Ball skills win games

The international break is coming up and all the national team managers are out and about. Whenever I see the Wales manager Ryan Giggs I always think of that magnificent dribble in the FA Cup to beat Arsenal. He was an outstanding dribbler.

It’s a thrill that gets the better the more you see it. As a Leeds United fan I am spoiled by the number of dribblers in the team – Jack Harrison, Helder Costa, Pablo Hernandez… the list is endless.

I love to see a player go at another player not just trying to make space for a cross or shot but to get beyond that defender and then see what the next option is from a better, more advanced position with one defender less to conquer. It is a mix of balance, agility, quick feet in tight spaces and acceleration. Pure speed can help but without ball control it won’t be very reliable.

There are great dribblers in my Under 10s team – I encourage them to run with the ball and to turn a deaf ear to the cries of “GET RID OF IT!” The more they do it the better they get and standing on the touchline leaves me feeling very proud to watch them.

You can turn your players into great dribblers using the sessions below:

To start with you need to focus on your players’ technique to get them comfortable with dribbling the ball. Try Dribble and shoot, which is a simple but excellent session that gives players an end product for their dribbling – a shot at goal. You can move the session on by playing Three ways to win – a fun game that has dribbling and shooting as its main themes.

Once players have got an idea of what dribbling is all about try the Dribbling game. Dribbling into the penalty area is a great way to open up a team and challenge the defenders to stop you getting past them.

There are dribbling skills activities and games at every youth age group in my Skills Curriculum. Check out the Dribbling activity for Under 7s and see if your young players can attempt the skills involved.Then play the Dribbling game for Under 7s to cement the technique in young brains.

Finally use the game Passion fruit for a competitive session that puts dribbling at the heart of winning the game – a great way to end any training night and one that gives the coach the chance to see if all the skills work.

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