Having a high-quality first touch is an important aspect in any soccer player—no matter what level you’re playing at. A good first touch can help you have good control of the ball and make your next move much, much easier and quicker.
Since it’s so crucial in the game of soccer, you’ll want to work on it at every training—or at least as often as possible.
One Touch Soccer Drills
Developing or improving your first touch can be done on your own with a heavy duty soccer rebounder or with a teammate. Here are a few one-touch drills you can work on as a player or with your team if you’re a coach:
The Gate Drill
Create a grid big enough for your entire team to move freely within it. Separate the team into two different teams. Within the grid, create small “gates” of two cones, separated with 2-3 feet between the cones (depending on your team’s skill level).
Your team can only score a point if they do a one-touch give-and-go through the cones.
Have your team separate into groups of three or four players. Two players should be separated by around 20-40 yards between them (depending on the level of your players), we’ll call them A and B. The third player (C) should be in the middle of the two players—closer to player A than player B.
The ball should be played as a long, air ball from player B to player A. Player C will meet the Player A as the ball reaches them. Player A should control the ball and deliver a pass to Player C in the middle with one-touch. Player C will pass the ball back to Player A with also just one touch where then Player A will deliver a long ball to player B at the other end of 20-40 yards. Player A will then replace Player C in the middle and do a double pass with Player B.
You can also do this drill with four players so there is less of a rush in between.
One-Touch Keep Away
Another great drill to train your team’s one-touch skills is a one-touch keep away. Create a grid with two teams in the middle. Have a third team line up around on the edges of the grid.
You can alternate between having the third team restricted with just one-touch or the teams in the middle. You can choose between two-touch and one-touch.
Simple Passing Drill
Create a grid with four cones about 5-10 yards from one another. Your players should be standing about one foot away from the cones (on the outside of the grid). You might have to change up the distance depending on the level of your players.
Have one corner start with the ball and pass it clockwise to the next player. The player who just passed the ball makes a run that follows their pass and stays at that cone. The player receiving the ball should open their body and already prepare them for the next pass to the cone clockwise from them.
The distance should be close enough where the players can deliver a pass with just one-touch. You can also do a different variation as your team gets better at soccer.
When your team is training, make sure to always stay involved (whether you’re playing or watching closely). Depending on the level and age of your team, you might have to stop the play and change up restrictions more often than not.
Whether you are a coach or you’re a player looking to improve your first touch on your own, there are certain things you need to look out for associated with a quality first touch.
As a coach, it’s important that you are also always involved in the practice.
Here are a few coaching points that you as a coach can make while helping your team work on using only one-touch passes or as a player you can look out for in your own technique:
Proper Passing Technique
When coaching first-touch passing, make sure that your players are using the proper technique for passing. Normally, in most situations, they should be using the inside of their foot with their indoor youth soccer shoes for the kids, or some soccer cleats for flat feet for those with overpronation. Support those shoes with some highly recommended socks for soccer and you’ve got a powerful combo for your players, that ensures the strength and accuracy of their pass.
However, they can also use other parts of their feet and body, like their head. When you’re doing a drill, you should also make sure that both feet are being used and encourage working with the weaker foot.
During a drill, you can even restrict your players from using their “stronger foot” (don’t refer to right or left because some players could be left-footed).
Proper Body Positioning
Keep an eye on body positioning of the player before he or she receives the ball. The player should have their body already prepared—and have already looked up before the ball actually gets to their feet—before they make their first touch and move toward their next action.
Proper Foot Movement
Players should always be “on their toes”, ready and prepared to receive the ball at any moment. If a player stands flat-footed it will definitely be much more difficult when receiving the ball to be able to get that first touch where they want it or even pass it off with just one-touch. This also encourages the player’s alertness as well as develop physical abilities such as speed and agility.
Proper Head Movement
Players should also keep their head “on a swivel” and “up”, meaning that they take a look at their surroundings and be aware of them, long before they even receive the ball. This will help them assess their next movement and know if they have direct pressure upon them.
Benefits of One Touch Soccer
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to worry about learning how to play the ball on the first touch. You would have the time and space to effectively trap the ball and settle it in front of you, and then proceed to cross, dribble, pass, or shoot the ball.
However, soccer is a fast moving game, and more often than not you’ll have an opposing player on you in a short period of time. Learning how to play one touch soccer gives you a leg up, as you can perform a variety of soccer skills without needing to take the time or space typically required– a trait that quality soccer players possess.
In today’s high press style of soccer play, being good at playing the ball on the first touch is even more important. Coaches and teams are demanding a fast paced style of play, and one of the ways to execute on this is with a high degree of one touch passes and shots.
Here are some of the benefits of learning how to play the ball on the first touch:
Being able to play one-touch soccer is an incredibly useful asset for any player—especially for an entire team. This fast-paced soccer is much harder to defend and can create a lot of advantages for players. Even though their first touch should always be really well done, being able to take that first touch and transform it into a quality and productive one-touch pass, shot, or cross can help the game improve by leaps and bounds.