Soccer coaching tips for perfect ball control

Good soccer players can bring the ball under their control in an instant – no matter how it arrives to them. Here's how you coach ball control skills.
A good first touch

… gives a player TIME and SPACE to assess what to do next – for instance, pass, dribble or shoot

… ensures a time-wasting second touch isn’t required to get the ball out of the feet

… enables players to operate comfortably under pressure and in tight situations

Whereas a poor first touch…

… can take the momentum out of attacking play

… might result in LOST POSSESSION

The two types of control

1. Cushion control – taking the ‘sting’ out of the ball by pulling back the controlling surface on impact. This has the effect of ‘cushioning’ or absorbing the pace of the ball so that it drops at the feet.

2. Wedge control – by making the controlling surface, say the sole or outside of the boot, more rigid, the ball is ‘wedged’ between it and the ground. This is used when a player wants to force the ball downwards or into space so they can move onto it.

Basic soccer skill tips

  • Move into position to intercept the ball early.

  • Select the controlling surface early and place it in the ball’s path.
  • Stay balanced using the arms.
  • Watch the ball carefully to judge its direction and speed.
  • Keep the head steady.
  • Be relaxed.

image shows player trapping the ball with his foot

What can you control it with? Anything!

  • Inside of the foot – Plant the supporting foot 45-90 degrees to the path of the ball. Control the ball with the arch of the free foot.

  • Outside of the foot – Used when the ball is travelling across in front of the player. Just reach forward into the ball’s path.

  • Sole of the foot – Raise the toes slightly above the heel. Used in dribbling for stopping before changing direction.

  • Instep – For when the ball’s falling from a steep angle. Stretch the ankle and cushion with the ‘laces’ by bending the knee and ankle on contact.

  • Thigh – Aim for about halfway up the top of the thigh, although the inside is good for stopping balls flying past.

  • Chest – May involve arching the back slightly, bending the knees and even jumping.

  • Head – Use the forehead, just below the hairline.

Key soccer coaching tip: good service is vital to practising ball control.

Step up the soccer drill

Only when players have confidence in their soccer skills should you move onto increasing the difficulty by having them try practising:

  • Receiving balls from various angles, speeds and heights

  • An immediate pass with the second touch

  • Against defenders

  • Controlling a ball while moving at pace

  • Controlling the ball for a team-mate

Players will now have to think about:

  • The weight of their touch

  • Moving the ball away from opponents by redirecting it into available space

  • Checking passing possibilities while the ball is in flight.

Click here for another ball control soccer drill.