Soccer is a great game for boys and girls of all ages, physical ability and fitness level to get involved in. Learning the basic skills of the game is quite easy and within a few short training sessions your child can start to really improve and become a valuable team member.
Also, it’s now the most popular sport for children in Australia, with local clubs and school teams in every suburb, so your child will have lots of friends to play with once they learn the basic skills.
So, what are these basic skills?
In this article, I will teach you some of the basics, along with some simple tips and drills you can practice at home, or in the park, to help with your child’s development.
Dribbling is the most important skill in soccer. In essence dribbling is the ability to control and manipulate the ball with your feet as you move up and down the field, and is a crucial part of the game that every player needs to master. The better your dribbling skills the better you will be able to…
- Set up for accurate passes and shots in goal
- Get around opposition players
- Maintain possession when an opponent attempts to tackle you
- Move the ball quickly from defence to an attacking position
There are many different techniques and tricks when it comes to dribbling but to start we will focus on the fundamentals.
6 Tips for Effective Dribbling
- Aim to make lots of small, gentle touches with the ball, avoid heavy touches.
- Keep the ball close to your feet to maintain control and protect it from defenders.
- When moving the ball quickly up the field use the leading edge of same foot to touch the ball gently and keep it close as you get into a gallop, avoid alternating feet when galloping.
- Watch the ball using your lower peripheral vision so you can keep awareness of what is happening in front of you or further up the field.
- Alternate your dribbling speed as you move up the field to keep defenders off balance.
- Use your body to defend the ball by keeping it between the ball and the defender. Using your arms, legs and shoulders as a sort of shield will stop the defender from touching the ball.
It’s important to build up coordination in both feet so you are confident no matter which direction a defender might attack from or which direction you want to move the ball.
Dribbling in and out through cones using alternative feet is great for building soft touch on both feet.
Step 1 – Setup 6 cones in a straight line.
Step 2 – Start at one end of the cones and pass the ball forward between the cones with one foot, then pass it back with the other foot so you are weaving in and out of the cones.
Step 3 – Start slow and then gradually build up speed, making lots of small touches and keeping the ball close to your feet
Step 4 – Once you feel confident and have control of the ball try to keep your vision ahead with the ball in your lower peripheral vision.
Step 5 – You can also try this drill using only one foot then alternating after a few runs weaving in and out of all 6 cones.
The ability to pass quickly and accurately to a teammate will make you a highly valuable player in any team and the key to good passing is good technique.
There are many ways to pass the ball but the easiest, most accurate and best pass for beginners to learn is the side-foot pass.
Tips for proper side-foot pass technique
- Use the inside of the kicking foot, which is the part of the boot that goes from the base of the big toe to the central area of the heel.
- When making contact, ensure the kicking foot is at right angles to the ball.
- Your shoulders face squarely towards where you want the ball to go
- Knee and ankle joints should be sturdy and strong
- Keep your body weight over the ball
- Ensure your head is steady and your eyes stay fixed on the ball
- Extend the arms to maintain balance during the pass
- Aim for the middle of the ball
- Follow through with the kicking leg in the direction you want the ball to go
This one is great as it can be done with one person or two. I will explain for one person; if you have two people simply put the cone in between the two players.
Step 1 – Place a ball on top of a cone that is one metre from a concrete wall (this is so you don’t have to chase the ball. If you have two players replace the wall with a person and put the cone in the middle, with each player starting 5 metres from the ball.)
Step 2 – Starting 5 metres from the cone pass the ball aiming to knock the other ball off the cone. If you knock the ball off the cone that’s 2 points, if you hit the ball but it doesn’t fall off the cone, that’s 1 point.
Step 3 – When you have 5 points move back another 5 metres and start again. You can repeat this until you are too far away to regularly hit the ball.
Knowing how to receive the ball with all the various parts of your body is crucial because passes can come at different heights, directions and speed so you need to be able to control the ball using your feet, knees and chest.
You want to gain control of the ball with the first touch. So, here’s some tips for executing the easiest receiving technique, ‘The Inside of The Foot Receive’.
- Face the player passing the ball and get balanced on the non-receiving foot.
- Lift the receiving leg slightly and turn at the hip so the inside of the foot is at a 90- degree angle to the ball.
- Ensure the receiving foot is relaxed so it absorbs the pace of the ball when it arrives.
- As the ball hits the foot aim the inside of the foot in the direction you want the ball to go.
- Aim to keep the ball as close as possible to your feet after this first touch
For home practice, a multi rebound net is great because you can pass the ball into the net and it will rebound it various directions. This will simulate a game situation much better as the ball will return at different speeds and angles.
To practice this drill simply setup your multi rebound net and pass the ball into the centre of the net, as it rounds apply the tips above to trap the ball and gain control before passing again.
You can make it more fun by trying to get the maximum number of traps and passes in a minute. Also, alternate the distances from the net to make it more difficult.
If you child practices these 3 fundamental skills (dribbling, passing and receiving) consistently they will quickly improve and be ready to join in with any club, school or neighbourhood soccer game.
If you would like to accelerate your child skill development and understanding of the game, Australian Sports Camps offer great 3-day coaching programs covering all aspects of soccer in a fun, supportive and safe environment. Join our soccer camps today and get started.