Improve Your Moves – Soccer Skills & Drills

If you’ve learned anything on this soccer training website, it’s that your success as a soccer player depends on much more than on just how well you can kick the soccer ball. The fate of the game rests on strategy, teamwork, and decision-making.

That being said, there are several soccer skills and techniques that you’ll want to perfect, so you can tap into them when you need to. These are useful soccer skills that you can use when you’re trying to get out of a tight spot on the soccer field or need to beat a defender. After all, while the game of soccer is much more than just your soccer skills on the ball, those skills are the foundation of your game. You’ll want to master the ability to controlshieldjuggle, and dribble the ball with both feet.

Over 2 minutes with the ball, 48 passes, and every player involved. Barcelona’s goal against Manchester United was classic possession football. As a player and a team this what you want to aspire to. The patience. The skill. It’s just wonderful to watch.

Below are a few quick soccer skills and moves by some of soccer’s greatest players. If you’re looking for soccer practice drills, don’t forget to visit our soccer drills directory. And, also check out our daily footwork drills and Coerver drills sections. These are some of the best soccer skills you’ll need to master to become an elite level soccer player and enable you to play at the highest level:

Here are some classic soccer moves and fundamentals of the game that all soccer players can adopt and use in a number of situations. Again, the game of soccer is all about mastering the soccer ball – being able to control it and dribble the ball in a variety of ways so you can keep possession and create goal scoring chances. If you’re skill on the ball isn’t perfect, then you can’t control the ball to make those killer passes or beat the last defender in a one on one situation.

Shielding the Soccer Ball

Shielding the soccer ball is an art. Shielding the soccer ball doesn’t get as much attention or credit, as it should. If there’s one thing a young player should learn early on it’s how to shield the ball from a defender. Use your body to protect the ball from players trying to take it from you. Don’t let them take. Protect the ball like your life depends upon it. Bend your knees, get your body between the defender and the ball, and force the defender to foul you, but don’t let them take it. Carry the ball with the inside of your foot away from the defender, while you use your body to shield the ball.

Shielding the soccer ball doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Just ask Roy Keane, a player who earned a fair amount of respect when he played for Manchester United. In a small square, see if a defender can take the ball from you. Make it like a battle royal, where the defender does all they can to try to win the ball and you fight to keep it. Can you keep the ball from a defender for one minute?

Learn Shoulder & Body Feints

Often you can trick a defender and throw them off balance enough to beat them with a shoulder or body feint. Dip the shoulder to one side and go in the opposite direction. Step into the direction you are faking with your shoulder and take off with the ball in the other direction, almost with a spinning motion. It’s a shoulder fake to the right, then you dribble off or turn with the ball to the left . Do the reverse to go the other way: Fake to the left (lean) and dribble off by turning to the right.

If you’re back is to the defender, you can also fake with your shoulder. Before turning, when you have a defender on your back, throw in a feint as if you are going to go in one direction, when you really intend to go the other way. Feint to the side by dipping your shoulder.

As a midfielder, however, you might want to have your body half turned already, and open to the field. This turn coupled with the fake with your shoulder is useful if you are marked tightly and coming back to the ball with a defender right on top of you and need to spin away. Perhaps better for a forward or winger coming back to the ball. There’s someone who’s a master at body feints. He plays for Barcelona, you might have heard of him, Lionel Messi.

5 body feints you need to learn – in today’s video we will teach you how to do 5 essential body feints that you can use on the football pitch to go past your opponent. The body feint is one of the oldest football skills in the game, and today JayMike will teach you five of them as he shows you how to make 5 cool body feints and use them to go past your opponent. The body feint is a very easy and useful move and a brilliant football skill if you want trick the defender into thinking you are going the other way, and if you find yourself in a sticky situation on the football pitch, it’s good to have a few body feints up your sleeve to waltz away. Through time, some of the best soccer players in the world have used the body feints – Pele, Ronaldo R9, Lionel Messi – and now, you. In today’s video, we will teach you how to learn body feints as we show you 5 cool body feints that you can confuse the defenders with on the football pitch.

