7 Ways to Improve Your Dribbling Skills
Whether you are new to soccer or have been playing for years, the seven tips below should be able to help you improve your dribbling skills.
1. Master the Basics
The easiest mistake to make when you want to be a great dribbler is trying to do advanced moves before you have mastered basic dribbling. All of the basic dribbling movements are used in higher-difficulty dribbling moves, so focus on those early on in your development. Dribbling like the masters should be a long-term goal.
The most important parts of your foot for dribbling are the sides and the top of your toes. When running with the ball, be sure to hit the front of your foot to keep the ball going straight in front of you. If you are dribbling side-to-side, then you need to get great touches with the inside of you cleats. You can also roll the ball by putting your foot on top of it and rolling it as you move.
Before moving on to more advanced dribbling moves, you need to be able to have great control of the ball with each touch. No matter what type of dribbling you are doing, make sure that you aren’t kicking the ball too hard or too soft. Once you can make the ball go where you need it to with each basic touch, which takes time, then you are ready to move on to tougher dribbling moves.
2. Long-distance Dribbling Drills
One of the best ways to get really comfortable running with the ball is to do long-distance drills. These are simple drills where all you need to do is go 25-50 yards while keeping control of the ball. The key to this drill is to be under control throughout the run while going both forward and side to side.
Do these drills for about 15 minutes during every practice session and you will soon be able to go long distances in game situations without having to worry about getting the right touch on the ball. Before long, you will notice that you will increase your stamina on top of becoming a better dribbler.
3. Confined Dribbling Drills
Soccer players quickly learn that close dribbling is actually more difficult to pull off than long-distance dribbling. The reason for this is because you have to be more precise with each touch to keep it under control and away from opponents.
You can do confined dribbling drills with or without cones, but it is a good idea to have a partner to work with. In a small 5x5 box, practice moving the ball around while keeping it away from your partner / opponent. Once you have lost the ball, have your partner go through the same drill. Over time, you will learn how to quickly move the ball to each foot to prevent your opponent from getting a steal.
4. Work on Speed Dribbling
One of the very best ways to work on your dribbling technique is to speed up the dribbling process. The best way to work on speed dribbling is to attempt sprinting down the field as straight as you can. The key to this is to consistently make contact with the ball with the top of your middle toe. It will take a while to run in a completely straight line, but that is the type of skill you need to have if you want to be a great dribbler.
5. Work on Shielding
If you don’t have good control of the ball when you are under pressure, then any of the dribbling skills you’ve developed don’t have much value. Shielding is an extremely valuable skill because it allows you to retain possession for your team as you look for a good opportunity to move the ball.
The easiest way to work on shielding is to get a teammate to try to steal the ball from you as you keep your body between them and the ball. Start out by simply rolling the ball as you move, and eventually you can attempt to dribble past them.
6. Cones are Your Best Friends
To get used to doing crossover dribbles, inside-outs, and other advanced moves, you should work with cones on a regular basis. In fact, you can do most of the drills mentioned above by simply setting up cones at different locations. The cones can represent either defenders or different parts of the field. Your goal in most drills is to dribble through or around the cones without knocking any of them over.
Get to Know Other Players’ Defensive Instincts
Unless you are simply sprinting with the ball, the only way you are going to be able to beat someone with your dribbling skills is to out-think them. This means that you need to have a good idea of how they react to your different movements. This is why, from the very start of the game, you need to feel out all of the defenders around you. Once you have a good idea of how they defend, you will find that you will have a much higher chance of beating them with your dribbling skills.
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