’re easy. They don’t require expensive equipment, a large field or even a coach. Anyone can do them almost anywhere!! Because they are so easy to do and inexpensive, everyone overlooks them. But now you have the key to success. So there’s no excuse. And best of all, it works. I’ve seen it time and time again. Follow these four simple drills and we guarantee you will become a much better player.

What do these 4 simple drills improve the most?

First Touch/Ball control

Basis for field vision

Efficiency with your touches

Confidence with the ball and on the field

1 v 1 dribbling moves

Attacking ability

1. Find a Wall.

The first thing you need to do is go find a wall somewhere. Anywhere. Make sure you are not damaging anything. But this can be as simple a log in your back yard. An old brick wall. The side of a stair. Anything that will make the ball bounce back to you. I’ve even used an old couch or sometimes the side of your bed. There is some equipment that you can buy that mimics a wall, but you don’t need it. If you can’t find a wall, beg a friend or parent to be your wall and pass the ball back to you.

Practice your shooting, passing, and receiving against a wall (or a parent/friend/sibling/neighbor). This promotes proper passing, shooting, and trapping technique through multiple repetitions. It’s a convenient tool that forces players to naturally develop the proper body language needed to execute an effective kick and trap. If you don’t have a wall, find something that is safe and that will bounce the ball back to you.

• Always line up your body with the ball. Do not lunge at the ball.

• Stay on the balls of your feet, keep knees bent slightly, stay balanced, and eyes focused on the ball.

• Practice kicking with the laces, the inside, and the outside of the foot. The key is to shuffle quickly to line up your body with the ball. All three types of kicks require the same body language with only the foot moving from inside to outside to shoelace.

Do Not go wild here. The point is not to see how hard you can kick, but rather how controlled your technique is. You want to develop good habits and starting with your shooting and receiving technique are just a few of them.

• When receiving the ball, make sure your body is lined up properly and use the inside of the foot.

So how will this help you become a better player? Well as your shooting technique improves, and you develop this habit of having the ability to shoot with inside, outside, and laces of BOTH feet, it becomes automatic. These repetitions also help you improve the speed of play and confidence on the ball. Having the ability to shoot and pass with both feet makes a very dangerous player for the defense.

Repetitions receiving the ball will also help you improve your first touch. Make sure you learn to receive with the INSIDE and OUTSIDE of BOTH feet. You can also work on turning with the ball to improve efficiency of your movement and receiving of the ball. Now go find that wall and practice every day! Remember that all of this needs to be done on a daily basis to really maximize development!

2. Three words: Juggle, Juggle, Juggle.

Juggling promotes ball control and a soft touch, which improves balance and coordination. This will also promote a great first touch and confidence with the ball. Start with just a few minutes each day and you’ll be amazed how much you improve. And besides it’s so much fun! Remember use BOTH feet and don’t forget to challenge yourself by using your thigh, shoulders, and head. And kick the ball higher as you begin to gain control with more than 10 juggles, unless you are indoors, then you want to keep it low.

Here are some simple steps to follow to improve your soccer juggling.

• Stay relaxed, keep the knees and hips flexible, and avoid juggling with tight knees and rigid straight legs.

• Remember that you control the ball, the ball doesn't control you. Stay focused on this idea, and it will be a reality.

• Initially isolate the foot, thigh, and head (work on one at a time) and build up juggling repetitions. You can start by throwing the ball up in the air and let it bounce, then start the juggling off the bounce. Ensure that the right and left foot get equal repetitions.

• As your control Improves, start using all parts of your body (feet, thigh, chest, shoulder, and head)

• Within a year's time players can gradually improve their juggling to where they can run full speed while juggling the ball across a field. (You can do this! It just takes practice over and over — a little each day).

• Juggle with a smaller ball or even a tennis ball. There’s a challenge involved in controlling a smaller ball and it will make a regular ball feel like a beach ball.

• Juggle with a friend or two when possible. Not only is it more fun, but it enables players to practice directing the ball in different directions.

3. Three more words: Dribble, Dribble, Dribble.

Dribbling is the easiest to practice. You can grab a ball and walk around with it inside your home. No need to kick or explode into a sprint, just dribble around. As your dribbling ability increases with BOTH feet, so will your ability to take on defenders and 1 v 1 moves. This might be the single most effective way to get around defenders, by dribbling. The key here is to develop the ability to dribble without looking at the ball. Keeping your head up to see the field and see defenders and keepers is critical.

• If you are sitting down watching TV, have a ball at your feet. Even just pendulums while sitting down will help. Do these while focusing on the television. Or even better, just get up and dribble while you watch TV or anything else that doesn’t require your feet.

• If you need to get up to go to the bathroom or to get a drink of water, take the ball with you, taking small touches.

• If you are talking on the phone, dribble the ball. You don’t need special equipment or a practice field, just dribble around. If you have a backyard, then go dribble. If it’s winter and you only have your room, then dribble.

• Switch back and forth from foot to foot, inside/outside, and changing directions. Also use laces to dribble. Use the sole of your foot. Change things up, always staying light on your feet. Work on turns and quickness and remember to master BOTH feet!

4. Watch TV!

Finally an easy simple thing you can do to massively improve your soccer development is to just watch high level soccer games. And especially today with YouTube, there is no excuse. This promotes a visual understanding of how the game is played and how individual skills are executed. It helps players become students of the game. It gives both visual and auditory stimuli (you see it and hear it) to enhance your soccer intelligence.

• YouTube is an excellent source to watch the highlights. This is also a great tool to

learn and discover new moves and tricks. The Champions League and the World Cup are the pinnacle of great soccer. No excuses why you can’t watch high level soccer.

• Watch for game tactics and intelligence. For example: when is it acceptable to dribble, and when is it necessary to pass? Watch the players switch the ball from one side to the other. Look at their composure on the ball. Watch the movement of players that don’t have the ball.

• Pick a favorite team and player and watch them play weekly. You’ll get a sense of their style and strengths, some of which you will begin to emulate. You can have more than one favorite player.

Conclusion: Well those are the 4 things you can do today. There is nothing stopping you from being a better soccer player. You don’t need fancy expensive equipment. You don’t need expensive clinics or camps. You don’t need a personal trainer. You don’t need an expensive travel club to learn the basics.

These drills will help you improve the basics of soccer, which are critical at the highest level of competition. Watch a professional soccer game and you will see that most touches on the ball are with the inside part of their feet. Shots are with laces and inside the foot. There are very few “fancy” moves. The game is mostly played with simple passes. The difference is that these players can do these basic things at the speed of light and think 2-3 passes ahead. Their vision, first touch, and efficiency are extraordinary. That’s what sets them apart. They spent thousands and thousands of hours repeating the same passes repeatedly in different environments. So now it’s like they can do it in their sleep. That’s the way it has to be for you! You have to be able to receive the ball from your wall without looking at it, just feeling it on your feet. You must make millions of passes with both feet and perfect your technique so that the accuracy and speed of your passes improves over time.

We can’t stress it enough. Ball Control. Dribbling. First Touch. Passing. Shooting. Receiving. You must be able to do all of these at very fast speeds. But it all starts with the right technique. Once that is perfected, you move on to repetition. Then your speed increases. Then you can do this while defenders are coming after you.

This takes discipline and not everyone will do it, but the ones that do will overcome many obstacles. There are no shortcuts. There are no expensive camps or clinics that help you avoid long hours of practice. You must commit your time and effort. There’s not other way around it.

Good luck and let us know how you are doing. We really appreciate all of you that send us emails regarding your improvements. Cheers!

 

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