Every soccer player should learn how to shield the ball if they want to be complete players. It is a great skill to have and one that can get you out of some sticky situations.
The main reason for shielding the ball in soccer is to maximize the time your team has possession of the ball. It also allows you to get a few more seconds to find an open teammate if the defense is initially cutting off your passing lanes.
Below you will find the basic steps to shielding the ball.
1. Put Your Body Between the Ball and the Defender
This is the most important part of the shield. Actually, if you aren’t between the defender and the ball, you aren’t actually shielding.
Once you have the ball at your feet and you need to buy a few seconds, turn away from the defender and get your body low. This should be enough to let you control the ball a bit longer and for you to get a better look at what’s going on around the field.
Even though you need to turn away from the defender, that does not mean that you should put yourself in a situation where you can’t see him/her. In fact, ideally you want to line up sideways since that will allow you to hold the ball further away from the defender.
2. Make Yourself as Big as You Can
One thing that you never want to do is keep your arms and legs close together while you’re shielding. That makes it extremely easy for the person defending you to get around you and steal the ball.
“Making yourself big” means putting your arms out and getting your hips wide. This will give you great balance and you will become a much wider wall to get through. It also allows you to conceal the ball better, which can force the defender to make mistakes. Obviously, the more you work on your strength, the better your shield will be.
3. Upper Body Strength is Key
Shielding is one of the most physical parts of the game because you will often have to lean against the defender. The way to do this most effectively is to push back with your upper body to straighten up the defender. You will find that this quick action will buy you those few precious seconds to decide what you are going to do with the ball.
4. Don’t Stop Moving
Whether you are holding off the defender or looking for a pass, you always want to look for a way to move your body and the ball. If you stand still and just hold the ball in front of you, the defender will have a much better chance of stealing it away from you. You also up the chances of making a mistake if you come to a standstill. Develop your soccer vision to get the most out of this skill.
5. Take What the Defender Gives YouYou will often find that the defender will be more focused on getting past your shield rather than keeping you from getting past them. These can be great opportunities for you to spin with the ball and get your team moving further down the field. The easiest way to spin past a defender is to feel for which side he is leaning and quickly turn the opposite direction.
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