To improve in soccer means to practice. However, to practice doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do so only when you have team sessions. As a matter of fact, that’s what most everyone else settles for: only practicing at organized team functions.
There are so many different soccer techniques you can work with on your own. If you are a coach, you can even incorporate these into your trainings.
With effort, commitment, and focus, you’ll notice a definite improvement in your technique and overall soccer abilities.
Soccer Drills to Do By Yourself
To practice doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do so only when you have team sessions. As a matter of fact, that’s what most everyone else settles for: only practicing at organized team functions.
If you want to get ahead of the competition, you need to be prepared for the games by yourself. And the best way to do this is by focusing on these soccer drills.
Easily enough, all you need for this drill is a wall—preferably not one that leads to a high-tempered neighbor—and a ball. You can easily do this drill on your own or with a partner, if you wish.
This drill works on your first-touch. You can vary the skills you are training. You can do one-touch or two-touch passes. You can use various parts of your feet. You can even play the ball in the air and work on your first touch in the air.
To perform this drill:
- Stand facing the wall with your ball at your feet. You can vary up your distances depending on the skill you’re working on.
- For one-touch passes, you should only be about 5 feet away or closer.
- For practice with longer passes, you can extend that distance to 10-15 feet
- Pass the ball to the wall, and practice kicking the ball back and forth up against the wall on your first touch
While doing this drill, make sure to keep your body relaxed. Use and train both sides of your body and both feet. Use all parts of your feet (inside, out, top, even the occasional toe poke)
All you need for this drill is yourself and a ball. This is a great drill to train with if you’re a beginner. However, even the most veteran players can benefit from it.
There are so many different variations, styles, and skills you can work on while performing this drill. Even though from the outside it may look simple, it requires a lot of coordination and even better footwork.
For the most basic of toe-touches, just follow these directions:
- Place the ball directly in front of your feet
- Start with your dominant foot on the ball (toes and upper part of foot)
- Next, take your dominant foot off the ball and place other foot on it. Do so repeatedly and gain a rhythm. The ball should not be moving in between touches.
For other variations as you progress, you can add in various different types of toe-touch exercises to extend the complication of it.
You might be questioning the value of this type of drill, as the soccer ball isn’t even moving. However, the reason for this drill is to develop control of your body as it relates to the ball.
Another footwork drill you can train on your own are inside touches. By doing this drill, you are not only improving your footwork skills but also increasing your stamina and raising your endurance.
It also works on your speed since you are constantly engaging your calf muscles.
The inside touch is the most common (and preferred) method of kicking or passing the soccer ball. You use this method for both dribbling and the majority of your passes. As such, the more drills you do that involve improving your inside foot touch, the better your entire game will be.
To perform this exercise, all you need is a good soccer ball. There are also various other variations you can add in as you improve. However, the most basic drill goes like this:
- Place the ball between your feet.
- Use the inside part of one foot (let’s say the right one) to tap it slightly to the left foot.
- The ball should stay on the same lateral plane.
- From the left foot, play the ball back to the right foot.
- Get a rhythm and try and keep your legs hip-width apart.
- Once you improve, try keeping your head up and doing the drill without looking at the ball.
This drill can seem almost impossible when you first start, and it isn’t uncommon to only complete one or two kicks back and forth before the ball goes skirting away.
Don’t get down on yourself, and keep practicing. This is a drill that you can see marked and dramatic improvement on quickly if you stick with it.
That improvement can be a fantastic motivation to continue working by yourself on various drills to improve your soccer game.
Juggling is one of the top exercises that everyone can work on—beginner or “expert”. You’ve most likely seen video clips of professional footballers juggling the ball on and on, so you are probably familiar with this drill.
You could be first starting out at soccer and need to let the ball bounce. Or, you might be an expert and want to work on using various parts of your body. There is always a new juggling challenge to tackle.
Juggling helps target and improve your basic soccer skills: ball skills, and first touch. You can use various parts of your body when practicing. You can focus on only using your head, your thighs, your feet, etc.
It’s important, when first starting out, to be patient and adjust the exercise according to your skill level. Perhaps you need to let the ball bounce in between touches or only use your dominant foot. Either way, keep working at it!
