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Coaching Youth Soccer – ‘Dribbling’ The Most Important Skill? »

Why is dribbling one of the most basic [tag-tec]soccer skills[/tag-tec] but probably the most important skill a soccer player should be practicing? Firstly, if you are [tag-tec]coaching youth soccer[/tag-tec] you need to understand why a player needs to learn such a skill.  Let me explain further….

Young players should be encouraged to dribble at every opportunity.  [tag-tec]Soccer[/tag-tec] is a game where tight marking is the norm, it takes players that have good dribbling ability to ‘open up’ the opposition’s defense and create space.  There are times when a player will reach the ball at the same time as their opponent and unless the player can move the ball quickly, feint, dodge, or shield the ball, they will probably be tackled and lose possession.

Dribbling in its basic form is an essential [tag-tec]soccer skill[/tag-tec] for every player to have.  The ability to run with the ball close to the feet and be able to look up to see what is happening on the field around them is crucial.  The more skilled the player becomes, the more advanced they will become in dribbling techniques, thinking of new ways to get around their opposition.

Before we look at some of the different [tag-tec]soccer drills[/tag-tec] used to practice dribbling techniques, I want to cover some important and essential rules that soccer coaches when [tag-tec]coaching a youth soccer[/tag-tec] team, should be looking out for:

  1. Ensure the player is keeping their head up, at least every couple of steps.  This gives the player the peripheral vision they require to not only see the opposition but their team mates as well.
  2. Encourage the use of both feet when dribbling. This enables the player to turn and beat a player off either foot with confidence.
  3. Change of pace and direction.  This is used to deceive an opponent.  Start off at jogging to three quarter pace movement.
  4. Ensure the player is keeping the ball close to their feet
  5. Use all parts of the foot.  When dribbling a player can use the inside, outside of the instep and the full instep.
  6. Ensure the player protects the ball if they are placed under pressure.  They need to put their body between their opponent and the ball and control the ball with their furthest foot.

A simple but very effective [tag-tec]soccer drill[/tag-tec] to practice basic dribbling techniques is to mark out a 10m grid and give every player a ball.  Players are to move continuously within the grid with the ball trying to avoid making contact with each other while keeping the ball close to their feet and keeping their head up.  This is also a great warm up exercise.

The video below demonstrates the basic dribbling soccer skills along with some of the other techniques you can use to ‘beat’ a player.

I have listed below some different [tag-tec]soccer skills[/tag-tec] that use good dribbling technique as the basis. These techniques can be practiced as part of a normal soccer training session, however the players should be encouraged to practice their dribbling at every opportunity. 

  • The stop and go involves change of pace which I spoke about earlier.  If you are jogging slowly with the ball and the defender is next to you, you can stop for a second and then burst past.  Put the sole of the foot on top of the ball for the second that you pause.  Then simply push it forward when you go again.  The pause may confuse the other player long enough for you to shoot ahead.
  •  The cut back involves using the inside of the foot to send the ball back behind your body.  This is often effective if you tie it in with a fake shot.  You fake a pass, cut the ball back, and start going in a different direction to fake the defender out.
  •  A fake shot is just what it sounds like – you bring your leg back like you are going to shoot a pass or take a shot at the goal.  Instead, move the ball to the left or right with your foot to get ready for your next play.  With any luck, the defender is preparing to follow your shot and not watching the change.
  •  The inside outside is another form of a fake shot.  You fake like you are going to go inside by carrying the ball to the inside for a few steps.  When the defender is not ready, push the ball to the outside with the outside of your foot, and use the extra space to cross the all, pass, or make a shot.  Alternatively, do the opposite and outside and inside and fake going out and then run in.

These are just some of the soccer skills that can be practiced and players will probably come up with their own variations.

An example of someone that has a lot of soccer skill and has developed their own dribbling technique called the ‘seal dribble’ is Kerlon Moura Souza, who is also known as Kerlon. He is currently playing for Cruzeiro in the Brazilian Football League and has represented Brazil at youth team level and some say me be the next superstar.

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  1. 1 Comment(s)

  2. By football coaching drills on Nov 16, 2010 | Reply

    I totally agree that dribbling is very important, keeping hold of the ball while moving forward is key when trying to break through any team lines

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