Shielding the ball to buy time before passing

Coach your players using soccer drills to advance their skills in maintaining control and shielding the ball from an opponent.

Holding on to the ball is a skill that players can use when they are alone in defense or attack and they are waiting for support. Good players can buy time for themselves to look up and play the killer pass that could lead to a goal or when they find themselves alone in defence and they cannot see who to pass to, they can hold onto the ball until team mates arrive.

Here are two techniques your players can use as they prepare themselves to be challenged:

1. Stepping over the ball

The player puts one leg between the ball and an incoming opponent, so they step across the ball in the direction of the opponent to give them a ‘bump’, before resting the other foot on the ball.

2. Pulling the ball back

This soccer tactic is useful when an opponent is approaching too quickly for the above technique. The ball is ‘snatched’ back to one side using the sole of the foot before the player braces himself for a physical challenge…

footwork positioning and techniques to shield the ball from an opponent

The shield

Shielding the ball is simply a case of positioning the body and legs between the ball and the opponent, and then, using the foot farthest away, keeping the ball as far from the opponent as possible, while keeping it under close control at all times.

Shielding tips

  • Get side on – ideally, have one shoulder pointed at the opponent to see what they are doing.
  • Crouched posture – knees bent, bottom lowered, feet shoulder-width apart to provide a stable base and balance.
  • Arms out – to help balance and to keep the opponent away.
  • Be aggressive – a good soccer coaching tip is to use arms, shoulders, body and legs to keep an opponent at bay, and body weight to push them away.
  • Head up – to see what options are open.

While shielding the ball, encourage players to play the ball with the inside and outside of the foot, and to try using the sole of the foot to roll the ball from side to side. It’s also important they constantly readjust their body position to counter pressure from the opponent, and that they practise using both feet.

Click here for games that will put your players' ball shielding skills to the test.