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First Touch in Soccer

When you receive the ball, use the inside or outside of the foot to steer the ball away from the pressure and give yourself space to make the next pass or take that next dribble with your next touch. Don’t kill the ball right in front of you when you control the ball.

Instead, touch the ball to the side with the inside or outside of the foot a few feet away from your body so you can make the next pass or dribble the ball in the next movement. This will enable you to play the ball quicker and not get the ball caught under your feet.

It’s hard to say what the most important skill there is to have as a soccer player, but it could very well be a good first touch.

Without a good first touch there is no way to play at a high level. Why? Well, a good first touch allows you to play the ball quickly, hold the ball, beat players on the dribble, and score goals. If you’re constantly controlling the ball too close to you, and you’re on top of the ball, then you’re bound to lose the ball and not get the pass, shot or cross off in time.

Again, a good first touch is controlling the ball out in front of you, and not right under your feet so you have to take another touch before you make the pass. Also, this first touch should be away from the defender and into the space as you use your body and arms to protect the ball.

For example, if a defender is rushing towards, you can push the ball to the right or left and into the space, rather than trying to control the ball first and giving the defender a chance to win the ball. Think about separating yourself from the defense with your first touch, cutting them out of the play.

If you watch players in the English Premier League, Serie A, or La Liga, for example, they control the ball out into the open space, whether that’s to the right, left or right in front of them, so they can get their head up (take a peek just with their eyes is enough) and make the next pass or take the next touch. Learn how to improve your first touch.

Spinning with the Inside of the Foot

Use the inside of your foot to spin around with the ball. Use the inside of your foot for control and pull the ball around to open up into the new direction you want to go in. That way, you are immediately open to the entire field and can make a pass with the inside of your foot on your next step. Watch soccer players like Xavi or Iniesta at Barcelona, both are experts at this inside of the foot turn. They check back to the ball but take a look behind their shoulder to see if they’re under pressure. If no defenders are close by they’ll use this spin turn to open up to the whole field.

If the defender is too close though, you can flick the ball around the defender and get the ball back again, as Xavi does here.

Inside of the Foot Layoff

This is another turn and layoff where you chop the ball behind your standing foot to go in the other direction or avoid pressure. As the soccer ball comes to lay the ball off with the inside of your foot. It’s much like the Cruyff turn except this is done when a pass is played into you and not while you are dribbling, but the concept of the move is similar.

You’ll see top soccer players do this move as a pass. They’ll let the soccer ball come into them and then lay the ball off with the inside of their foot and spin in the other direction. It’s much like a flick turn in a way. And it throws off the defense since they think you’re going the other way. It also gives you ahead start in turning away from them as soon as the ball hits your foot. See Clint Dempsey do this layoff move at about the 13 second mark below. It leads to a lovely goal for the Seattle Sounders.

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Checking Back to Receive the Ball

There’s an art to checking back to receive the soccer ball. It’s subtle but it’s an art. The best soccer players make it look like nothing, but the truth is it is something they have perfected after years of playing. Part of checking back to the ball is finding and creating space. Top players create their own space but dragging the defender who’s marking them away from the space they want to check into.

It could just be a little five-yard jog away from where they want the ball. And then darting back to receive the ball. Or it keep be walking away from the crowd to find space and then darting behind the defensive line to receive a through ball. It’s about timing your run and also having a good understanding with your teammates. Often a forward will check back to the ball and lay it off with the inside of their foot and then spin away to receive another pass. Or it can be a back door like run, which you check back to the ball and then run into space. If the defender is too tight then the forward can break into the space to receive a through ball. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is very good as hitting these long balls right to the feet of players who are then one on one with the goalkeeper.

80% of the time soccer players will receive the ball with back to pressure. If a player can work to master this moment, they will have a huge advantage over other soccer players.

