If a player is standing (planted) on the left foot, the player swings the right foot as if preparing to strike the ball. Instead of kicking the ball, the player moves the right foot past the outside of the ball and turns it so the inside of the right foot is now in front of the ball. This is an awkward pose because one foot is planted facing forward and the other foot is sideways, with the toe pointing toward the plant foot side. The player uses the inside of the right foot to push the ball back under the body and just in front of the plant foot. The player continues the motion to the left (counterclockwise), pivoting 180 degrees, regaining control of the ball, and moving into space while keeping the ball under control and within reach.
When there is space in front of the player with the ball, it is not as important that he keep the ball within immediate reach. In fact, he will likely run much faster without the ball at his feet. Keep in mind that the ball is probably an obstacle for most of your players. They will often look like a cross between a penguin and a baby giraffe while dribbling the ball with the inside of their feet. So, if a player is attacking open space, encourage him to push the ball slightly ahead and then follow. Pushing the ball forward with the tops of the feet will help players maintain the most natural running form. This does not mean they should kick and run. A player dribbling the ball must still keep it close enough that opponents can’t get it, and he should be able to reasonably stop or change directions while still maintaining possession.
The really fun part (or the completely scary part) of dribbling is taking on an opponent one versus one. Obviously, the objective is for the player with the ball to get past the player without the ball. The keys to success here are deception, ball control, and quickness. Deception is convincing the opponent that one thing is about to happen when, in fact, something else is going to happen. Most young players have no problem with deception because they, themselves, rarely know what they are going to do. An effective fake doesn’t have to be complicated. Any movement that gets the opponent to lean in the wrong direction or hesitate to make a play is all that is needed.
Ball control is an often neglected aspect of one-versus-one attacking. Unfortunately, a phenomenal move or explosive speed is typically wasted if the player can’t control the ball. When approaching the opponent, the attacking player should keep the ball close to her feet, and the attacker should try to make sure the ball remains in motion (it is harder for the opponent to hit a moving target). As the attacking player completes a hesitation, a move, or just a turning of the shoulders and hips, she should push the ball past the opponent, but not so far that possession is in jeopardy.
Quickness doesn’t have to mean speed. A player who is slow can still use a change of pace to get by the defender. The attacker may slow a little when approaching the opponent. Then, just as the defender is getting ready to challenge, the offensive player should change direction and quickly move past the opponent.
Dribbling against an opponent in the open field can be one of the most fun and exciting parts of the game, but becoming comfortable in a one-versus-one situation takes a lot of time and practice. Introduce these moves individually during the first few practices. Some kids are intimidated by the idea that everyone is watching them, and they may think they will let their teammates down if they lose the ball. Help them become more comfortable with the ball at their feet by allowing them to practice without pressure, or in other words without an opponent. They can dribble in space or attack a cone or a parent helper. Encourage players to take chances in practice, and remind them that it’s okay to fall down while trying a new skill.
The following moves can be used when a player with the ball is attacking an opposing player. The goal is to use the move to get the opponent to commit to one side or hesitate while the attacking player pushes the ball by and continues down the field. Encourage your players to practice these moves at home.
Matthews To complete the Matthews (see figure 3.9), named for English star Stanley Matthews, players dribbling the ball fake in one direction and then quickly move in the other direction. The move, completed with just one foot, is a slight push across the body with the inside of the foot, followed by a push into space with the outside of that same foot. The player can make a slight shoulder fake with the first push to help sell the move. For example, a player dribbling toward an opponent could take a quick touch with the inside of the left foot and nudge the ball across the body to the right. The player should lean the left shoulder in the same direction. The player should then quickly move the ball back to the left with the outside of the left foot. (The left foot will not touch the ground during the actual move.) The player then quickly follows the ball into the open space.