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What you will find below is a menu of various skills and moves which you can use to create a footskills practice for your player or team. The skills are divided into three categories: (1) foundation (basic techniques to control the ball); (2) change of direction (turns); and (3) 1 v 1 moves (designed to get past and behind a defender). To create a drill, simply choose a few skills from each category. You can either have the players perform each skill for a specific number of repetitions, a set amount of time, or a combination of the two.
Depending on how many skills/moves you choose and how many repetitions or how long you have the players perform each one, you can call this anything from the “7 Minute Drill”, 5 or 10 Minute Drill, or even longer. As a coach, you can use this as part of your footskills training during practice, and/or you can also assign it as “homework” for your players on days they do not have team practice. I have included some sample “10 minute drills” at the end to give you some ideas.
What’s in a name?
Nothing. I frequently hear people get caught up in semantics, arguing over what is the “correct” name for a move. That’s just plain silly. It really doesn’t matter what you call them, just as long as your players know what you mean. The same goes for the “correct” way to do a move. The right way is the way that works against good defenders in a game situation. If a move allows a player to consistently wind up on the other side a good defender without losing possession of the ball, it is by definition a good move, even if it wasn’t performed “by the book.” Keep in mind that all of these moves were first invented by players – not taught by coaches. Players should be encouraged to be creative, experiment and try their own variations and combinations.
From practice to games
It will take time before you will start to see any of these skills and moves come out during game situations – 6-18 months usually. Keep in mind that the overall goal is simply to provide the players with a selection of tools to use. Eventually they will choose those that they are more comfortable with, and this will be different for each player depending on their individual personality, skill set, and how they choose to express themselves with the ball.
Here is the progression to use when teaching a player a new move:
1) Perform the move with a stationary ball
2) Perform the move with a moving ball (practice until proficient)
3) Perform the move against a cone or stationary defender (to get the correct timing and spacing)
4) Perform the move with light pressure (defender should jockey but not try and tackle the ball)
5) Try the move against full pressure (1v1 practice situation or in pick-up games)
6) Game situation: coaches must reward the attempt with praise, even if it fails, if they ever want to see it again.
Coaches (and/or parents), will need to be able to show players how to do these moves. Even if you were not a star soccer player, or never played the game at all, they are not all that difficult to learn given a little bit of practice. Keep in mind you do not have to develop the level of speed and proficiency needed for these moves to work in game situations against your peers, you just have to be able to show them to kids. To assist you with some of them I have included some youtube links to professional players performing the moves so you will have an idea what they should look like.
1. Speed Dribble: Dribble the ball with one foot at a time, taking a touch every step, pushing the ball with the outside of the top/front of the foot (the space right behind the last 2-3 little toes). Players should be on their toes the entire time, with the toes of their dribbling foot pointed slightly down and in. Have them dribble a certain distance with one foot, then switch feet and dribble back.
2. Inside – Outside Dribble: Alternate using the inside and outside of the same foot, while both the player and the ball move in a zig-zag pattern.
3. Toe Touches: Hop from one foot to the other, touching the ball with the sole of the foot under the toes each time.
a. Variations: forward and backward, in between cones, in a circle, figure 8
4. “Tic-Tocs” / “In betweens”: tap the ball back and forth between the feet. Use the inside of the front of the foot to control the ball, not the ankle/heel area, otherwise the ball will pop out behind you.
a. Variations: forward and backward, cones, figure 8
5. V pulls.
a. V with inside of the same foot: Pull the ball back with the sole of the foot and then turn in that direction and use the inside of the same foot to push the ball forward. The standing leg must take a small hop to turn.
b. V with outside of the same foot: Same as above but use the outside of the foot to push the ball.
c. V with inside of opposite foot: Pull the ball back with one foot, then push off to the other side using the inside of the other foot to take the ball.
d. V with outside of opposite foot: Same as above with the outside of foot.
6. Beckenbauer / Rivaldo: Use the sole of the right foot to pull the ball back and then push it behind and to the front of the standing leg. For practice, catch the ball with the sole of your opposite foot and repeat.
7. Side rolls: Roll the ball from side to side using the sole of the feet. Do a couple rolls in one direction and then stop the ball with the other foot and do a couple of rolls in the other direction.
