Using Smaller Balls to Develop Better Control
It could be said that players shouldn’t move on to other parts of soccer development until they have a good understanding of ball control.
Possession may be the most important aspect of team play, but each individual player must have good ball control to make the possession game possible.
So, how does a soccer player start to develop their ball control skills? Well, one way is to use different sized balls to get your feet comfortable with getting touches. The primary objective in ball control is becoming comfortable, with a soccer ball, so you have a great understanding of what to do with the soccer ball. The soccer ball should become an extension of your body. Whenever the ball comes to you, you should be able to control it and dictate what happens next.
The primary objective of ball control is getting a regulation soccer ball to move from one foot to the other instinctively, and smaller balls can eventually make this process easier. Tennis balls, futsal balls, and smaller soccer balls will get your feet use to kicking the ball with precision, and to stay focus with every touch . The biggest benefit of these drills is a regular soccer ball will seem huge in comparison, making ball control that much easier.
Balls to Use
Imagine being able to fully control a tennis ball without having to look at your feet. Wouldn’t that make controlling a regulation-sized soccer ball much easier? Yes, a tennis ball is much smaller than a soccer ball, but the idea behind these drills is not to learn how to shoot. These tiny balls will get your feet used to staying in tune with each other. Of course, the biggest benefit of these drills is that regular soccer balls will seem huge in comparison, making ball control that much easier.
With tennis balls, it is more important to get used to moving the ball from foot to foot than to develop your dribbling skills. In fact, since tennis balls are too small to get your laces to, it is recommended that you only use these balls for close control.
Smaller Soccer Ball
There are many different soccer ball sizes, so it should be easy to find one to work with. Since you will be able to get your laces to just about every soccer ball on the market, you can practice close control and dribbling drills with these balls.
The most important thing that you want to look for in a smaller soccer ball is that it is made of the same materials found in standard soccer balls. You could use a nerf ball as an alternative ball for practice, but don’t expect to get the same feel on your feet as you would with real soccer balls.
A futsal ball is a great way to work on your touch and control of the ball. A futsal ball is smaller and heavier. Because the ball is smaller and heavier, long passing isn't the priority, dribbling and precise touches are the focus when using this ball.
Now that we have been introduced to what types of balls we can use to enhance our ball control, we need to discuss what drills we can do with a tennis ball, smaller soccer balls, and a futsal ball.
Juggling is the foundation to improving your control of the soccer ball. The more you get touches, the more at ease you will feel with the ball. You must understand that in soccer, every player only touches the ball a hand full of times. Make sure when you do, you take care of the soccer ball by having control and confidence. Juggling will prepare you for any and everywhere the ball might come to you. Play games with yourself to test your ability. Here are some of my favorite juggling games:
Right foot only , right foot only below knee, left foot only, left foot only below knee, left foot right foot alternating, 3 low juggles and 1 high juggle above your head.
If you end up getting pretty good at juggling, then you might be ready to learn how to volley!
Simple Passing Drills
Passing a small ball back and forth with someone will help you get used to stopping the ball, controlling it and making it go where you need it to go. Use both feet when passing and practice both long and short passes.
These drills are obviously for multiple players to use together, but you can also practice alone. All you need is a ball and a wall and you can practice aiming at a specific spot. Again, practice with both feet and from multiple distances. Smaller soccer balls and the futsal ball are the best to use during this drill!
Cone drills are generally used to improve dribbling, but you can also use them to develop better close control. Set up five or so cones a few feet apart and focus on keeping the ball close to you as you move left and right past each one. These drills will teach you to keep the ball as close to you as possible and to move with it in small spaces. Use a smaller soccer ball or a futsal ball when doing this drill.
Weak Foot Drills
One of the most common issues that people have when they start playing soccer is that they just can’t get their weak foot to do what they want them to do. This is made much simpler by practicing with smaller soccer balls since you have to focus harder on making solid contact with your weak foot. Use a smaller soccer ball or futsal ball when doing this drill.
Alternate with Regulation Soccer Balls
Working with a smaller soccer ball or a futsal ball is a great way to develop better close control, but you shouldn’t overdo it. You still want to get most of your practice in with regulation-sized soccer balls, so keep this in mind when you are setting up your training schedule.
Practice, Practice, Practice
As is the case with every other part of soccer development, you simply have to put in a lot of training with smaller balls to be able to get better at ball control. Chances are you will have a tough time controlling the ball at first, but you will see improvement with consistent practice.
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