How to Dribble a Soccer Ball

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Dribbling a soccer ball is one of the most crucial skills for any player, and mastering it can take years. For those looking to improve their dribbling skills, this article provides an overview of how to dribble a soccer ball. 

How to Dribble a Soccer Ball

Start by locking your ankle as you point your toe downwards with your dribbling foot. Next, you want to push the ball forward with your laces instead of kicking it. Do not forget to keep the dribbling foot ahead of the non-dribbling foot. 

Kids playing a soccer game

There are several techniques and drills that you can follow to level up your dribbling ability. Here are the procedures you should follow:

Maintain Ball Contact

Every time your foot makes contact with the ball, it is called a ‘touch.’ It is essential to make frequent small touches. This contact gives you better ball control and stability. 

With the ball consistently in contact with your foot, it is now easier to change the ball’s direction or protect the ball when a defender tries reaching in. Frequent contact also makes you unpredictable, which will be a massive advantage to you as a player

Practice this in an open field with a ball. Make light touches and try moving up and down the field. Mastering this skill may be hard at first, though you will get faster and better at it with enough practice.

Keep the Ball Close to Your Feet

Assume a comfortable stance and your knees are slightly bent with the ball on your stronger foot. The ball should be closer to you than to the defender. Keeping the ball close to your feet allows you time to react faster to any move made by the defender. 

When you are sure you have enough space and time to get back to the ball, you can slowly touch the ball to move. Practice this using cones. Set them up and try dribbling between them without touching the cones with the ball.

Use the Edge of Your Foot to Dribble

When ready to dribble, dash with the same foot forward every time you move. It will ensure the ball is always close to you, and as discussed, we know this will help in ball control. Remember to make regular touches. 

To practice this, with your strong foot in front, slowly make regular touches with the same foot upfield then back downfield. Repeat the drill with the other foot when done.

Players trying to steal a soccer ball from each other

Keep Your Head Up

It is a rookie mistake to want to glare at the ball every time you want to dribble, as it limits your field of vision. Instead, it would help if you kept your head up to be more aware of what is happening around you.

It is possible to spot teammates making runs or defenders closing in on you with your head up. You can practice this by slowly dribbling the ball around the field without looking at it, then gradually increase your speed.

Speed Control

Learning to quickly and efficiently change your speed will make you unpredictable. The sudden slow or acceleration catches a defender off guard, giving you a chance to create space and dribble past them. 

To practice this, run along the length of the field. Sprinting for five seconds, then slowing down for three seconds. Repeat this drill with and without a ball.

Ball Protection

Sometimes defense is the best offense. Learning how to protect the ball while dribbling ensures you do not lose possession of the ball at any given time. You can protect the ball by using your own body.

For this, you have to be between the defender and the ball. Use your shoulders, arms, and legs to keep the defender away from the ball. While doing this, it’s crucial to maintain your balance. To practice this, find a partner. One should attack, and the other should defend.

Maintain Balance

While running with the ball up and down the field, it is crucial to maintain your balance. A mistake here can cause you to fall, and the opponent will get possession of the ball. Defenders are also notorious for muscling up weak attackers to get to the ball.

When a defender approaches, it is essential to tighten your core and ensure your feet are firmly rooted to the ground. You can practice this in pairs trying to get the ball from each other.

Player dribbling the soccer ball towards a new direction

Add in More Advanced Moves

After building confidence with the above drills, it is time to go a notch higher. Some examples of advanced moves include

  • The nutmeg: This move exploits your opponent’s wide stance. You kick the ball between their feet and run around them, kicking the ball forward before they can catch up.
  • The inside touch scissor: To perform this move, you sweep one foot over the ball in a ‘scissor’ motion to fake out your opponent, then use your other foot to tap the ball.
  • The step-over: Similar to the inside touch scissor, a step-over can fake out your opponent, so they don’t know where you’re going.

The three optimal years for developing these skills for the younger players are from ages nine through eleven, when they’re old enough to do almost anything you show them.

Benefits of Learning How to Dribble

Disrupting the Defense

A good dribbler can move the ball quickly and accurately so that it will disrupt their opponent’s ability to set up or establish position, which is so crucial when trying to defend against an attack on goal. 

Protecting the Ball

A good dribbler knows how to protect and shield (a soccer term that is also called “body up”) or hold off opponents using their body when other players come too close for comfort to try and take away possession of the ball.

Avoiding a Tackle

A player dribbling towards the goal is followed by a defender who attempts to steal or take away possession from them. Still, this skilled dribbler knows how to use their quick feet to avoid being tackled while continuing towards the goal.

Conclusion

Soccer is an entertaining sport, and it is always great to try and improve your skills. For young or beginning players, learning to dribble is a crucial skill that they should possess. It is essential to spend time perfecting your dribbling as this will be beneficial in-game situations.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.