Change of Direction / Turns
You can practice these by placing 2 cones 10-20 feet apart or simply by taking 3-4 touches in one direction, executing the turn and taking another 3-4 touches in the opposite direction, and performing the turn again. Since these are all 180 degree changes of direction, the player should be moving back and forth in the same space.
1. Pull back turn. Stop the ball with the sole of the foot and then pull it back behind you, turning with the ball at the same time, and then explode in the opposite direction. Can add a fake kick if you like.
2. Pull behind the leg turn: Stop the ball with the sole of the foot and pull it back behind your standing leg, this time turning in the opposite direction as the ball. Can also be done with a fake kick.
3. Inside of the foot turn: While dribbling in one direction, reach past the ball and cut it sharply with the inside of the foot while exploding away in the opposite direction.
4. Outside of the foot turn: While dribbling in one direction, reach past the ball and cut it sharply with the outside of the foot and then explode away in the opposite direction.
5. Cruyff turn: Start dribbling in one direction, then fake a kick or pass, but instead use the inside/heel area of your foot to cut the ball sharply behind your standing leg and explode away in the other direction. When faking the kick, make sure to place your plant foot slightly in front of where you normally would, to avoid hitting your standing leg when you make the cut. Can also be done without the fake kick. The original.
6. Step over turn: While dribbling the ball, step over it as if you were going to turn the ball with the inside of the foot, then quickly cut the ball in the other direction using the outside of the foot. Make sure to sell the move by turning your head and body as you step over the ball. video
1 v 1 Moves
1. Iniesta Move (La Croqueta): While dribbling at a defender, quickly shift the ball from the inside of one foot to the inside of the other, at the same time exploding past the defender into space. Key points: 1) the initial touch must go sideways or slightly backward, not diagonally forward; 2) take a wide stance to make sure you can move the ball far enough to the side to avoid the defender’s foot; 3) You must be moving forward with the ball while taking the second touch. Do not simply double tap the ball and then chase after it; 4) the move works best when a defender lunges forward for the ball. Attack the lead foot of the defender and wait for him/her to go for the ball, then simply move the ball out of the way and glide past the defender. Like this: video
2. Fake & Take / Lunge: While dribbling the ball, fake like you are going to cut the ball with the outside one foot, but step behind and past the ball instead, then explode off in the other direction using the outside of the other foot. Essential to bend the knee to get a good spring off of the faking foot. video
3. Scissors (Step-overs): Exactly like the fake & take, you are faking an outside cut in one direction and then making an outside cut with other foot instead. The only difference is that instead of passing behind the ball, this time your foot will move in front of and around the ball. Adv: repeat until you get the defender off balance. The master: Ronaldo (the original)
4. Maradonna / 360 / Zidane / Rouletta. While dribbling, hop over the ball and spin 180 degrees (putting your back to the defender), while simultaneously using your foot to stop or slightly pull the ball. Immediately upon landing, continue your spin in the same direction while dragging the ball with your other foot. Easier seen than explained: video (the 1st 30 seconds are annoying, the rest are worth the wait). Robinho.
5. Elastico. Start by moving the ball with the outside of the foot, then quickly flick your foot around the ball, cutting it back with the inside of the same foot, before touching it past the defender with the other foot. Ronaldinho’s signature move: video
6. Mathews. Move the ball in one direction with the inside of the foot, simultaneously taking a small hop in that direction, then push the ball in the opposite direction with the same foot. video
7. Ronaldo chop : Start dribbling towards one side of the defender to get them off balance, then quickly cut the ball behind your leg and go around the other side of them. video
8. Beckenbaur / Rivaldo: Same as described above (pull the ball back and around your standing leg and then push it forward) except this time instead of controlling the ball with the sole of the foot at the end, take the ball with the top/outside of the foot as you explode past the defender. video
9. Fake kick with inside or outside cut. Fake a kick or pass before using the inside or outside of the foot to cut the ball past the defender.
10. Roll-Touch : Dribble towards the defender. Roll the ball sideways starting with the inside of the dribbling foot, and then use the other foot to control the ball past the defender.
11. Neymar move: Start with a sideways roll like above, then step over the ball and reach your other foot around your leg to tap the ball in the opposite direction. video
12. Step-over: Step over the ball with the dribbling foot (as if you were going to roll it) and then quickly cut in the opposite direction taking the ball with the outside of the foot.
