As every football fan knows, ball control is one of the most important skills for players. If you want to be a star on the pitch, you’ve got to be a pro at dribbling, passing, and touching. You’ve got to be one with the ball, and it takes a lot of practice.
The best form of practice is, unsurprisingly, lots of direct contact. Drills and games are ideal, because they keep things fun and upbeat, while also honing speed and precision. They are the training method of choice for pretty much all professional and amateur footballers.
The ‘happy feet’ drill involves using the inside touch to pass a ball between the feet. It’s important to keep the feet moving, but you can start in one spot and progress to slow movements. The better you get, the faster you’ll be able to travel while still switching.
Once you get really good, you won’t even need to look down at the ball. You’ll know, intuitively, where it’s going to travel, so you’ll be able to move across the pitch and stay in total control. It is a great maneuver for evading tackles and setting up shots.
There are lots of times when footballers need to move the ball backward as quickly as possible while maintaining control. This is why toe touches are a helpful drill. They work on your ability to pull and roll.
They’re wonderfully easy to do. Standing in one spot, repeatedly lift the knee and bring your toe down to tap the top of the ball. Alternate between knees. Pick up speed as you get confident, but make sure you’re only touching, not dragging it any direction.
Practice sole rolling to improve the way you use the bottom of your feet. It’s another very simple drill, but it can be surprisingly tricky. Place the ball on the outside of your body, so it’s next to one foot, rather than between your feet.
Take the foot nearest the ball and use the sole only (no sides of the feet) to roll it gently in the direction of the other foot. You can stop it from moving by bringing the side of the first foot down against it. Repeat in the opposite direction until the movement is very fluid and smooth.
Pulling and Cutting
This next move is a bit fancier, and you can use it to spice up your technique. It is a great way to change directions at speed, without losing your grip on the ball. It’s also good for honing those inside and sole touch maneuvers.
First, pull the ball back, but don’t turn your body. Stay facing straight on while you make contact behind your body using an inside touch. You need to do this with the same leg you originally used for the pullback. The entire move involves just one leg. Alternate between them.
Why Drilling and Dribbling Is the Perfect Form of Practice
The more time you spend out on the field, touching and controlling the ball, the faster your skills will improve. Becoming a great footballer is all about patience and perseverance. You’ve got to be willing to practice the same moves over and over again. Eventually, they will become so familiar that you’ll be doing them with your eyes closed.
There are all kinds of soccer drills you can try. Some are lots of fun and involve plenty of movement. Others focus on tight control and precision, so they are a bit more methodical. Both are a necessary part of enhancing your game.