To juggle, you can either start by flicking the ball up with your feet, with various ways seen here or use your hands. Once you get the ball up in the air, try to follow these tips while juggling:
- Always keep the ball spinning back towards you. This will keep the ball in the same area as your body.
- When first beginning, let the ball bounce on the ground in between touches.
- Use various parts of your body, various parts of your feet, and both feet.
- Plus keep track of your record—the number of juggles you can get before it hits the ground.
Beating your record will always keep things interesting.
Keep in mind that you won’t be “juggling” in a real soccer game. This drill, like so many others, is a great one to do by yourself because it mimics skills you’ll need in a live game.
Ball control is needed no matter what position you play, and juggling helps to develop this technique.
Cone Dribbling Work
Dribbling is an often overlooked area of soccer practices, mainly because it isn’t necessarily conducive for group exercises. It’s a lot easier to work on passing and shooting in a large group setting.
However, good dribbling skills are vital to being successful on the soccer pitch, and you can really stand out if you are a good dribbler.
For this drill, you’ll just need cones—or whatever you have on-hand (shoes, barbie dolls, cups, etc.) and a ball.
Setting your “cones” on the ground, set them with enough width apart in between them so that you can fit a ball through. Depending on your skill level, the distance might vary.
You can set the cones in a line or in various formations. Dribble the ball through the cones, winding your way in and out of them. While dribbling around the cones, use different parts of your feet and different feet.
As you improve, increase speed and decrease time. Move the cones closer together, or adjust the angles of them. There are a variety of ways to adjust this as you get better.
Trapping the Ball
All you need for this drill is a ball and some space. Throwing the ball up in the air, work on bringing it down to the ground.
When first starting out, let the ball bounce first and then try and control it. Use various parts of your feet and both feet. You can also use this drill to practice trapping the ball with other body parts.
Your goal is to “stop” the ball, or trap it, as close to your feet and body as you can. You’ll notice that professional soccer players are able to bring any ball down and get it under control immediately. This comes from good trapping skills.
You can also combine this drill with the first one we mentioned: Wall Kicks. Rather than continuously kicking the ball back against the wall, which works on your one-touch skills, trap the ball. If you have a good soccer ball rebounder, it would work for this drill too.
With this variation, kick the ball at various heights and speeds to work on trapping balls of all different kinds.
Whether you’re practicing passing or shooting, you can easily set up target practice and work on your accuracy. Whether you draw with chalk on the wall or hang up a t-shirt on a fence, you can always work on your accuracy on your own.
This will come in handy for both shooting and passing, as we mentioned. It works on your precision, which will always serve you well. Here are a few variations to add when you’re ready:
- Use both feet rather than just your dominant foot
- Kick the ball on the run, rather than from a standing point.
- Start by facing the opposite direction of the target, and one-touch the ball as your first touch. Follow that up by kicking to your target.
Drills vs Game Time
Soccer drills are great to work on your individual skill sets as a soccer player. Each soccer team is a collection of individual talents coming together to play in harmony.
As such, make sure you keep this in mind as you work on your drills. The drills you are doing by yourself are intended to make you a strong soccer player for your team, not the other way around.
No one likes a ball hog, or a selfish individual, and the team doesn’t benefit from that. Here are a few things to pay attention to as you work on your soccer skills individually:
- Becoming a good dribbler is great for escaping pressure and moving the ball up the field, but it is not permission to hold on to the ball too long. Passing is the quickest and most effective way to move the ball up field – keep this in mind as you become a better dribbler.
- Accurate shooting is an incredible asset for your team, especially if you’re playing as the team’s forward. However, too many haphazard shots from distance only turn the ball over and hurt your team. When you have a good chance, take it and use your shooting practice to create goals for your team. But, don’t take too many low percentage chances that only end up hurting your team’s possession.
- Fancy juggling skills are very rarely needed in the game. While these drills work on ball control and possession, they don’t directly translate to the game. Don’t be a showboat and start juggling the ball during a game situation.
On Your Own
Performing these drills shouldn’t feel like a chore—they should be fun and give you alone time with the ball. These drills not only work on your footwork, they also work on your stamina and help build your soccer playing foundation.