For central midfielders in soccer, the key is getting lots of touches on the soccer ball to improve on your ball control, turning ability and passing. The main thing to focus on with ball control is the ability to control the ball out of your feet and get your head up – meaning a good first touch on the ball. And in the midfield it’s about shielding the ball away from the opposition and not rushing things.
Central midfielders have to be confident on the ball and get used to receiving the ball under pressure in tight spaces. In fact, central midfielders want pressure and defenders to converge on them so they can slip through those killer passes in behind the defense.
Central midfielders in soccer key skills and strategies to learn:
Find a wall and play the ball against it with the inside of your each foot ten times. Play crisp, sharp passes at pace and control the ball out in front of you a few feet with the same foot you pass with. Stand about ten to fifteen yards away from the soccer ball. Repeat this until you’ve hit enough perfect pass and controlled the ball comfortably.
Play the ball extra hard against the wall and turn with the ball. Do this with both feet. Work on turning with the inside of the foot, controlling it with the outside of the foot, and then the half turn, where you’re checking back to the ball at an angle with your body already turned.
Long Balls Against the Wall
Strike the ball with the outside of the foot, the inside (to bend the ball), and then in the air from a longer distance this time. Do this ten times for each type of kick and then with each foot. Stand about thirty yards away from the wall and try to meet the ball before it bounces or go to the ball and control it with the inside of the foot.
360 Degree Passing
Get five or six of your teammates together for a training session, setup a circle and stand in the middle, all six players on the outside have a ball at their feet and play the ball into you in a rotation. The idea is to play quick one and two touches passes back to the passer and then go and look for the ball from another player.
Take ten shots with each foot where you land on your shooting foot – this is where you’re shooting for power. Try to keep the ball low and keep your knee over the ball. If a central midfielder can develop the ability to shoot from long distance it will make it that much easier to beat players and play the killer ball since defenders will respect the threat of you shooting from long range.
Control & Touch
With a partner or against a wall, knock the ball back with the inside and the instep of the foot from about five yards away. Go through a series of juggle type of passes back to your partner or the wall. For instance, control the ball with the chest and then play it back with the instep. Control the ball with your thigh and then play the ball back with the inside of the foot. Just like when controlling the ball on the ground, you want to control the ball ‘out of feet’, so in a way it’s better to pop the ball up with your chest or thigh and then play the ball back rather then deaden the ball and bring it to the ground as quickly as possible. Of course this depends upon if there’s a defender close by or you’re being challenged from one direction or another.
Coerver Ball Work
It’s always good to get in some ball work, so some dribbling work, turns, cuts, moves and then some juggling. Spend some time working on your weaker foot as well. There’s nothing better than some Coerver Coaching footwork drills. Central midfielders in soccer should be comfortable on the ball while under pressure from all sides.
Emulate a Great Center Midfielder
What central midfielder do you look up to and admire? Whose style of play would you like to emulate? Spend time watching this player, it’s easy to punch their name in and see highlight clips of their play on YouTube. Central midfielders: Iniesta and Xavi of Barcelona; Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri of Arsenal; Steven Gerrard of Liverpool; Frank Lampard of Chelsea
Extra: For all players, develop a few favored moves, shots, passes, crosses, and skills. Perfect those two or three skills. Make them yours. This could be a step over, bending the ball, a powerful shot, develop some skills that set you apart from other players, no matter what position you play.
Check out these soccer training sessions for other positions: