|I think Gareth Bale is very good at this – dribbling at speed into open space. Often you can surprise defenders just be dribbling at speed down the line or into the open space. You’re not even trying to beat a defender in a sense but more trying to gain territory. Sprinting with the ball is a soccer skill that isn’t taught enough.
Field size: 20 yards by 20 yards
Number of players: full team
Age range: 8-10
Description: Players dribbling in a small square and the coach calls out sprint. The players then dribble the soccer ball out of the square as fast as they can. The coach then says sprint again and the players dribble back in the square.
Players should work on finding the open space and not running into their teammates or hitting another players ball. Have players focus on keep their eyes on the ball but also knowing where other players are around them.
This is a good soccer drill for players to work on their change of pace, going slow on the dribble and then fast. Players jog and walk with the ball in the square and then burst out of the square on the dribble.
Next, have players dribble with their weaker foot. Players should always keep the ball close to them – touching the ball with every step of the ball, even when they are sprinting with the ball.
Sure, there are times when you want to push the ball ahead four or five yards, but you want players to be as fast with the ball as without, so it’s better to touch the ball with every step when dribbling at speed. Yes, if there is open space to attack then the player will kick the ball to the space, but usually you want to keep the ball close even when sprinting with the ball. Watch how Messi dribbles with speed with the ball at his foot for example.
Equipment needed: Cones and practice vests.