Players should look to:
Post up against a defender to check back
Play on a defender’s blind side
Check/Double check
Check back at an angle on the half turn with arm out to feel for pressure/protect the ball if it comes
Peek over their shoulders on the way back to the ball ideally 3 times. As they leave the space, half way and just before they receive so they know the picture behind them and their own intentions before their first touch

Three ways to receive:
1. Lax defender: open up body and take first touch on back foot
2. Over-committed defender: roll them with first touch or dummy
3. Good defender: receive on half turn with front foot to protect the ball. Wait for defender to overcommit and roll/produce skill to turn and penetrate or play back in plane of vision

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The Dummy Turn

If the ball is played at the right pace and you think the defender is too close to you, you can let the ball run through your legs and turn and beat your opponent to the ball. Also, if you know your teammate is behind you and open, you can let the ball run through your legs and go through to your teammate, and they then can play the ball to back to you – much like a give and go.

This is very effective for forwards to learn. The ball can be played to the forward who’s checking back, who lets it run through his or her legs or just lets the ball go by them and quickly turns to get the ball back from the deeper forward who is posting up.

When the two forwards are lined up, one should always be closer to the midfield. The forwards should try to work in tandem and stay ten or fifteen yards from one another, one stretching the defense the other closer to the midfield. The forwards can rotate and switch these positions through the course of the game, but often the taller forward posts up high to win head balls, while the other forward tries to win the knock downs or anticipate a flick (off of a goal kick or punt, for instance).

Forwards can also clip the ball into the other forward’s path and work a give and go. Instead of a dummy and letting the ball go past them completely, they can get a touch on the ball or flick the ball on to the forward, using the pace of the ball to spin the ball into the other forward, perhaps around a defender.  Watch how this is done by Juventus and Trezeguet, he does the dummy run and then turns to receive the ball back perfectly.

In the video below, check out Fabian Espindola’s goal from a dummy run. Set plays don’t only happen from dead balls in soccer, but Real Salt Lake proved that training ground exercises can pay off in big games.

The Blind Pass or Switch

This pass is not exactly blind of course, just deceptive. This is the pass you make in the opposite direction in which you’re facing or dribbling. To pull it off you dribble or even just face one direction and then play the soccer ball back in the other direction.

For instance, you could be dribbling from the center of the field to the right side and play a diagonal ball to the left sided midfielder. As everyone moves towards the right you try to surprise them by playing this blind pass. The key is that you’ve taken a picture of the field already. You know your teammate is there and waiting for the pass.

Xabi Alonso likes to do this. He doesn’t necessarily whip the ball completely to the other side of the field but he’ll move in one direction and then play these long through balls the other way. Guti too, his former teammate at Real Madrid, likes to do this. Ryan Giggs from time to time will play a ball like this. Again, sometimes all it takes is a little shift of the body or the way you’re facing, like you’re going to play the soccer ball one way and then clip the ball in the other direction. It’s a great way to catch the other team off guard.

I’m surprised it’s not used more when building out of the back, once the ball is switched to the other side of the field there’s the chance to whip the ball right back to the other side of the field just as the defense is shifting over. It’s the right to to pull this off because the defensive team is so used to the ball being shifting from one side of the field to the other by the fullbacks and central defenders that there’s the chance to act like you’re going to switch the ball once more time by then slip that diagonal ball to the opposite side of the field.

Communication in Soccer

Listen to your teammates, especially if they say turn or time or man on – take their advice. They can make things a lot easier for you. It’s really important to communicate on the soccer field and let your teammates know when they have time or when there is pressure coming. It’s a good habit to get into. If you play the ball pass along a message. Give your teammate some direction, as in – man on, you’ve got time, go at them, get stuck in, push up, and so forth.

And ask for the ball. This might seem like a simple common sense thing, but many soccer players don’t call for or ask for the ball, so they don’t get as much. If you ask for the ball and show you want to play, you’re more apt to get the ball and be able to make things happen. So, seek the ball out and call for it. Try to get into the game and don’t end up on the edges of the game, not touching the ball for long stretches. In fact, the best soccer players in the world demand the soccer ball. If Barcelona or Real Madrid are losing, Messi or Ronaldo are going to demand the ball. They want to win and will do whatever it takes to make that happen. But first they need to have the ball at their feet.

Learn more at StrategyPatternsCrossingTricks and Juggling

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