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Effective dribbling essential for success on the soccer field

By Michael J. Matkovich with Jason Davis

Without question, dribbling is a key skill if a player is to succeed at the very highest level of the game of soccer. Though considered a basic skill, dribbling is the most dynamic and exciting component in the game.

Many think of dribbling as simply running with the ball. However, at the highest level of the game, dribbling is more than that; it is the ability to manipulate, control, and move the ball to gain or maintain an advantage. The best players in the world tend to use dribbling for three basic purposes: to beat or eliminate defenders by running past them with the ball, to create new passing lanes and angles, and to maintain possession and control of the ball. Players who use dribbling to good advantage to accomplish one or more of these purposes are often referred to as "having good feet."

Dribbling to beat players and create passing angles requires players to actually move the ball in and out of pressure in order to maintain possession for their teams. By dribbling the ball sideways or backward, players can create time and space while reducing the amount of pressure placed on them by the opposing team.

All players, no matter their defensive or offensive positions, can use the skill of dribbling to work their way out of pressurized situations. For example, target forwards use dribbling under pressure to hold the ball in order to create time for their teammates to join the attack.

Although players use most, or almost all, of their body parts when dribbling, the feet are obviously the part most used. Many coaches in soccer today work on the principle that six surfaces of the foot are used when training to improve dribbling:

  1. Top of the foot
  2. Sole of the foot
  3. Toe
  4. Inside of the foot
  5. Outside of the foot
  6. Heel

Although that view is not wrong, it is far too simplistic and compartmentalized. When training players at or near the highest levels of the game, coaches should adopt the mind-set that effective dribbling requires the use of the whole foot and that every part of the dribbling foot can be used to the player’s advantage.

The activities in this chapter isolate or combine the following dribbling objectives:

  • Beat or eliminate defenders by running at and past them with the ball.
  • Create new passing lanes and angles.
  • Maintain possession and control of the ball.

This is an excerpt from Elite Soccer Drills.


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Elite Soccer Drills

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