13. Messi’s Moves. The best 1v1 player in the world hardly ever uses any of the fancy moves above. Instead, for the most part he relies on two simple moves – one to go to his favored left foot, and the other to go to his right. The reason the 2nd move works so well is because the first is virtually impossible to stop, even though the defenders all know it’s coming.
#1: While dribbling the ball, quickly drop one shoulder to fake as if you are going to move past the defender using the inside of the dribbling foot, but instead hop sideways in the other direction using the outside of the foot to take the ball, and then immediately spring forward with the ball. The entire move is done with the same foot. For Messi (left footed), it is fake right, go left; but for a right-footed player it would be fake left, go right. You will see him do this in virtually every highlight video and every game he plays, but here are some good examples: Video;
#2: Fake move # 1 as if you are going to cut the ball with the outside of your stronger foot, but instead flick your foot behind the ball and shift your weight in that direction before then quickly tapping it around the defender using the inside of that foot, with an Iniesta-type double tap. Video. Example of both moves: video2.
14. Combinations: Encourage players to put 2 or more moves together in combination. I usually end each footskills session with “freestyle combinations”, but you can also have them practice specific combinations of your choosing. Some Examples:
a. Scissors / lunge combinations. Start by faking as if you are going to cut the ball with the outside of the dribbling foot, but instead let that foot pass behind the ball, then perform a scissors with the other foot before taking the ball with the outside of the 1st foot. (Ex.: fake right, scissors left, take right). Alternatively do the scissors first and then the lunge. Key is always to keep your eye on the defender to tell when they are off balance.
b. Scissors / elastico combination (aka “Tucker’s move”). Perform a scissors with one foot, then elastico with the other before going around the defender.
c. Cruyff / Step-over combination (aka “Evan’s move”): perform a cruyff cut in one direction, then quickly step over the ball before cutting it back in the other direction with the outside of the foot.
d. Crazy legs. Roll the ball across your body using the inside-sole of the foot, then step over the ball using the same foot before cutting it back in the other direction with the outside of the foot.
e. Scissors / Cruyff combination: Perform a scissors, taking the ball to the side with the outside of the foot to get the defender moving in that direction, and then with the next touch immediately cut the ball back behind your standing leg to explode in the other direction.
10 Minute Drill – Sample #1
1) Toe touches forward and backward (10 feet) – 3x
2) Tic tocs forward and backward (10 ft) – 3x
3) 10 beckenbauers
4) 10 “V”s (pick 1 variation)
5) Inside-outside dribble – 30 seconds each foot
Turns (2 cones or lines, 15 ft apart) – 3 w/ each foot
1) Outside of foot turn
2) Pull back turns
3) Cruyff turns
5 Minutes of moves (practice each move for 1 minute)
5) Freestyle combinations (suggest lunge-scissors combinations)
10 Minute Drill – Sample #2
1) Speed dribble (touch every step, outside/top of foot) – 20-40 yds back and forth, switching feet on the turn. 2 repetitions
2) Figure 8s (two cones about 8-10 feet apart)
a. Toe touches (2 figure 8s)
b. Tick tocks (2 figure 8s)
c. Dribble (figure 8 using only 1 foot at a time, 2 times through w/ each foot)
Turns: 4 repetitions each foot
1) Inside of foot
2) Outside of foot
3) Pull back
Moves: with a cone or stationary defender; 5 repetitions each foot
1) Messi move #1
2) Lunge (fake & take)
4) Double Scissors
5) Scissors / lunge combinations
10 Minute Drill – Sample #3
Cone Drills: 5 cones placed in a line 2 feet apart (NOTE: for team practices, players can take turns on these, but make sure the “line” isn’t longer than 2. Ex: for team of 10 you’ll need 5 sets of 5 cones)
1) Toe touches through the cones and back
2) Tic-tocs through the cones and back
Repeat 2 times each
3) Dribble through the cones and back, using only 1 foot the whole time. 4 repetitions each foot.
Change of Direction
1) “Pull hop” (‚”turn”)
2) Beckenbauer turn
3) Outside foot turn
4) Pull back turn
5 Minutes of Moves
2) Emerson / Cruyff Cut / Beckenbauer – i.e. – anything that involves cutting the ball behind the leg to get past the defender
3) Lunge/ Scissors combinations
5) Freestyle Combinations