If you reckon your wide men’s dribbling skills could do with some polishing up, there are several soccer drills you can use to improve effectiveness.
Time to dribble
Many coaches believe there is a time and a place for dribbling: in the attacking third of the pitch. Lose the ball here and the risk of the opposition creating a goal-scoring opportunity is reduced; dribble successfully (for example, go past the defender) and the chances of being rewarded with a goal increase.
A is for attitude
Your winger must be positive, at each training drill and in matches, and believe he has the ability to beat the full-back. Even with the first controlling touch their body should be side on and they should be looking to commit a defender.
One way they can gain confidence is for you to encourage them and accept it’s likely THEY WILL FAIL MORE THAN OFTEN THAN THEY SUCCEED.
Dribbling is a high risk/high reward skill – risks have to be taken to create goal scoring opportunities, and when you understand that, it will put the unsuccessful attempts in perspective. Remember, criticising your players for being tackled and losing the ball will only make them less likely to try again.
The other way to build confidence is to get your winger to…
Practise, practise, practise
Every winger should have skills he can use to beat a defender. Once techniques such as the step over are acquired, set up 1v1 soccer drills. Remember, observe if your attacker is:
- Comfortable with the ball and able to keep it under close control
- Playing with their head up so they can see their options
- Slowing down as they approach the defender
- Using body feints to unbalance the defender
- Able to change direction once the defender is unbalanced
- Exploding past the defender with their head up
Other ways to beat a player
A winger doesn’t have to dribble past a defender to beat them. A one-two is always effective, or if, for example, your full back has the ball, the winger can drag their marker with them towards the ball, and spin off behind the marker into the space vacated when your full-back plays the ball over the top.
Alternatively, if there’s space to run into and they’re quicker than their opponent, a winger can just knock the ball past and give chase. Finally, sometimes there’s no need even to beat a man – David Beckham, has made a career out of taking one touch to control the ball and with his second touch bending dangerous crosses around the defender marking him.
Positional play soccer drill
One of the key reasons teams employ wingers is to stretch defences width ways, thus creating gaps infield for forwards and attacking midfielders to exploit. The most obvious way to do this is to ask your wingers to stick close to their touchlines when your team has possession.
This way, they can either receive balls to feet, allowing them to run at the defender, or they can run into the space behind when a ball is played inside the defender.
Sticking wide also makes them free for the ball switched diagonally across, say from a central defender. Receiving this type of ball means a winger is more likely to find himself in a favourable 1v1 situation where the defender has no cover.
Once the player has beaten the defender on either the outside or inside, you want an end result. This means can they:
• Cross the ball/pull it back for an attacker
• Play a defence-splitting pass?
If these options aren’t on, they must retain possession – unless, of course, there’s another defender to be beaten!
Click here for a fun soccer drill to get players practising their dribbling skills.