How to Play Like Megan Rapinoe

Let’s see if we can learn how to play soccer like Megan Rapinoe. Yes, this will take a lot of practice and hard work, but there’s no better women’s soccer player to model your game after. Rapinoe, the Ballon d’Or winner for 2019, an award for the best women’s soccer player in the world, is an artist on the soccer field.

The four qualities and skills that standout in the U.S. Women’s national team player are her ability to take players on, how she shields the ball and holds players off, and her crossing and shooting skills.Yes, those are four important and very useful qualities to possess as a soccer player and what makes Rapinoe a very unique and special player.

But there’s something else about Rapinoe that separates her from everyone else: she’s got that knack to try new things and do the unexpected and she plays at a slower pace in a way than everyone else until she doesn’t. Meaning she knows to go slow and then fast. Change of pace. She’s got that ability to hypnotize opponents. Make them think she’s going one way when she’s really going the other. Lull them to sleep or sucker them into diving in when the soccer balls at her feet.

New: Watch this free kick by Rapinoe. She’s become an expert.

Rapinoe started out playing for the University of Portland before moving on to the professional soccer ranks and to eventually staring for the women’s national team and the Seattle Reign FC. It’s no wonder though she a soccer star, as Rapinoe is a player who performs her best in the biggest games and doesn’t shy away from a challenge. If you want to learn how to play like her, this is what you need to do:

Take Players On
Rapinoe loves to try to beat players on the dribble as an outside midfielder near the touchline. But what’s smart about Rapinoe is she doesn’t do it unless she’s in the attacking half of the field or one versus one with a defender. In other words, she takes players on at the right time and in the right parts of the field. Sure, she’ll feint and escape pressure in all parts of the field, but she knows when to take risks and when just to keep the ball.

Shields the Soccer Ball
Next up is her ability to shield the ball. The best players in the world aren’t afraid to hold on to the ball under pressure, and that’s just what Rapinoe does. She can keep the ball despite being closed down or physically pushed and pulled. She’s strong on the ball and doesn’t lose it. If you watched her play against Canada in the Olympic semi-final, you notice how even though she sometimes being kicked or pushed from behind, she held the ball and laid it off to a teammate in a better position.

Whips Those Crosses In
Perhaps Rapinoe’s most famous skill though is her ability to cross the ball. This was most evident during the 2011 World Cup versus Brazil. When it was her cross from just past half field that found the head of teammate Abby Wambach. She can bend the ball into the box at pace, which makes it easier for her teammates to latch on to the ball and score – all they have to do is redirect the ball and don’t have to wait for it.

Plays One Touch Soccer
While Rapinoe loves to dribble and beat players, she also knows how to and when to just play one and two touch soccer. She also does that thing that Barcelona players do, which is play one or two touches, the simple passes and get the ball back right away. She knows how to use her teammates as outlets so she can get in a better position and get the ball back right away.

She’s Always Wants the Ball
I get the idea that Rapinoe is alway asking for the ball. And rightly so. She should demand it. Her teammates should always give it to her if she’s open. She’s the team’s catalyst. She’s the playmaker. All of the best soccer players in the world always want the ball.

Free Kick Specialist
Just like her ability to hit perfect whipped in crosses, Rapinoe can bend balls in from free kicks.

Rapinoe’s Cross to Wambach Versus Brazil

Get Your Head Up & Take Shots
Finally, Rapinoe isn’t afraid to strike the ball from distance or at a bad angle – again this was evident in the game versus Canada, when she scored a rocket of a goal at a tough angle. She’s good at finding a bit of space and firing the ball on goal. This ability and desire to score goals make it easier to then beat players on the dribble or cross the ball. Defenders don’t want her to shoot or score, so they close her down or ending up diving in, which enables her to slip past her defender and get a cross in or pass the ball to a teammate making a run.

Rapinoe’s Goal Versus Canada

And here Rapinoe enjoys heading the ball like a seal. Don’t laugh, the seal dribbling skill is a real thing. Check it out. Yeah, I doubt this will come in handy during an actual soccer game but you never know.

Lastly, what’s unique about Rapinoe is her touch on the ball. And really, it seems that she has perfect touch and control with the ball no matter what foot she uses, right or left. And that’s quite rare actually in men’s and women’s soccer. Often top players favor one foot. Yes, they are good with both but would rather use one foot. I think Rapinoe is equally good with both.

Something that’s rare in both the men’s and women’s game, really. Plenty of pro soccer players are skillful on the ball with one foot, but usually not both. Their touch might be good with either foot, but not perfect. They tend to favor one foot over the other. For Rapinoe though, it’s seems like she has great touch with either foot. Check out her first touch on this goal versus Brazil.

In the end, if you want to play like Rapinoe, like all great players in world football, you’ll need to learn how to wait for your opponent to make a mistake and then act on that.

Rapinoe doesn’t go too fast. She will wait for you to make a mistake and then take advantage of it. It’s like Cristiano Ronaldo when he played early on for Manchester United, he almost played too fast, did too many moves and step overs. He learned to vary his pace and moves. Rapinoe has that skill, the patience to pick her spots and she knows when to take players on or when to just lay the ball off and move into a more dangerous position on the soccer field.